What do you do when it rains in paradise? That was the predicament I found myself in this past weekend when all it did was rain. All of the best activities are outdoors – hiking, snorkeling, and just relaxing on the beach.
The good thing about the weather on Oahu is that there is almost always a place on the island where it isn’t raining. If it is raining on the north shore, there is a good chance that it is sunny in Waikiki. Another good thing about the weather here is that usually doesn’t rain for very long, so don’t let a drizzle stop you from going on that hike. By the time you get there, it may have already stopped raining. So basically, the weather here is constantly changing.
That being said, I thought I would put together a list of fun “rainy day” activities on Oahu after our weekend of rain for those rare days when it rains a lot. I’ve done all of these, not necessarily on rainy days. They are worth checking out during your stay no matter what kind of weather you have, but if you find yourself here during a particularly rainy day, here are some fun things to do! Hopefully as I discover more awesome places on this island I will be able to add to this list.
1. Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States. The gorgeous exterior alone is worth a visit. Inside, you can take a tour and learn about the palace’s history the and about the lives of Hawaii’s royalty. This a really interesting place to visit and I think it should be on your itinerary whether or not it rains!
2. Hawaii State Art Museum
Inside the state capitol building, the Hawaii State Art Museum focuses mainly on contemporary art, with both rotating and permanent exhibitions. It’s always free and there are some really beautiful paintings, photographs, mixed media works, prints, and a sculpture garden. It is very small – you can see the whole thing in less than two hours.
3. Waikiki Aquarium
The Hawaiian islands are the most remote islands in the world, so there is some amazing marine life here that you can’t see anywhere else. I really like the Waikiki Aquarium, even though it’s very small, because you get the chance to see so many fish that are native to these islands.
You can see the rare chambered nautilus, which is native to the tropical Pacific. You can also see endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals, which are endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (meaning they are only found here), Hawaiian coral, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and living reef ecosystem, and more. You can see everything in a couple of hours. Some parts of the quadrivium are outside, but there is a lot to see inside.
4. Honolulu’s Bishop Museum
You could easily spend an entire day at the Bishop Museum exploring the history, culture, and art of Hawaii. I have been there twice, and I still haven’t seen everything! There are lots of different exhibits, live demonstrations, and tours of certain floors. If you want to spend an entire day inside, or just want a place to learn about Hawaiian culture, this is my top recommendation.
5. Pacific Aviation Museum
I wrote a detailed post about the Pacific Aviation Museum here, and I think it is a great thing to do when it rains on Oahu because there is so much history here. You can learn a lot about aviation history and gain a deeper understanding of the events surrounding WWII and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
6. Shop for souvenirs up on the north shore.
Rainy days are the best days for shopping, if you want to bring back some souvenirs. Head up to Haleiwa instead of shopping on the main Waikiki strip. There are some unique boutiques and art galleries, as well as some delicious places to eat. It’s probably the best town to wander around during light rain because there are so many different stores to go into. There are also tons of places to eat – smoothies, sushi, coffee, ice cream, shave ice – Haleiwa has it all. And there are lots of beaches nearby for when the rain stops!
7. Head to Hawaii’s best bookstore
I’ve written about my favorite bookstore on Oahu here, but what better day to spend a rainy day than wandering through a used bookstore? Stock up on some beach books and 10 cent magazines.
Get yourself on island time with a long, leisurely meal, followed by a nice cup of Hawaiian coffee! There is so much to see and do here that you are probably running around a lot, but take some time to just sit, relax, and enjoy the amazing foods of Hawaii!
Do you have anything to add to the list? I’d love some more ideas for things to do when it rains here!