Exploring the Big Island: Discover the Cities of Hawaii

Hawaii is known for its gorgeous coastlines and impressive volcanoes. While it is a wonderful place for nature lovers, it also is home to beautiful urban spaces. The island cities have much to offer curious tourists. The most significant cities in Hawaii include Lahaina, Hilo, Wailuku, and the state’s capital, Honolulu.

Exploring Lahaina


Lahaina is located just 45 minutes from Kahului Airport. It’s a historic whaling village and a popular spot on Maui. It was once called Lele, or “relentless sun.” Today, visitors can discover a wealth of culture through the city’s art galleries, shops, and culinary opportunities.

History buffs should include Lahaina on their itineraries. This location is found on the National Register of Historic Places because it was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. See charming Front Street, the Pioneer Inn, U.S. Seamen’s Hospital, and the oldest living banyan tree on Maui.

Exploring Hilo

Hilo from above

Hilo can be found along the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii. It is surrounded by natural beauty, including dramatic waterfalls and gardens.

The city itself presents a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can learn more about history at the Lyman Museum, which shares information and artifacts from the tsunamis that nearly destroyed Hilo. Visitors can also explore the Astronomy Center with its three titanium cones that represent the three tallest mountains on the island.

Hungry visitors should visit the Hilo Farmers Market in downtown. Shop local vendors offering a unique collection of crafts and produce. Other notable attractions in Hilo, Hawaii include The Liliuokalani Gardens with its Japanese-style fishponds and Panaewa Rainforest Zoo.

Exploring Wailuku

a Wailuku restaurant

Wailuku is the county seat of Maui, found just 10 minutes from Kahului Airport. This commercial hub is where Maui’s government buildings are located.

Visitors can tour Market Street and local family-operated businesses, many of which have been in operation for generations. There are coffee shops, cafes, and boutiques.

If you are staying at the right time, you can also experience Wailuku’s First Friday. This event happens every month and celebrates culture and local arts. Musicians, artists, vendors, and more come together for a street party from 6 pm to 9 pm.

The Wailuku Main Street Association created a walking tour that covers 23 of the city’s most interesting cultural and historic attractions.

Exploring Honolulu

Honolulu from the air

Honolulu is easily the most well-known of Hawaii’s cities. It is the capital city as well as a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore its cosmopolitan charm and historic landmarks. See Pearl Harbor or take a moderately difficult hike to Makapuu Point Lighthouse.

The Bishop Museum is the largest history museum in the state. Visitors can also tour the Honolulu Museum of Art or see Iolani Place, which is the only official residence of royalty in the United States.

Honolulu is also known for its fine dining. Foodies will appreciate the offerings found here. Try barefoot fish tacos at Duke’s Beach House or explore the area’s trendy Chinatown. Visitors can sample fare from local institutions like Roy’s Waikiki, Chef Mavro, and Alan Wong’s Restaurant.

Hawaii’s urban spaces are just as appealing and exciting as its many natural splendors.