Hawaii is renowned for its amazing tropical weather, which means we’ll have sunny beaches and clear skies all the time, right?
Even Paradise needs some precipitation to keep its vegetation lush and climate balmy.
You’ll find, however, that the majority of attractions and activities in Oahu are found in the great outdoors.
And why wouldn’t they be? Most of the time, Hawaii’s weather is perfect for outdoor adventures: the sun is warm but not harsh, the humidity is moist but not stifling, and there’s always a breeze to cool you off when you need it.
It’s not always sunny, though, and if you’re unlucky you might find your scheduled sightseeing tour is canceled due to inclement weather.
Hope is not lost, however, as there’s still plenty of things to do when it’s raining out.
Check out this list for ideas on how to spend your rainy day on Oahu:
1. Attend a night show
Although most luaus are held outdoors and would be canceled in the event of heavy rain, Oahu still has night shows in Waikiki that will astound and delight.
Rock-A-Hula is a popular show in Waikiki featuring celebrity impersonators, most famously Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, performing alongside contemporary & traditional hula, and a Samoan fire knife dance!
Dinner options include a buffet and a VIP stageside dinner. The buffet is held in an open-air terrace, so you’ll want to opt for the VIP option if you’re afraid of getting wet.
Magic of Polynesia
True to its name, this show features magic accompanied by hula and fire dancing.
Comedy and audience participation are also a large part of the show, so there’s never a dull moment.
You can attend the show only, or get dinner as part of your package.
Blue Note Hawaii
If you’re into Jazz, you’ve probably heard of Blue Note Jazz Club, located in New York. Their Hawaii branch can be found in the Outrigger Waikiki.
Blue Note features a variety of musicians, local and international, across a diverse selection of genres from blues, jazz, and soul to Hawaiian, reggae, and pop.
A cycling list of featured artists means the venue is open every night—check regularly for details on upcoming performances.
2. Visit a local attraction
Oahu, and Honolulu in particular, offers a variety of things to do that won’t put you in the sun or rain.
The Bishop Museum is Hawaii’s premier museum, and the best place to learn about Hawaii‘s history, culture, environment, and wildlife.
If you’re interested in Hawaiian history, the Museum needs to be on your list of things to do during your stay.
Bishop Museum’s planetarium is also a popular attraction for kids and adults alike, projecting an educational and entertaining show on its domed roof.
This relatively-small aquarium is located right on the Waikiki shoreline, and hosts thousands of creatures of almost 500 different species of coral, invertebrates, and sea mammals.
The aquarium is popular with kids, and children under three years old get in for free.
It isn’t Sea Life Park, however: you won’t be spending the whole day here, but you’ll find plenty to do within walking distance.
Pearl Harbor features a variety of exhibits and attractions, including the Pacific Aviation Museum, the Arizona Memorial, and the USS Missouri.
Most of the exhibits are indoors or at least independent of the weather, so bring a jacket, poncho, or umbrella and you’ll be set to enjoy a fun and educational day at Pearl Harbor.
3. Do something indoors instead
Believe it or not, not every resident of Hawaii spends their free time at the beach or hiking.
For those people, there’s still plenty to do in the slightly-less-great indoors. For example:
Breakout is a relatively new attraction, capitalizing on the surge in popularity of escape rooms across the nation.
For the uninitiated, participants are put into a room from which they must escape with a 1-hour time limit.
You aren’t actually locked in (for your safety), but you only “complete” the room if you solve a series of puzzles that will supply you with a passcode for the exit door.
Breakout in Waikiki garnered a lot of attention when President Obama visited with his daughters. They got out with seconds to spare, which is more than what can be said for the HawaiiActivities’ staff’s attempt…
It’s probably the last thing you’d expect to do in Hawaii, but Ice Palace is an unexpectedly popular ice skating rink in Honolulu that’s operated for decades.
With available skate rentals, food and drinks, and an arcade to distract you when you’re tired of skating, Ice Palace is the perfect place to spend the day if you can’t be outdoors but still want to move your legs.
This gym, located in Kapolei, is another indoor activity that will have you moving.
iTrampoline features a large trampoline gym where you can play basketball, start a game of trampoline dodgeball, or just literally bounce off the walls.
It’s extremely popular with kids, but adults tend to have a blast here, too (whether or not they admit it).
4. Fall back on the traditional rainy-day activities
Just because you aren’t home doesn’t mean you’re completely without the “regular” options.
This might be your chance to do something you never took the time to do at home, like:
Why, yes, you do need another colorful floral-print dress/shirt.
Ala Moana is the largest open-air shopping mall in the U.S., which might seem like a bad idea given Hawaii’s penchant for passing showers, but there’s enough cover throughout the mall that you’ll find plenty to do/see/buy without getting caught in the rain.
Head to a theater
Of course it’s cheaper to stay in your hotel and pick out a pay-per-view movie, but you’re on vacation. Live a little.
The aforementioned Pearlridge Center and Kahala Mall both conveniently feature their own movie theaters. Other great options are Regal Theaters at Dole Cannery and Consolidated Theaters at Ward Warehouse.
The theater at Ward features premium sections with plush leather reclining seats and full food-and-drink menus (including alcohol for the grown-ups).
Get a massage
Many resorts provide massage and spa facilities within the hotel itself, but if not, there are plenty you can find around town.
There’s nothing more relaxing than receiving a massage in Hawaii while listening to the soft pitter-patter of rain outside.
Go to a bar or restaurant
Hawaii has a burgeoning microbrewery scene, so it isn’t difficult to find a good craft beer no matter where you are.
In Waikiki, Maui Brewing Co. and Waikiki Brewing Company are great restaurants that offer local beers. Kaka’ako, however, is Honolulu’s center for breweries, featuring four different brewpubs in a half-mile radius: BeerWorks, Brewseum, Aloha Beer Company, and REAL.
If you’re a foodie, the wonderful (and sometimes strange) fusion of Hawaiian, Asian, and American foods in Hawaii is something you need to experience firsthand.
If you want real Hawaiian food, Ono Hawaiian Foods is a no-frills small restaurant that serves authentic Hawaiian meals located on Kapahulu, right outside Waikiki. For a more local flavor, you can’t go wrong with Rainbow Drive-In or one of the many Zippy’s scattered throughout Honolulu.
Better yet, go on a food tour and sample a variety of local offerings.
5. Suck it up
Chances are, the weather isn’t that bad, and you probably won’t have to cancel whatever activity you’ll be doing. A little bit of water never hurt anyone, right?
Here’s a few things you can do that won’t be bothered by a bit* of rain:
*(Note that I said “a bit of rain.” HawaiiActivities accepts no responsibility for individuals who decide it’s a good idea to go to the beach during a tsunami warning.)
Visit Wet’N’Wild waterpark
Rain won’t deter you from riding the fun and thrilling rides at Oahu’s only waterpark, located in Kapolei.
It might actually be better in the rain, considering you could spend the entire day at the park without worrying about sunburn or hot feet.
Do something dirty
Kualoa Ranch and Coral Crater both offer ATV rides that are arguably more fun when it’s wet.
Rain just means mud, and mud is just another word for fun—the English checks out.
Find a waterfall
Oahu has many waterfalls, but some of them only run during or after the rain. If you’re feeling brave and don’t mind getting muddy, consider a waterfall hike.
Wade into the ocean
You’ll be getting wet anyway, right?
For the most part, a bit of rain won’t affect snorkeling much. If you’re near a river or stream outlet, runoff might affect visibility and overcast conditions will definitely make it harder to see, but the fish and coral generally remain unbothered by the surface weather.
6. Drive 15 minutes away
The thing about rain in Hawaii is that it never lasts long.
Excluding hurricane season, the majority of precipitation on the islands appears in the form of passing showers.
Even then, the steep mountains and valleys that characterize Oahu make it so any rain is localized in a relatively small area.
Raining in town? Drive through the Pali to the windward side and, chances are, you’ll find a drier climate.
Failing that, you can always head out to the Leeward side, which is perpetually dry.
If none of that works, you’ll just have to
7. Give up and sleep in
Clearly your vacation wasn’t going to work out anyway. You might just be perpetually unlucky. Shouldn’t have picked up that lava rock from the Big Island…
What’s your go-to thing to do in rainy weather? Tell us in the comments!