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Head to Hilo   by Caitlin Moore

Hawaii's Big Island has been attracting explorers for hundreds of years with its active volcanoes, lush forests, and culturally unique atmosphere. Everything about this destination makes it a haven for travelers looking to forget their cares and remember what it's like to be calm, cool, and collected. If you've yet to experience this phenomenon for yourself, set your sights on one of the island's hottest spots for modern day discoverers; Hilo.

Hilo is located on the Eastern side of the isle at the bottom of Mauna Kea Mountain. Historically provocative as well as naturally stunning, this welcoming town will sweep you off your feet with its bubbling river, rich treasure trove of facts and finds, and array of activities that will give you a true taste of Hawaii.

Start by taking a tour of downtown Hilo, preferably by foot. As you wander the streets noting the influences of the Polynesians, the Missionaries, the sugar industry, and unfortunately, the two ravaging tsunamis that challenged the city in 1946 and 1960, you'll appreciate all the components that have made this such an interesting place. There is a definite spirit of perseverance and hard work in the air, and as you let your eyes wander the ocean landscape and mountainous backdrop, you'll understand why generations of people have put forth so much effort to maintain Hilo's magic.

To further appreciate Hilo's wonders, you'll surely want to spend some time on the beach. If white sand is what you seek, start with Onekahakaha Park, one of the few in the area that boast the pristine stuff. A large shallow pool protected by breakwater as well as many picnic areas and public facilities make this a vacationer-friendly place to be. For the best snorkeling in Hilo, save time for a trip to Richardson's Ocean Park, where the fish are fun, frisky, and fascinating. Any of the beaches in this region would be great for simple swimming and sunbathing, so grab your towel, kick off your shoes, and make your way to the coastline.

If you want a little brain food to balance out your time spent thinking of absolutely nothing, several museums should tempt you indoors for at least a little while. The Lyman Museum is the place to see many facets of Hawaii, from shell art to a missionary home and a rotating selection of special exhibits. The Pacific Tsunami Museum serves as an educator on the topic of these fearsome storms as well as a memorial for those who have lost their lives because of them. Realize the scope and strength of Mother Nature as you tour this informative museum.

To sample the wares of the local artisans and shopkeepers, and to pick up a few souvenirs, of course, don't miss the downtown shopping district. Art, clothing, specialty items and lots of food can be found here, so immerse yourself in the culture while satisfying your appetite for dining and shopping as well.

Beyond the city limits, Volcanoes National Park, golf courses, hiking and horseback riding trails, and many more "typical" Hawaiian diversions can be partaken of. What are standard ways to spend an afternoon here on the island are anomalies on the mainland, so take advantage of every opportunity you have to get lost amongst the banyan trees or pause for a minute alone at the base of a waterfall. A few days down the line, once you're back to your normal routine, you'll be grateful to have these moments tucked away into your memory bank.

Hilo is privileged in that it offers many vacation rentals for your lodging pleasure. Just beyond the typical hotel choices are a few properties that are a bit more creative than what you're used to, so consider booking yourself a beauty for this holiday. From modern to plantation style, sprawling to diminutive, the rentals available are different from one another and likely to defy your expectations in a good way.

Follow the lead of so many others and make Hilo the focus of an extended journey. You'll feel connected to past explorers and understanding of the wanderlust that has brought people of all kinds to this magnetic place, so find yourself a fabulous property from among all the enticing Hilo vacation rentals and make yourself a guest of honor.

About the Author

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