Slightly against my expectations, I really liked Honolulu and Waikiki. Tourist honey-pot without a doubt; but it does it so well and in such a laid-back way that I just relaxed into it.
Hilo, the Big Island’s capital is the anti-Honolulu: low rise, slow-paced, a bit alternative, and with an air of genteel and contented dilapidation. Almost Key West-y in feel.
As the guide book points out, though, there’s a good reason for this: just about any tsunami that happens in the Pacific will hit Hilo. Everything seaward of Kamehameha Avenue (above) got swept away in the last big ones (1046 and 1960); so they’ve given up and left it as a park. The Pacific Tsunami Museum has an engrossing little film showing footage of all the people hurrying down to the shore so that they could enjoy seeing the big ‘tidal wave’ approaching, ignorant of the calamity that was about to hit them.