Even though Hawaii is known for its abundant sunshine, we’re also known for our lush, green valleys. And, to get those lush, green valleys, we need rain. A lot of it.

If it rains during your Oahu vacation, never fear! There’s lots to do, even in the wet weather. Here’s a look at the top 5 things to do on Oahu if it’s raining:

1. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum: This museum is one of my favorite places on Oahu, rain or shine. It’s open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Thanksgiving and Christmas), so you’ll always have a place to turn if the beach isn’t an option. Founded in 1889, the museum features exhibits focused on history and science. The Bishop Museum has the world’s largest collection of Polynesian cultural artifacts and natural history specimens. Besides the comprehensive exhibits of Hawaiiana, the museum’s total holding of natural history specimens exceeds 24 million. The entomological collection alone represents more than 13.5 million specimens. To boot, the museum consistently houses traveling exhibits (currently, the museum is hosting the World of Wearable Art exhibit and the Duke Kahanamoku exhibit). And, if you have children, you’ll want to check-out the site’s extensive interactive learning center for children, complete with animal samples for investigating and a “volcano.” Visit www.bishopmuseum.org for more.

a photo of king kalakaua and other artifacts

Photo: Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) / Linda Ching

The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum houses the world's largest collection of Polynesian artifacts, like this photo of King Kalakaua.

2. Iolani Palace: Iolani Palace is the only official royal residence in the United States, and it holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Native Hawaiians and those who call Hawaii home. King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani lived in the residence, and Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned there during the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. Political significance aside, the palace is a stunning example of the grandeur and opulance that once personified the royal family. Iolani Palace offers two tour options: a docent Guided Tour and a Self-Led Audio Tour. Both options include a tour of the first and second floors of Iolani Palace followed by self-guided exploration of the basement gallery exhibits. It is suggested you allot approximately 60-90 minutes for either tour. Tour options vary based on the day of the week and the time. Go to www.iolanipalace.org for more details.

3. Hawaii Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives: The Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives (HMH) includes three restored houses, two of which are the oldest houses in Hawaii, and a research archives which provides a unique glimpse into 19th-century Hawaii both onsite and online.

Three main houses are featured:

  • The Frame House (Hale Laau) (1821): The oldest wood frame structure still standing in the Hawaiian Islands, it was shipped around Cape Horn from Boston in 1820. It was used as a communal home by many missionary families who shared it with island visitors and boarders.
  • Chamberlain House (Ka Hale Kamalani) (1831): This house bears the name of the Mission’s first secular agent in Hawaii, Levi Chamberlain. In 1831, Chamberlain contracted for the building of this structure, which was to be used as a depository. The building was made of coral blocks cut away from the ocean reef, which were dried and bleached by the sun. These blocks were arranged and assembled to build the Chamberlain House. From this location, Levi Chamberlain was able to plan out and undertake the disbursement of provisions for the entire Sandwich Islands Mission. It now serves as the Museum’s temporary Exhibition Gallery.
  • Printing Office (Ka Hale Pai) (1841):  Also built from coral blocks, this structure was completed in 1841 and contains a replica of the first printing press to be brought to Hawaii. Here, some of the first books and printed materials in Hawaii were produced. The restored printing office shows how early Protestant Missionaries and native Hawaiians collaborated on the production of numerous books and other printed materials first printed in the Hawaiian language.

Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided house tours are offered every hour starting at 11 a.m. The last tour is offered at 3 p.m. Visit the mission houses website for more.

the gate at iolani palace

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Iolani Palace is the only official royal residence in the United States, and it's where Queen Liliuokalani was imprisoned during U.S. occupation.

4. The Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center: Do you have young children with you? If so, check-out the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, which is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 pm. The center has four major galleries, each with hands-on exhibits and lots of learning experiences for the little ones. Does your daughter dream of becoming a television meteorologist? She can try it out in front of the green screen. Does you son want to learn about China or Japan? He can learn about different cultures through interactive “worlds” that represent a different place and culture. Visit here for details.

5. The Waikiki Aquarium: Short on time? The Waikiki Aquarium is a great place for a rainy day, especially if you only have an hour or so to spare. It’s the second-oldest aquarium in the United States, and it offers a maze of exhibits. Learn about box jellyfish and gaze at a venerable octopus. Or, take a break and zone-out to the soothing site of sharks, rays, and large fish that call the aquarium’s main tank home. The crowd favorite?  Probably the sea dragons and seahorses, which calmly float and flutter. And, keep in mind, the aquarium is a learning center, too. And, interactive—just outside the main building is a touch pool, where you can handle live hermit crabs and sea urchins. The aquarium is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check out the aquarium’s website for more information.

And, here’s an added bonus: When you book the Oahu All Inclusive Vacation Package through Hawaii Aloha Travel, you have the option of renting a car and sightseeing on your own. So, if it’s raining, you can take advantage of these rainy-day activities at your own pace.

The sunshine may be the main attraction for those who visit Hawaii, but when it rains, there’s still plenty to do. So, check-out these indoor activities on Oahu, and let it rain!


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