There isn’t much of a rainy season on Oahu, unlike Kauai which can go an entire month (typically December) without seeing the sun. That said, the island does get battered by precipitation from time to time, and while tropical rains can be appealing, it can also put a damper on plans. Don’t let it rain on your parade in paradise. Instead, check out our list for what to do when the skies are grey.
Top 10 Things to Do on a Rainy Day on Oahu
Cultural Immersion at Bishop Museum
The last thing people think of doing when vacationing on an island paradise, is visiting a museum. We admit that it’s a hard sell when the sky is blue. However, when the clouds block your Vitamin D you’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to spend a couple of hours than within the walls of the Bishop Museum.
The facility is so much more that what you may be familiar with back on the mainland. It houses authentic carvings and textiles along with some remarkable replicas. We’re talking centuries old tikis, vintage wooden surfboards (alaia, olo, paipo), war clubs, canoes, dioramas of ancient villages, and more. Collectively, the exhibitions provide for an immersive, engaging, and enthralling linear accounting of the people of Polynesia and the Hawaiian island chain. The museum is also home to the J. Watumull Planetarium, a great option for those who want to star-gaze on a rainy day. View more on the Bishop Museum.
Support the Arts at the HMA
Prefer getting your dose of culture via the arts? Then spend your rainy afternoon at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HMA). The exhibits found at HMA juxtapose both historical and contemporary Hawaiian culture through the eyes of some of the islands’ most recognized artists along with some very talented up-and-comers. View location, hours, and admission rates at the HMA.
Learn to Play the Ukulele
Sightseeing is fine, but why not use your rainy day on Oahu to learn to play the most delightful instrument on the planet? For a casual lesson, you can stop by the Ukulele Store at Waikiki Beach Walk which holds lessons every day. Many hotels on the island (such as the Princess Kaiulani) also offer FREE weekly group lessons for guests so be sure to inquire with the lobby concierge. For a more immersive and intensive experience that will teach you to do more than strum the C string, book a lesson with one of the island’s top teachers. Roy Sakuma is unquestionably the most renowned and influential ukulele teacher in all of Hawaii, if not the world. There are four Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studios, but the most convenient for you is located at 3555 Harding Avenue in Honolulu. Call (808) 732-3739 to book your lesson, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for general inquiries.
Learn to Make a Lei
Another culturally enriching rainy day activity is lei making. Like with the ukulele, many authentic Hawaiian Oahu resorts offer group lei making classes, but for a more dedicated experience that will leave you and your party with a new skill (and great smelling fingers!) we encourage you to get in touch with the Hawaii Hula Company. They offer lei and lei poʻo (flowered crowns) classes for groups on Oahu. Call or text (808) 646-1455 to ask about lessons.
Shop ‘Til You Drop at Ala Moana
Shopping may be an obvious rainy day activity, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing, especially when you have Hawaii’s largest shopping mall to spend the afternoon or entire day at. The open-air setting with plenty of awnings allows you to enjoy the island breeze without having to worry about soaking your bags of newly purchased treasures from one of the near-300 shops listed on their directory. There are also about 80 dining options between the foodcourt on the ground level and separate eateries on Level 4. View more on Ala Moana Center.
Go Antiquing, Hawaiian Style
Shopping for the newest fashions and gadgets not your thing? Have an old soul that needs fulfilling? Then go antiquing, Hawaiian style! Oahu is loaded with shops that are chock full of antiques, curio, kitsch, and period pieces. But instead of boring Victorian trinkets and silverware, these emporiums shelf items that honor the history of the islands. From decades-past Primo beer bottles, poi pounders, and vintage aloha shirts to historical maps of the Sandwich Islands there’s no telling what you’ll find. Some of our favorite store for vintage Hawaiiana include Bailey’s Antiques (Honolulu), Full Fathom (Kahuku), Back in the Day Hawaii (Waialua), The Vintage (Wahiawa), and Aliʻi Antiques (Kailua).
Get Deep in a Submarine
What to do when it rains? Go underwater, but do so while staying dry. Atlantis Submarines, located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, offers daily tours off of the shore of Waikiki. Through the glass of the water-tight vessel you’ll get a fish-eye view of tropical fish, sea turtles, manta rays, and old wrecks that have been sunken to build artificial reefs. This is one of those “touristy” things to do that is actually really fun to do. View location, hours, rates, and more.
Spend the Day at Ward Village
Ward Village has everything you need to bide the time while waiting for the rain to go away. It’s part shopping center, part community. And while the stores are not as numerous nor as flashy as those found at Ala Moana Center, it’s a historic place that has been updated to cater to the tastes of those in search of a more authentic experience. Highlight retailers include Na Mea Hawaii, Salvage Public, and Mahina Boutique. On every Saturday between 8 AM and 12 PM Ward Village also bustles with activity as host to the Kakaako Farmers Market. In addition, Ward Village is home to Consolidated Theatres Ward with TITAN LUXE – which is just a complicated name for a movie theater. The cinema shows new releases and blockbusters, but during the Honolulu International Film Festival (HIFF) you may stumble upon some hidden independent gems. Dining options are numerous at Ward Village too, making it the most well-rounded rainy day destination on Oahu.
Tropical Vibes and Libations at La Mariana
Swap your umbrella for an umbrella drink!
Do the ideas above sound like a lot of work for a rainy day? Then how does lounging around an island oasis with a tropical cocktail in hand and a plate full of tasty pupus on the table sound? While there are plenty of watering holes on Oahu, there is none better than the world’s last remaining authentic tiki bar – La Mariana Sailing Club. This spacious, bamboo and lauhala laden establishment will make you forget the downpour outdoors. You may even spy the gang from Magnum PI perched on bar stools, as La Mariana is one of the island’s most recognizable TV and film locations. View more on La Mariana Sailing Club.
Spend the Rainy Day Planning Your Sunny Day Adventures
This idea segues from our La Mariana suggestion above. Gather your crew, and head to a watering hole or cafe that doesn’t mind if you spend a few hours hanging out within. Sit down over coffee, cocktails, and pupus to plan out everything that you want to do when the sun shines on the island once again. This is a an enjoyable and efficient activity in one, allowing you to use your downtime to map out a day full of activities. Need some help? You can reference recommended activities and attractions on Oahu, and have a look at the following articles and itineraries:
- How to See Oahu in One Day
- Fun Things to Do in Waikiki Beach
- Fun Things to Do in Haleiwa
- How to Spend a Day on the North Shore (without a car)
- How to Spend a Day on the North Shore (with a car)
Do you have any questions about the above recommendations? Message us on Facebook to chat!