From the devastation of the 1960 tsunami in Hilo arose a green oasis — the Wailoa River State Recreation Area.
Set around the Wailoa River (wai loa means “long water”), this 132-acre landscaped park is a popular site for strolling, picnicking and fishing.
Its centerpiece is the 2-story, 12-sided Wailoa Center, which opened in 1967 as a venue for cultural events and exhibits of photography, paintings, quilts, fine art, contemporary crafts and more by local artists.
Annual events in the 3,500-square-foot Main Gallery on the second floor include the Big Island Woodturners exhibit of more than 125 bowls, sculptures and other objects (March); MAMo (Maoli Arts Month) Exhibit, featuring multimedia works by Native Hawaiian artists (April); Big Island Ukulele Guild Exhibit of handcrafted ukuleles and guitars (October); and Hawaii Nei, a juried six-week show featuring pieces that fuse art with a message of conservation of native species (November and December).
With the exception of the latter, exhibits run for a month. Visits to Wailoa Center are self-guided; artists are sometimes on hand to discuss their work.