It is winter in Hawaii. A mist hangs over Diamond Head and wet roads stall traffic. It has rained steadily for a couple of days, heavily enough that I need an umbrella or rain jacket rather than my usual hoodie. It is not a day to relax on the beach and a little too soggy for walking tours or hikes. What to do if you’re on vacation? I think there are two approaches you might take.

First, have some inside activities in mind that would substitute for outside plans if it rains. Oahu has many museums, so many that I haven’t gotten to them all. Often the list of things you want to do on vacation is just too long to include a museum visit but it is a great rainy day stand-in. Since reservations are not required, you can wait to see what the day brings. The Bishop Museum is probably the best known; it is the largest in the state and has an international reputation. However, there are many smaller or special interest museums on Oahu and the neighbor islands. The Hawaii Museums Association has a long list of historical and cultural attractions on all the islands you might wish to consult.

The second approach is to spend more time at places already on your travel itinerary. For example, we often take people to the Queen Emma Summer Palace for a quick stop on the way to the Pali lookout. Today would be a day to linger, to look at all the items and visit with the always-interesting docents. I hear a new story each time I visit. Similarly, Shangri-La is one of my favorite places in Honolulu. To see Doris Duke’s estate and its collection of Islamic art, you must depart from the Honolulu Academy of Art. Each time, I allow an hour to look at the art exhibits and have lunch in the cafe but I haven’t scratched the surface of the art academy displays. Visiting Shangri-La requires a reservation and some advance planning but the art academy is an easy impromptu stop. The academy gift shop has many unique items and books about Hawaii; it would also be nice to spend more time there.

Either way, there are many options for your Hawaii vacation on rainy days. After all, it’s always a good day if you’re in Hawaii.


  1. Great post Cindy!  Museums and art galleries are great ideas during downpours like this!
    Another good idea during weather like this is to take a drive around Oahu…I've driven the H3 during rainy weather and the view is breath-taking. And of course the waterfalls are really flowing due to all this rain.

  2. Great point on the waterfalls — last time it rained, we saw them all along the way! The rain also makes the Hamakua swamp VERY happy 🙂

  3. Gotta put my 2Cents in on this … and recommend that a visitor look at the weekly forcast  (here on Hawaii— you actually have to LOOK for a cloudy/rainy day)  then plan your shopping day for that day when the weather might not be absolutely perfect.   And if it's later in the afternoon, there's a good chance you'll still get a good sunset.  Yesterday was cloudy and rainy all day.  I never expected a nice ending, but was rewarded with this at the very last minutes of light.

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