6 Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Hawaii

By Hawaii.com Team

Raindrops on plumeria flowers. Photo: Hawaii.com member Renee J.

With Hawaii being a state that enjoys idyllic weather, enveloped by near eternal sunshine, one might imagine that a rainy day would be a damper upon this tropical paradise. However, Hawaiians have long revered rain as being a blessing — considering the precipitation to be liquid drops of the earth’s love and provision, sent straight from the heavens.

In fact, islanders have an ancient saying, “Uwe ka lani, ola ka honua,” which explains this perspective perfectly: When the heavens weep, the earth lives. This theme — rain bringing life — runs through Hawaiian culture like a golden thread woven through a tropical tapestry; it shines and attests to all that view it, saying “there is something special here — and it is good.”

Rainbows, a direct product of tropical showers, are associated with the joy of promise, the peace of well-being and the healing of renewal. Their colorful beams of iridescent light directly mirror each heart that has the blessing of gazing upon their beauty. Who hasn’t seen a rainbow’s splendor and sensed a tingling sensation of life wash anew over them?

And although rain is seen as a good omen, Hawaiians also know that when the heavens open to bless, one must find alternatives to being outdoors. And Hawaiʻi has plenty.  Here are some things to do when it rains in Hawaiʻi.

1. Visit Museums and Galleries

Honolulu Museum of Art, Oahu. Photo: arcticpenguin.

Delve into island history by visiting Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, or stop by the Mission Houses Museum, where you can peruse documents, artifacts and photographs from 1820 to 1863. The Kauai Museum is passionate about the Aloha Spirit and invites you to join one of their daily cultural activities. Hilo’s nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated Lyman Museum celebrates the rich cultural heritage as well as the one-of-a-kind natural wonders of Hawaiʻi. On Maui, visit the Bailey House Museum for a step into the past or the Hui Noeaʻu Visual Arts Center for a sampling of local fine art.

2. Have an Indoor Adventure

Photo: Imiloa Astronomy Center.

Dive into Hawaiian culture at Lāʻie’s Polynesian Cultural Center, where visitors are offered a proverbial immersion experience, including live music, dancing, and exhibits. And although it may be raining outdoors, the indoor Waikiki Aquarium proves that one still can enjoy nature at its fullest. On Maui, be enchanted by the underwater world of the Maui Ocean Center. Here’s an insider tip: Be sure to get here early. The admission line gets very long on rainy days. In Hilo, stargaze in the Imiloa Astronomy Center’s planetarium where ancient Hawaiian culture meets state-of-the-art technology.

3. Get Above the Clouds

Just outside the Haleakalā Visitor’s Center. Photo courtesy of Jason Carpenter.

If you’re on Maui or the Big Island, you’re lucky enough to be able to take a drive up above the cloud line. Maui’s Haleakalā National Park offers otherworldly views and outdoor adventures. The same goes for Mauna Kea on the Big Island, the world’s tallest mountain when measured from below sea level.

4. Seek Sun on the Drier Sides of the Islands

Olivine pools, Maui.  Photo: Mike.

Sometimes all it takes to find some sun is to wait awhile. Hawaiʻi’s weather changes quickly and showers will often blow over. Other times sun can be found with a little sun-seeking. It may be raining where you are, while the other side of the island is soaked in sunshine. Take a drive out to Ko Olina on Oʻahu to swim in man-made lagoons. Ko Olina is home to some of Oʻahu’s best resorts, like Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Four Seasons Resort Oʻahu at Ko Olina. Venture out to West Maui’s Kahakuloa area where you can stop at Nakalele Blowhole, hike down to the Olivine pools, and savor some local banana bread. Kauaʻi is home to the wettest spot on Earth, Mount Waiʻaleʻale. However, journey out west and you’ll find drier areas on a rainy day. The historic town of Waimea is a great stop for lunch and shopping, and if you’re up to the drive out to Polihale State Park you’ll find the best spot on Kauaʻi to watch the sunset. On the Big Island, the South Kohala coast is your best bet for eternal sunshine. This is where some of the best beaches are located. You can also visit Puʻukohola Heiau, an ancient Hawaiian temple that was once used for human sacrifice by Kamehameha the Great.

5. Go Shopping!

Shopping in Kailua. Photo: Napua Heen/ Hawaii.com.

And if all else fails? A rainy day makes a great shopping day! Head on over to Ala Moana or any of Kailua’s or Kaimukī’s niche boutiques to nab that special souvenir if you’re on the island of Oʻahu. On Kauai, you can play mini-golf and maybe catch some live music while shopping at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center or peruse the galleries and boutiques at Kilohana Plantation. Here are our recommendations for shopping on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi and the Big Island.

6. Consider the Showers a Blessing

Rain leaves the flowers refreshed. Photo courtesy of Paul Oka.

We’ve provided many options for enjoying Hawaiʻi when it rains. Yet, we don’t want you to miss the opportunity to enjoy the rain. Another Hawaiian saying, “Ola i ka wai a ka `opua,” meaning “There is life in the water from the clouds,” further reiterates the wonder and respect with which Hawaiians regard rain. As well as bringing life and replenishing the earth around us, we see the symbolic ways that rain cleanses and ushers in new life within. So, as you can see, come rainy day or sunshine, every islander can attest, “Lucky we live Hawaiʻi!”

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