On leaving the island of Hawai‘i, here’s a shout-out to Hilo, my hometown. For a beautiful coastal town, Hilo is remarkably untouristy, thanks to its average annual rainfall of 130 inches (which doesn’t preclude lots of hot, sunny days, believe me).
Among my favorite spots is Lili‘uokalani Park, a sprawling Japanese-style garden overlooking Hilo Bay. People come here to picnic, play with kids, pole fish, and walk/jog the perimeter for exercise. One day, I couldn’t resist strolling around and taking pictures–okay, like a tourist. (Click pics to view larger.)
I thought to myself, “If I were living in Hilo, I’m come here every day” (the way tourists think on vacation). The park is comfortingly familiar and epitomizes Hilo: Gigantic, old trees. Lava rock ledges amid grassy lawns. Japanese/Hawaiian landscaping. Lacy clouds floating in blue skies. Local folks, of all stripes, doing their own thing. Not showy, not a scene.
The one problem with Hilo, however, is its auto dependence. The town is spread out, a ramification of the catastrophic 1946 and 1960 tsunamis that made residents move to higher ground, a few miles from downtown. Life here would be limiting without a car. So, visiting Lili‘uokalani Park daily would mean driving daily.
Well, strolling around, I suddenly noticed a group doing, yes, outdoor yoga. I also saw a pair doing tai chi in the stone garden.
Below is a shot from a decade ago. The park looks more or less the same, which epitomizes the gradual rate of change in Hilo. While major developments (from astronomical observatories to big-box stores) have proliferated, I can always count on Hilo being Hilo.