What to Do in Hawaii When it Rains: Maui, Oahu, Kauai, & Big Island Activities
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase through my links we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read about our affiliate policies here.
We put off writing these things to do when it rains in Hawaii list for years as all-day rains are so rare in Hawaii. But when a big storm system hits Hawaii, you’ll be in your hotel room thinking, “what to do in Hawaii when it rains!”
The winter of 2023 has been a wet one for Hawaii. Storm after storm after storm has hit the islands. When we lived in Hawaii, it was rare to get all-day or all-week rains. But, we still always had a list of things to do in the rain to keep our family busy.
For those who may be stuck in the rain in Hawaii, I’ll share ideas for rainy-day activities plus rainy weather safety tips.
Stay Safe on These Hawaii Rainy Day Things to Do
Adverse Hawaii weather isn’t the same as mainland weather. When the rains come, they come hard. We have seen Kihei, Maui receive an inch an hour during a storm.
See the bottom of this what to do in Hawaii when it rains article for weather data. I also share what it is like in Hawaii when it rains (spoiler: it isn’t a show-stopper on your trip).
Due to the tradewinds, elevations, and micro-climates, weather can change fast. That is why Hawaii has the most helicopter crashes of any state. Hence, we researched helicopter tour companies to only share the ones with the best safety records.
Here are some safety tips when figuring out what to do when it rains in Hawaii
- Stay away from streams, rivers, drainage ditches, and culverts
- During the wet season (November – March) be wary of swimming in waterfalls or hiking along streams. The sun can be shining in Hana, Maui while a storm rages 9,000 feet up on Haleakala, meaning streams can experience flash floods. That is why we have never recommended Waioka Pond (Venus Pool) outside Hana as it is well-known for washing people into the Pacific.
- Avoid driving when it is raining as roads can become flooded quickly.
- Look for road closures in the wet season.
- Avoid hiking in the rain due to the threat of flash floods and challenges with rescue
Some quick tips on what to do in Hawaii when it rains.
What to Do in Hawaii When it Rains Planning Tips
I’m not going to sugarcoat this, there are not a lot of things to do when it rains in Hawaii. Playing Scrabble is a common recommendation among locals.
Hawaii’s built landscape is made for outdoor living. Shopping centers, tours, restaurants, and bars are open-air or completely outdoors. Even exploring the Maui Ocean Center (aquarium) will be a wet day out as passing between buildings and exhibits will take you into the rain.
While the data says Maui is the best Hawaiian island to visit during the winter, Maui isn’t the best for things to do. Oahu wins that trophy. With all that said, I’m pretty proud of the list of things to do when it rains that I made below. I hope these keep your family happy on their Hawaii vacation.
4 Tips on Hawaii Things to Do in the Rain
Tip 1. A tip on booking tours: reserve a snorkel, whale watch, or sunset tour early in your trip in case the weather gets bad. The tour company may cancel your tour the day of if the weather isn’t looking safe. By booking early, you can hopefully reschedule for later in your vacation. Explore our favorite tours and activities to book your bucket list tour!
Tip 2. The show must go on! Luaus will continue to perform in the rain. As rains are usually quick and warm downpours, the luau dinner and performance will continue or not be canceled.
Now, if the weather is storming with high winds and torrential rains, then call your luau to see if the show is still planned. Hotel luaus are usually outdoors while some permanent luaus may have a covered pavilion.
Explore our 14 Best Luaus on Hawaii: Our Honest Reviews.
Tip 3. Finding a relaxing restaurant, happy hour (pau hana in Hawaii) spot, or lounge is a good way to enjoy local food and watch the rain. Find a restaurant or bar with live music to compliment the rain hitting the tin roof. I share a few recommended spots down below.
Here are our favorite Maui Live Music venues. We share our favorite restaurants on each of the islands in our Wayfinder Itineraries.
Tip 4. A hotel with a great kids’ pool is clutch to keep the kids entertained on a rainy Hawaii day. Rains are still warm in Hawaii (can get to a low of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in a tropical downpour) so the kids probably won’t mind going swimming. Find a hotel with a good pool in case of unexpected rain (if you’re reading this before arriving in Hawaii!)
- 7 Best Resorts on Maui for Families
- 10 Best Maui Resorts That’ll Make Your Kids Happy
- Where to Stay on Oahu with Kids
- 6 Best Luxury Hotels on the Big Island
In the spirit of positivity, here is what to do in Hawaii when it rains. You can book the recommended rainy-day tours directly with our links below. Some are affiliate links so we earn a small commission at no cost to you. Don’t delay, book these things to do when it rains before they sell out on a storm day.
Now, onto what to do in Hawaii when it rains!
What To Do on Oahu When it Rains
Oahu is by far the best island to be on when it rains. You’re in luck as you can do a lot of activities that you may have overlooked in the sun.
Many of these things to do on Oahu when it rains made our Unique Things to Do on Oahu video. Watch the video to see what these places are all about!
- Hawaiian Style Cooking Class is by a local chef in her private residence in the Diamond Head neighborhood near Waikiki. Sign up to make local dishes and enjoy your cooking afterward.
- Museums! The best ones to explore would be the Bishop Museum of Polynesian and Natural History and the Honolulu Museum of Modern Art with a trip to Shangri La
- ‘Iolani Palace is the only palace on American soil and had indoor plumbing before the White House. Enjoy a self-guided or docent-led tour to learn the history of the Hawaiian Royal Family.
- Queen Emma Summer Palace is a good stop if you’re heading over to Kailua as it is directly off the Pali Highway.
- Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC): While most Oahu luaus are outdoors and continue rain or shine, the PCC’s Ali’i Luau, Gateway Buffett, and HA: Breath of Life Show are indoors or in pavilions. Even their Polynesian Island Nation exhibits are mostly covered from the elements. See our Ali’i Luau vs Gateway Buffet for details.
- Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center in Honolulu is a science and exploration center great for kids.
- Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and USS Battleship Missouri at Pearl Harbor. While Pearl Harbor National Memorial is mostly outdoors, escape the rain by exploring these amazing national treasures for a complete history of America in WWII.
- Waikiki Aquarium is a good way to keep the kids entertained in Waikiki. The Honolulu Zoo is across the street but that is mostly outdoors.
- For great food and beers, head to Kaka’ako neighborhood in Honolulu for a wonderful selection of local breweries like Hana Koa Brewing Co, Honolulu Aleworks, and Aloha Beer Company.
- Ala Moana Mall, Royal Hawaiian Center, and The International Marketplace are in or just outside of Waikiki. Enjoy some shopping while it is raining. While these are open-air malls, you will be mostly covered from the rain.
Find more things to do in our 23 Things to Do on Oahu with Kids or our 40 Things to Do on Oahu.
What To Do on Maui When it Rains
We always had trouble keeping our son Henry entertained when it rained on Maui. The rain brought our family together for stories and charades. But check out these items to get you out of the condo or hotel room.
While Erica enjoyed ziplining in the rain in Kapalua, we are sticking to indoor activities here.
- Maui Ocean Center to see Maui’s ocean life up close. Our son loves the open ocean tank with the aquarium tunnel to see sharks and stingrays. The aquarium is uncovered between buildings so you may still get wet!
- Go underwater when it rains! As long as the surf isn’t too rough or visibility is poor, head out on Atlantis Submarine to explore a sunken boat or try a semi-submersible with the ReefDancer. Both vendors will call or text you if they end up canceling due to poor visibility due to the rain.
- Maui Escape Room in Ka’anapali Whalers Village provides a creative way to use your mind and perhaps bring the family together (or drive you apart). Prison Break, Ka Puka Bunker, and Tesla’s Inheritance are their most popular.
- Hawai’i Wildlife Discovery Center in Ka’anapali Whalers Village is a wonderful place to take the kids to learn about Hawaii’s oceans and wildlife for a couple of hours.
- Museums! While not as large as Oahu’s museums, you can still get engrossed in the amazing history of the island. In Lahaina, you can explore the Lahaina Heritage Museum at the Banyan Tree Court or take a tour of the Baldwin House. Near Kahului and Wailuku, go to the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum or the Maui Historical Society.
- Downtown Lahaina is the place to go shopping and eating on Maui. While historic Front Street is mainly outdoors, hop into the art galleries and shops to escape the rain. See our Lahaina Visitor’s Guide for more rainy-day ideas!
- Shopping centers to catch a live hula show or lei making workshops include The Shops at Wailea, Lahaina Cannery Mall (cannery and sugar museum is indoors), and Ka’anapali Whalers Village.
- Moana Glass for a glass blowing lesson. Located in Wailuku (Central Maui), take the family to make souvenirs while it rains.
- Explore Upcountry Maui if the roads are safe to drive. See our 15 Amazing Things to Do in Upcountry Maui for wine tasting, farm-to-table restaurants, vodka distillery tour, and more.
- Ultimate Air Maui Trampoline Park is where local families go to keep their kids entertained. For safety, check their schedule to find jumping times for little ones, teenagers, and professional jumpers.
For restaurants to escape the rain and enjoy live music close to your resort, check out these restaurants:
- 15 Can’t Miss Restaurants in Wailea and Kihei
- 10 Best Restaurants in Lahaina
- Dinner on the Beach in Maui: Private Dining and Beachfront Restaurants
- 15 Best Coffee Shops on Maui
Maui has a lot of wonderful kid activities. Explore our 68 Things to Do on Maui with Kids and our 33 Things to Do on Maui.
What To Do on Kauai When it Rains
Kauai is the wettest Hawaiian island by far, hence it is the Garden Isle. Therefore I expect this list to be a big help for Kauai vacationers. You can park yourself in a cafe or restaurant or head out on one of the tours and activities below. Some will make you wetter but heck, you’re on vacation.
- Movie and TV Guided Tour: let a local guide show you the famous locations where some of the 70 movies that have been made in Kauai have been filmed. Also, the tour includes exploring Hanalei Town for shopping and food so you may get a little wet.
- Best Food Tours on Kauai: choose what part of Kauai you want to explore and a local guide will have you sample artisan foods, meet chefs and farmers, and indulge in some of the best cuisine the island has to offer.
- Mountain Tubing Adventure will take you through irrigation canals and deep into a private rainforest. We had a blast on this tour and it goes rain or shine as you’re in the water anyways.
- Kauai Coffee is the largest coffee farm in America. Go to their gift shop, sip their coffee at the cafe, and take a tour if you want to brave the rain.
- Grab some shave ice while it rains. Kauai has some of our favorite shave ice places, see our 5 Best Shave Ice Spots on Kauai.
- Get even wetter (and muddy) on an ATV tour near Poipu with a ranch tour or their private waterfall tour. Rain or shine, the ATV tours go out.
- Shopping centers to check out for activities and shopping include The Shops at Kukuiula (in Poipu), Poipu Shopping Village, and Coconut Marketplace in Kapa’a
Here are more things to do on Kauai for ideas:
What To Do on The Big Island When it Rains
Most visitors stay in West Hawaii when they visit the Big Island and for good reason. Kailua-Kona gets 18 inches a year in rain while the luxurious Kohala Coast gets less than 10 inches a year. So if you are unlucky to get rain, check out this list.
Kailua-Kona Things to Do When it Rains
- Hulihe’e Palace in downtown Kailua-Kona offers guided tours of the former residence of Kamehameha the Great. The palace is small but the history of this place goes deep.
- Kona for Beer Tasting: Kona Brewery and Ole Brew Co are a block apart creating an opportunity for beer tasting, tours, and good food.
- Ocean Riders Seahorse Farm is the place to learn about seahorses with the kids!
- Shopping centers for activities and shows include Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa, Queens’ Marketplace in Waikoloa, and Prince Kuhio Plaza.
- Kona Sea Salt Farm continues to give tours in the rain. Some of the tour is indoors and for outdoor sections, they provide umbrellas. Located near Kailua-Kona Airport (KOA).
- Go underwater on the Atlantis Submarine if the surf isn’t too rough offshore Kailua-Kona
- 808 Escape Rooms in Kailua-Kona will keep your group entertained and out of the rain. Book their Aunty Pukalani’s Escape Room or Reagan’s Possession.
Don’t forget to see our 12 Epic Things to Do in Kona with Kids for more ideas.
Hilo Hawaii Things to Do When it Rains
Hilo on the other side of the Big Island is in a rainforest climate so expect lots of rain. For good reason, you will find more rainy day things to do on this part of the island.
- ATV off-road adventure north of Hilo will take you out to get muddy in the rain.
- Downtown Hilo is full of cute restaurants and coffee shops. Park downtown and walk under the awnings to find a place to enjoy the rainfall.
- Hilo Farmers Market is under a covered tent as rain is so common. Go shopping for local produce, honey, chocolate, and so many other local products.
- Pacific Tsunami Museum shares the history of tsunamis and why Hilo is susceptible to them.
- Hilo Brewing Company will keep you dry in their tasting room or just go for happy hour.
- Lyman Museum and Mission House is a Hawaiian natural history museum in a restored missionary house.
- Kuamana Caves is a cave park 10 minutes from Hilo. Explore the lava tube but a flashlight is required!
- ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center has interactive exhibits and shares the history of voyaging Polynesians finding the islands using the stars for navigation.
See our Hilo 1-Day Itinerary for details on spending the day in Hilo.
Hawaii When It Rains: Planning Your Vacation
Don’t let the chance of rain spoil your Hawaii trip planning or your vacation. Hawaii is lush and tropical thanks to the rain.
Most rains are quick showers that are warm. Tours will continue, beach days are not ruined, and the luau will continue.
There is a higher probability of an all-day rain or an all-week storm in the winter. November, December, and January are historically the wettest months in Hawaii.
If you have the bad luck of hitting a storm during your visit, then I hope this list of what to do in Hawaii when it rains helps!
For more trip-planning resources and perfectly planned excursion days around Hawaii, check out our Wayfinder itineraries. Your family or travel partner will be impressed with your planning skills!