On the windward side of the island, is the Big Island's only real city and its administrative center, Hilo. This city, famous for its rain, curls around Hilo Bay. Hilo's weather makes it a natural greenhouse. For those golf enthusiasts, right across the street from the town's hotels is the Hilo Country Club golf course, a par 71 course.
The city sits in the middle of a lush green landscape typical of the Puna Coast. Mauna Kea, the dormant Volcano west of town, rises to an incredible 13,796 feet (4,205 meters). It's slopes are thickly covered with tropical forests, and it's summit is sometimes capped with snow.
Located beside Hilo Bay is Liloukalani Gardens. It is an elaborate 30 acre park that sits on the edge of the bay and is designed and maintained in an authentic Japanese style. It is the largest Japanese garden located outside of Japan.
Hilo is the eastern hub of the island. Choose a direction and an hour's drive puts you in a valley deep in Paniolo country, on the blackness of a recent lava flow, or at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Locally, don't miss Lyman House, Island Heritage Gallery, Earth Heritage Gallery, Liloukalani Gardens and Banyan Drive.
Above Hilo is the Wailuku River State Park with its dramatic view of Rainbow Falls spilling into a crystal pond below. It is a spectacular yet easily visited natural wonder. Also nearby is the infamous Akaka Falls.
At 8am every week day, Hilo fishers pull in with their catch. It is custom to put these colorful fish on the auction block at the Suisan fish market. Another tradition, every Wednesday and Saturday morning on Front Street, is when the farmers market is the main attraction. Local farmers and craftsmen from all over the east end of the island display and sell a variety of the islands products and produce.