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a traffic light next to a palm tree on a rainy day

What a bummer! You came to Oahu expecting nothing but sunshine and fun on the beach and what does Mother Nature have in store for you? A day of clouds and rain. While it feels disappointing when the weather isn’t cooperating, a rainy day on Oahu is really nothing to fret about.

First, all of those fun activities you had planned will be there tomorrow. Second, Oahu offers plenty of indoor entertainment so your day doesn’t have to be wasted in your hotel room. Should the clouds roll in and put a damper on your plans, don’t be cranky about it; go explore the drier sights of Oahu!

Check Your Activity Policies

It’s worth noting that many outdoor activities on Oahu operate “rain or shine.” Zipline experiences, for instance, generally run in the rain, so long as it’s not considered dangerous weather. If you have something booked and don’t mind getting out there in the rain, check with the activity operator to see if they’re still running.

Ziplining in the rain, while soggy, is still an incredible experience.

Otherwise, just wait for the clouds to break and consider these other ideas.

Waikiki Aquarium

a sign on the side of a building

Not far from the shores of Waikiki, you’ll find the Waikiki Aquarium, open and ready to welcome everyone trying to duck in from the rain. If it wasn’t already on your list of things to do during your Oahu visit, then consider the rain your ticket to an unforgettable experience.

The aquarium offers a fascinating look at a series of different ecosystems, all present within the Pacific Ocean and brimming with vibrant aquatic life of all shapes and sizes. Get up close with the tropical fish that call Hawaii’s waters and the stunning living coral reef that lines the shores home. See parrotfish, frogfish, goatfish, scorpionfish, pufferfish, eels, surgeonfish, and an array of local sharks.

Waikiki Aquarium is like a trip through the Pacific without having to get wet. Its collection of invertebrates, reptiles, marine mammals, and fish, coupled with a look into the marine plant life that thrives just off the sandy beaches of Waikiki, makes this a complete journey into the deep blue.

Royal Hawaiian Center

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

Shopping is arguably one of the best things to do when the weather decides not to cooperate. At the Royal Hawaiian Center, you can satisfy your shopping bug while getting a taste of Hawaiian culture and customs.

This Oahu favorite is a shopping mall filled with an array of recognizable stores and local establishments, selling everything you could want, from souvenirs to clothes and jewelry. Of the more local items you’ll find there are ukuleles, panama hats, aloha shirts, picture frames, jewelry, and furniture and furnishings made from locally-sourced materials.

Once you’ve done your shopping, take advantage of the Royal Hawaiian Center’s cultural offerings. Every day (save for Sunday), complimentary cultural programming allows shoppers to immerse themselves in things like hula, lei making, Hawaiian quilting, and ukulele lessons. These free classes are a fantastic introduction to Hawaiian culture.

Bishop Museum

a screen shot of a television

There’s no better place to escape to during a rainy day than a museum, and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum is an eclectic mix of everything you want to learn about the Hawaiian Islands. From temporary exhibits that detail the first settlers of the islands to the prehistoric life that once ruled the world, the Bishop Museum is a vast collection of knowledge and relics that tell unique stories.

The Hawaiian Hall offers a complete look into the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Artifacts and relics from an earlier age tell the stories of the men and women who ruled the kingdom and put in place laws to keep order and preserve Hawaiian identity and traditions.

The Bishop Museum, established in 1889, is dedicated to Hawaiian history and culture, including the natural history that existed long before humans came to the island chain. Guests walk the timeline of the formation and habitation of the Hawaiian Islands by engaging themselves with the historical, natural, and cultural treasures that each tell their individual stories.

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace standing on American soil. Beyond that fascinating tidbit, it was once the building that housed the Kingdom of Hawaii’s royalty, and through years of restoration and preservation, it stands today as a museum dedicated to its rich past.

The palace was restored to its original form, including the furnishings, which were selected to match the opulence of royal taste. Explore the rooms that hosted events and were used frequently by the last two royal rulers of Hawaii, such as the Blue Room and Dining Room.

The palace collection includes tableware, military artifacts, furniture, documents, and historic photos that all come together to tell the story of how Hawaiian royalty lived.

Queen Emma Summer Palace

a palm tree in front of a house

Iolani Palace isn’t the only place on the island of Oahu that once housed royalty. Queen Emma Summer Palace in Nuuanu Valley was the private retreat for Queen Emma and her family, King Kamehameha IV and Prince Albert, their son. The palace was first used by Emma in 1857 when she wanted her own place to escape to in those moments when being a queen became too overwhelming. We know the feeling.

Like Iolani Palace, the summer palace has been restored to its original form and is now a museum showcasing decorations and possessions that once belonged to the royal family. The Greek Revival-style home was passed down through the generations before eventually being reopened as a tourist attraction and museum.

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