Even though Hawaii typically glistens with bright sunshine, we’re also famous for our lush, green valleys. And, to get those lush, green valleys, we need rain. A lot of it. Though we don’t see too many rainy stretches in the resort areas of Oahu, it’s still good to have a plan just in case. That’s why we’ve put together our favorite things to do in Oahu when it rains.
So, if the showers come in, check out these great Oahu attractions. And now that we think about it, maybe visit them even if you enjoy great sunshine throughout your trip. After all, there’s a lot to see and do indoors in Hawaii!
The Best Things to Do During Oahu Rain
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 has exhibits focusing on history and science in Hawaii. 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.
My favorite part of the museum is their Planetarium – it’s absolutely fascinating.
To boot, the museum consistently houses traveling exhibits that offer world-class enrichment. They also have regular children’s programming and an outdoor garden that you can enjoy once the Oahu rains pass by.
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. It’s also where Queen Liliuokalani served her prison sentence during the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Political significance aside, the palace is a stunning example of the grandeur and opulence 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 a self-guided exploration of the basement gallery exhibits.
Plan to spend approximately 60-90 minutes on either tour. The palace is child-friendly as long as they aren’t rowdy or disruptive. Definitey a great thing to do on Oahu when it rains!
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 in Hawaii, and a research archive that provides a unique glimpse into 19th-century Hawaii both onsite and online.
Three main houses at this historic site are:
- 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. Missionary families and visitors used it as a communal home.
- 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. Some of the first books and printed materials in Hawaii were produced here. 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 information.
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.
They can explore the world, try out different careers, have some water play, and learn about Hawaii’s history, all in a super hands-on way.
As you consider things to do when it rains on Oahu, you can’t imagine dragging your little one away from the hotel pool. But once they’re at the Discovery Center, they’ll revel in a fun world of (air-conditioned!) magic.
5. The Waikiki Aquarium
Short on time? The Waikiki Aquarium is a great thing to do when it rains on Oahu, 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 sight 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 5 p.m.
Planning a Rain-Friendly Vacation in Oahu: Things to Do When it Rains
Here’s an Extra Tip: 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!
After all, that’s when you’ll get to see a rainbow.