Hawaii is blessed with pleasant weather virtually year-round. It’s a top reason why nearly 10 million people visit the Islands each year. But while temperatures generally hover between the mid 70s to mid 80s, it still does rain in Hawaii and sometimes the weather can go from sunny skies to torrential downpour in a minute—and then back again. And chances are, if it’s raining in one part of the island, it’s sunny on the other coast. (The eastern, or Windward side of each island is usually wetter than the Leeward or west coasts, which are more arid and drier.)
Rain shouldn’t ruin your day, though. It’s what keeps Hawaii’s beautiful environment lush and green. In olelo Hawaii, or the Hawaiian language, there’s a saying, “When the sky weeps, the Earth lives,” or Uwe ka lani, ola ka honua. Rain is viewed as a blessing from the kupuna, or ancestors. In fact, in the Hawaiian language, there are more than 200 words for rain. These include nuanced and descriptive words for different types of rain, rain during certain times or in specific places across the Islands.
There’s still plenty to do on a rainy day in Hawaii. Here’s what to do on each island.
1525 Bernice Street, 808-847-3511 • bishopmuseum.org
Bishop Museum is a must-visit while on Oahu, no matter what the weather. The museum is home to more than 24 million items showcasing the rich history of Hawaii, its people, as well as Pacific Islander culture. It is Hawaii’s designated culture and history museum. Bishop Museum was founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his late wife, Princess Pauahi Bishop as a way to display the princess’ royal artifacts. The museum has permanent collections and traveling exhibitions, ranging on everything from dinosaurs to Rapa Nui.
Above: You can easily spend a few hours touring the diverse range of exhibits at Bishop Museum.
Honolulu Museum of Art
900 South Beretania Street, 808-532-8700 • honolulumuseum.org
The Honolulu Museum of Art was founded in 1927 with the personal collection of husband and wife, Charles and Anna Rice Cooke, each from well-known missionary families. Today, the museum has amassed a permanent collection of more than 50,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years.
Galleries feature works from Oceania, ancient Sumer, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The museum also has the third-largest collection of Japanese ukiyo-e Japanese prints in the country as well as contemporary art from Hawaii artists.
Above: Rainy days provide the perfect opportunity to spend time admiring art from around the world at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
Moana Surfrider Veranda
2365 Kalakaua Ave., 808-922-3111 • moana-surfrider.com
Watch the rain come down as you sip tea at Hawaii’s first hotel, the Moana Surfrider, affectionally known as the First Lady of Waikiki. Afternoon tea has been a tradition here since the hotel opened in 1901. At The Veranda, steps from the Moana’s iconic banyan tree, classic tea service includes finger sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and pastries to accompany a selection of hot teas.
Above: Spend a wet afternoon indoors enjoying Afternoon Tea at Moana Surfrider Veranda served daily from 12 to 3 p.m.
364 S King Street, 808-522-0822 • iolanipalace.org
Step back in time—and keep dry—with a visit to Iolani Palace in Honolulu. The palace served five Hawaiian kings. It also notably had electricity and telephones installed several years before the White House. Visitors can see the first and second floors, basement and the palace’s accompanying barracks and manicured royal grounds. There are self-led or docent-guided tours available.
Above: Hawaii's monarch lived in splendor, all perfectly preserved and on display at the Iolani Palace.
Maui Ocean Center
192 Maalaea Road, 808-270-7000 • mauioceancenter.com
One of the most popular rainy-day activities in Maalaea in West Maui is the Maui Ocean Center. The center features more than 60 exhibits—including a 54-foot long walk-through tunnel—and also has one of the largest collections of live Pacific corals in the world. Every marine mammal at the center is found in the Islands, some of which live nowhere else but Hawaii. This makes it a great place to learn about the underwater life you have, or will, spot during your snorkeling or scuba diving sessions.
Above: Audiences of all ages enjoy the abundant sea life found at the Maui Ocean Center.
Maui Brewing Co.
605 Lipoa Parkway, 808-201-2337 • mauibrewingco.com
Learn how the Big Swell IPA is made while you wait for the big clouds to go away. Maui Brewing Co., Hawaii’s largest brewery, offers daily tours at its location in Kihei in southwest Maui. The 45-minute guide tour, which is $15, takes craft beer enthusiasts through the brewhouse, cellar and aluminum can packaging line. The best part? The tour ends with tastings of Maui Brewing’s flagship beers.
Above: Ever wonder how beer is made? A rainy day is a good time to find out when you visit Maui Brewing Co.
Spa Grande at Grand Wailea Resort
3850 Wailea Alanui Drive, 808-875-1234 x 4949 • grandwailea.com
The name says it all. The Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort in South Maui is indeed "grand"— with over 40 treatment rooms! In fact, its 50 square-foot facility makes it Hawaii's largest spa. Spa Grande features traditional treatments such as massages, facials and body wraps, but it is also a full-service salon and fitness center with personal training and poolside services. There’s so much to do, so let the rain come down for a few hours.
Above: Guests at the Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort don't worry too much about the weather during relaxing spa treatments.
Baldwin Home Museum
120 Dickenson Street, 808-661-3262 • lahainarestoration.org
Home to Reverend Dwight Baldwin, this now-museum facing Front Street in Lahaina is one of Maui’s oldest houses that’s still standing. It was built between 1834 and 1835. Originally from New England, Baldwin and his wife Charlotte Fowler and their eight children—six of whom lived (two died of dysentery before the age of three)—opened their home to traveling captains and Hawaiian royalty. The home was painstakingly restored and today, the museum features original photographs and artifacts as well as donated pieces and furniture representative of the 1850s.
Above: Take a historical journey when you visit the Baldwin Home Museum in Lahaina.
Talk Story Book Store
3785 Hanapepe Road, 808-335-6469 • talkstorybookstore.com
On a rainy day, a bookstore is never more inviting. In the age of buying and doing everything online, Talk Story Bookstore is refreshingly tactile. The bookstore is located in Hanapepe, a sleepy former plantation town. Talk Story is known for being the Western-most book store in the U.S. Owned by wife and husband Cynthia and Ed Justus, Talk Story has new and used titles, plus out-of-print and rare editions. Find a history tome, cookbook or something by a Hawaii-based author to wait out the wet weather.
Above: The weather outside won't stop you from pouring through the exciting collection of books found at Talk Story Book Store.
4428 Rice Street, 808-245-6931 • kauaimuseum.org
Escape the Garden Island’s showers and learn about Kauai and Niihau with a visit to Kauai Museum. The modest-size museum is located in Lihue. It tells the story of King Kaumualii, the last independent king of Kauai, who also negotiated peace with Kamehameha. The museum features stunning royal portraits, large stone poi, or taro, pounders, rare Koa wood bowls, ipu, or gourds and shell lei from Niihau.
Above: Learn about Kauai's rich history at the Kauai Museum located in Lihue.
3-2087 Kaumualii Highway, 808-245-7245 • kilohanakauai.com
Explore Hawaii’s agricultural history with a visit to Kilohana Plantation. The land was originally purchased by Albert Wilcox in the late 1880s and used for cattle ranching and later as a sugar plantation. Today, the 104-acre property features a theatrical luau, 11 shops to browse through, a railway and working train and a large plantation home, of which the courtyard now serves as Gaylord’s restaurant. (Gaylord was Albert’s brother who took over the plantation.)
Above: Visitors to Kilohana will delight in its agricultural park, Plantation Railway and fabulous restaurant and lounge.
75-5718 Alii Drive, 808- 329-1877 • daughtersofhawaii.org
Once home to Hawaiian royalty, including Kamehameha, Hulihee Palace, located next to Kona Bay, was first built in 1838 from lava rock. Today, it’s a living museum on the National Register of History Places. Keep dry while learning about Hawaii’s monarchs as you walk through the palace’s six rooms. Hulihee Palace showcases artifacts during King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani’s reign, including Koa wood furniture, feature work, kapa or bark cloth, Hawaiian quilts and more.
Above: If time permits, catch a free monthly concert at Hulihee Palace, honoring a different alii or historical figure.
Big Island Candies
585 Hinano Street, #4428, 808-935-8890 • bigislandcandies.com
Let the rain be your excuse to indulge in delicious locally made chocolates. Established in 1977, Big Island Candies is a Big Island tradition. It’s known for macadamia nut chocolates and shortbread cookies. Big Island Candies’ flagship store and factory is located in Hilo, and production, often done by hand, is viewable through large glass windows, so it’s easy to see how the magic happens. Big Island Candies sweets are made using macadamia nuts, eggs and coffee grown on Hawaii Island.
Above: Sweet confections from Big Island Candies are a delightful way to brighten up any day.
Lyman Museum and Mission House
276 Haili Street, 808- 935-5021 • lymanmuseum.org
There’s something for all museum buffs at the Lyman Museum. The Smithonian-affiliated museum, located in Hilo, has natural history exhibits, including mineral and gem collections, as well as artifacts detailing the history of Hawaii’s indigenous peoples. There’s also information on the Islands’ rich plantation past.
Above: Step back in time at the Lyman Museum and Mission House and learn a thing or two while you are there.
Imiloa Astronomy Center
600 Imiloa Place, 808- 932-8901 • imiloahawaii.org
At Imiloa Astronomy Center, it doesn’t matter what the sky is doing outside, because you can learn about the vast universe inside. Part of the University of Hawaii at Hilo, the astronomy center opened in 2006. The 40,000-square-foot exhibition and planetarium complex features planetarium shows, culture-based science programs, as well as evening stargazing.
Above: Get lost in space at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii, where you can explore the universe.