Wailoa River State Park is a public park located on the banks of the Wailoa River, between downtown Hilo, Hawaii and Hilo Bay. The river's name was derived from the Hawaiian wai loa which literally means "long water."
The 131.9-acre (53 ha) park, managed by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, encircles Waiakea Pond, a spring-fed estuary with many saltwater species to observe. The lush green lawn is best for leisurely strolls, quiet relaxation, outdoor events and picnicking. The arched footbridge is a great way to explore and observe the Waiakea Pond. A boat ramp is available for boating and fishing. There is also a visitor center known for its changing cultural displays. The Wailoa Arts & Cultural Center, founded in 1967, has free admission, but limited hours (Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and Wed. noon-4:30 p.m.). Other amenities include restrooms, picnic tables and drinking fountains.
One of the attractions in the park is an ornate 14-feet high statue of King Kamehameha I, founder of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The statue was originally commissioned by the Princeville resort on the island of Kauai but was not put into display after locals pointed out that Kauai was the one major island never conquered by Kamehameha in war. An alumni group from Kamehameha Schools raised funds to transport the statue and be put on display in the Wailoa River State Park in 1997. In 2004, it was restored with gold leaf.
The park's shore front used to be a residential community that was devastated by the tsunami caused by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake. The state condemned the land and took possession in 1969. A memorial was erected to honor the tsunami victims. Another memorial honoring Vietnam war veterans is also located in the park.
To reach the Wailoa River State Park, turn mauka onto Pauahi Street from Kamehameha Ave.
Wailoa River State Park in Hilo, Hawaii Photos