Primary Wikipedia

Hilo, Hawaii – Kilauea Avenue

Main Streets 2017 – Hawaii

Primary Wikipedia
Farmers Market Frank Hamm
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Primary Wikipedia Farmers Market Frank Hamm 5249969992 dcdd123271 b

On May 23, 1960, a tsunami swept over the picturesque beach on Hilo Bay and surged through this city, causing 61 deaths and destroying some 530 buildings. Residents responded by converting devastated waterfront areas into parks and memorials, and Hilo began expanding inland instead. With Kilauea Avenue as its main thoroughfare, “the downtown found a new role in the 1980s as the city’s cultural center, with several galleries and museums being opened,” notes Hilo’s active Downtown Improvement Association.

Vivid reminders of the disaster’s past are preserved in the bayside Pacific Tsunami Museum, where visitors can find out what’s been learned to reduce the danger from future events. Leaving the museum, you can see the active volcano Mauna Loa and the dormant Mauna Kea looming in the distance, both often shrouded in rain clouds.

The largest city on the 50th state’s “big island,” Hilo celebrates Hawaiian tradition, which stretches back almost a thousand years. Tahitian dancing is featured downtown on Aloha First Friday, when families enjoy live music, bounce houses for the kids, and food trucks with Hilo’s mélange of ethnic cuisines. It’s perfectly acceptable to order a big plate of luau-style roast pork, Korean kimchi, sushi and macaroni salad. Kilauea Avenue restaurants and nearby art galleries are open late.

Kilauea Avenue also figures prominently in the big parade of April’s Merrie Monarch Festival. The celebration’s highlight is a hula and chanting competition featuring hundreds of performers in a local sports stadium. You’ll see a lot of kids taking part in activities that include performing the art of the hula, which tells stories through hand and other body movements.

Hilo gets more than 100 inches of rain each year — and to enjoy fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers from the verdant local hills, townspeople head a few blocks from Kilauea Avenue to the Hilo Farmer’s Market, which has grown from a handful of farmers selling from pickup trucks to more than 200 vendors today. This has to be one of the very few farmers markets that publishes the cruise ship schedule on its website, reminding farmers and artisans to bring extra inventory for when the ships disgorge their passengers.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Hilo with a few hours to spare, try the city’s Walking Tour, whose 21 stops on and around Kilauea Avenue give windows into the city’s history since 1870. If you find yourself dreaming of moving here to live — well, you sure won’t be the first. Or the last.

Primary photo taken by Hermann Luyken
Farmer’s Market photos taken by Frank Hamm
Hilo, HI is home to a 2016-17 LifeChanger, Dane Inouye.

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Kailua, Hawaii – Kailua Road

Main Streets 2016: Hawaii

On the island of O’ahu, Kailua Road is the main road in the town center of Kailua, a community of 38,000 that’s located 12 miles northeast of Honolulu. And if you follow it to the end, Kailua Road will take you right onto one of the best beaches in America.

Kailua Beach is a spectacular three miles of soft white sand, making it great for long walks along the crescent-shaped bay with its clear turquoise waters. The bay is also a destination for water sport enthusiasts, and its 35-acre park is a popular family and community gathering spot. The steady onshore trade winds make Kailua Beach one of the world’s preeminent windsurfing destinations. Looking to the north from the beach, you can see the Mokapu Peninsula, which houses the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. To the south are the world famous Mokulua Islands, and less than half a mile away is Flat Island, a bird sanctuary and destination for swimmers and kayakers.

Away from the beach, Kailua Road runs through the town’s compact, easy-to-shop business district, surrounded by mostly residential neighborhoods. From the visitor’s center, you can go in any direction to find unique local shops, boutiques, restaurants, recreation, entertainment and kamaaina (resident) hangouts.

Kailua is a self-sufficient town that’s culturally and economically diverse town and has a strong sense of community. Holiday and Fourth of July parades are held here every year as well as block parties, canoe-paddling events, and Thursday evening Farmers’ Markets. Each year around the last week of April, the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle sponsors an “I Love Kailua Town Party,” where small businesses come together to showcase their signature dishes and products.

One of Kailuans’ favorite spots is the view from atop Ka Iwi Ridge. The short, steep hike offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and Koolua Mountains. The “pillboxes” on top were observation posts between the two world wars. Also in the Kailua area are many ancient temple ruins, such as those at Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site.

Once known as a sleepy beach town, Kailua is becoming increasingly popular with tourists who are attracted to its slower island pace and the small-town vibe on and around Kailua Road. Annual visits by President Obama and his family have only heightened interest and tourism in recent years. That has caused some concern among some local residents, who don’t want the community to lose its unique, authentic Hawaiian character.

So far, you’ll find, that’s still here.

I Love Kailua Town Party photos courtesy of Leon Mosher –

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