Things to Do in Kauai When it Rains
Sun-kissed and tropical, the island of Kauai is a hotspot for adventures. With rugged landscapes and unspoiled natural wonders, no other island in Hawaii is more suited for outdoor escapades than the Garden Isle. But what to do in Kauai when it rains?
Despite the tropical scenery and climate, Kauai is known as one of the wettest places in Hawaii. But you don’t need to let downpours ruin your vacation. Here is a list of exciting rainy day activities in Kauai to keep you occupied when the weather takes a turn.
When is Rainy Season in Kauai?
Kauai enjoys a tropical climate marked by warm temperatures and an abundance of rain. The island has only two seasons: dry from April to October and wet or rainy from November to March, with December and January experiencing the most rainfall.
Even during the dry season, it can still rain anywhere on the island. With an average annual rainfall of 41.2 inches, Kauai bags the title the rainiest place in Hawaii. It is also home to one of the planet’s wettest spots, Mount Wai’ale’ale.
If you worry the rain in Kauai will ruin your holiday, don’t. It seldom pours for more than three days straight, and tropical storms are rare.
The Kauai rainy season typically consists of gray, overcast days with spurts of brief showers. The west and south shores are usually drier and hotter than the east and north, so, if you want generally bright and balmy weather that’s perfect for suntanning, go west or south. But if you’re seeking a mild and cool climate that offers verdant scenery, head west or north.
Your best bet for a rainless and sunny vacation is Waimea or Kekaha on the far west of the island and Poipu or Lawai on the south. Locations such as Kapaa on the east coast and Hanalei, Kilauea and Princeville on the north are generally wetter than the rest of the island, but they also have some of the lushest attractions.
The Best Things to Do in Kauai When it Rains
Learn Something New at the Kauai Museum
Learning about local culture and history is one of the most meaningful experiences you can enjoy on a trip to Kauai. Start your discovery at the Kauai Museum, located in the capital city of Lihue.
Inside the museum, you will find a fascinating collection of cultural artifacts and works by local artists. The exhibits cover Kauai’s geological formation and volcanic origins, the old way of life of native Hawaiians, the arrival of Captain Cook on the island, and the Hawaiian monarchy.
You can explore the exhibits on your own or join a guided tour, which is available by request. If the rain has subsided by the time you leave the museum, experience a classic luau to see the traditions you discovered come to life.
Relax at an Island Spa
Do you know the saying about rainy days getting people down? That does not have to be the case on your vacation in Kauai.
Rain in Kauai is the perfect excuse to pamper yourself with a spa treatment. The island has several excellent spas that offer wellness and rejuvenation services with a distinctly Hawaiian twist.
Imagine the comforting warmth of heated pōhaku stones on your sore muscles or the relaxing and rhythmic thumps of the ancient Lomilomi massage. Enjoy the organic facial, volcanic rock foot scrubs, flora-infused baths, body wraps and saunas amidst a breathtaking tropical scenery that is in itself quite healing.
Even better, if you're staying in one of Pure Kauai's properties, we recommend that you contact your concierge who can arrange exclusive spa services in your holiday home, meaning you don't even have to risk the rain by leaving your house to travel to a spa.
Go on a Tour at the Kauai Coffee Company Estate
There’s nothing like a cup of steaming coffee to warm you up on a rainy day in Kauai. Upon your arrival at the Kauai Coffee Estate, you will receive a sample of this aromatic beverage, which is the perfect way to feel rejuvenated when the weather is dreary.
Established in the early 1800s, the Kauai Coffee Company started as a sugar plantation. Now, it is the largest coffee farm in the United States, growing five bean varieties that are 100% Hawaiian.
Once the rain lets up, go on a self-guided tour of the coffee orchard, where you can learn about harvesting and witness the roasting of the beans. The best part of the tour is sampling the locally grown Hawaiian coffees, including the smooth and fruity Kauai Blue Mountain and the intense and chocolatey Peaberry.
The Kauai Coffee Company lies just outside Lihue in the southwest part of the island. It is 30 minutes away from the town of Lihue.
Visit Grove Farm Museum
One of the best things to do in Kauai when it rains is to revisit the places that shaped the island. The Grove Farm Homestead Museum is one such location that contributed to Kauai’s cultural heritage.
For over 150 years, sugar was the top agricultural product of Hawaii. Beautifully preserved, Grove Farm affords you a glimpse of an authentic 19th-century sugar plantation.
A tour of this 100-acre homestead takes you to the owner’s cottage, the guest lodge, the plantation office, the main house, and the workers’ residential camp. The estate lies in a beautiful patch of well-manicured lawns, tropical gardens, verdant pastures and banana groves. Interestingly, the present household still keeps the same practices and agricultural schedules from the 1800s.
The museum is on Route 58, southeast of Lihue. A tour is available by appointment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 am and 1 pm.
Take a Trip to the Kilohana Plantation
When it rains and traveling around the island becomes a challenge, you want to be somewhere you can access amenities and luxuries in one place. The historic Kilohana Plantation is not just a museum; it has everything you could wish for including a restaurant, specialty shops, a wellness spa, a 1930s Tudor mansion, dense tropical gardens, scenic hiking paths, a working animal farm, an old plantation village and a railway station with a working steam train.
Located in western Lihue, Kilohana used to be a 27,000-acre sugar plantation that dates back to 1896. Presently, it hosts tours, gatherings, and cultural shows. Stay after sundown to enjoy an evening feast and the famous Luau Kalamaku, complete with live music, hula performers and fire dancers.
Enjoy a Wailua River Cruise
What to do in Kauai when it is raining apart from visiting indoor attractions? A cruise on the Wailua River is a terrific way to explore the outdoors without getting soaked by the downpour, as all of the boats come with shelters that keep you dry while taking you around the island’s landscape.
Fed by the waters coming from Mount Waialeale, Wailua is Hawaii’s only navigable river. During the two-mile cruise, you will hear fascinating stories of old Hawaii and get the chance to see a range of island scenery.
The main attraction of the trip is the Fern Grotto. The grotto is a natural lava-rock cavern partially blanketed by dangling ferns, exotic plants and verdant foliage. A small cascade tumbles down over the rocky overhang of the cave, creating a mist.
If it hasn’t rained for some time, the waterfall dwindles into a trickle or completely dries up. But because you are visiting on a rainy day, you will surely see the cascade in its full force.
Spend the Afternoon in the Waioli Mission House and Church
Built in 1837, the Waioli Mission House and Church is one of the most prominent historical landmarks in Hanalei. The two-story Mission House was home to Kauai’s first missionaries and is now a museum.
Inside the house, you will find artifacts from back in the day, such as braided rugs, a spinning wheel, a perfectly working wall clock set up in 1866 and the original Bibles the missionaries used to teach the natives. The previous owners incorporated Hawaiian elements into the house, including the koa wood furniture, the lava rock chimney, and the ohia floorboards.
The Waioli Huiia Church is one of the oldest surviving religious structures on the island. A classic example of American Gothic architecture, the church features a forest-green wooden exterior with stained glass windows, a steep roof and a belfry patterned after the mountains in the background.
Both the house and church are on the National Register of Historic Places. There are guided tours scheduled every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
Watch a Movie in Waimea Theater
Rain in Kauai tends to be brief. While waiting out the downpour, why not catch a movie at the historic Waimea Theater?
First opened in September of 1938, the theater is one of the only two cinemas in Kauai. It boasted a decorative marquee lit by electric blue lights, something never seen before on the island. In 1992, the theater temporarily shut down after Hurricane Iniki destroyed most of the building. The County of Kauai purchased it in 1996 and started a restoration funded by the government, and the landmark theater reopened in August 1999.
The refurbished Waimea Theater can accommodate 270 people and features a sophisticated sound system and a massive movie screen. The theater also accepts bookings for meetings, private screenings, parties and other events.
Sample Local Restaurants
Rainy days have a way of making people crave comfort food. Fortunately, in Kauai, you will never run out of good options to eat.
Try the traditional dishes of poke, raw tuna or octopus cut in cubes and seasoned to perfection; lomilomi, smoked salmon served with tomatoes and onions; and poi, mashed taro root that’s eaten on its own or mixed with desserts. Then, there’s the local favorite loco moco; a juicy hamburger patty served over a bed of rice and topped with egg and gravy.
Perfect for a chilly rainy day is saimin, a noodle soup consisting of fishcakes, pork, onions, boiled egg, and spam. Enjoy the famous spam musubi, the Hawaiian take on sushi, made of pieces of fried spam sandwiched between white rice and wrapped in seaweed.
If you attend a luau, sample the celebrated kalua pig, a savory dish slow-cooked in an earthen oven. Of course, you can’t skip malasada, deep-fried dough balls stuffed with different kinds of fillings and rolled in sugar.
Some of the best restaurants in town are Beach House Restaurant in Poipu, the Tidepools at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort & Spa, and Bar Acuda in Hanalei. Check out Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs, the Shrimp Station and Da Crack Mexican Grinds for fantastic cheap eats.
Retail therapy comes in handy when it’s too wet to explore the outdoors. In Kauai, you’ll be amazed at the wide range of local handicrafts, unique artworks, beautiful fabrics, handmade jewelry, delicious delicacies and fresh produce.
One of the best shopping centers in Kauai is the Shops at Kukui‘ula; a multipurpose venue that pays tribute to the island’s plantation past with its architecture and unique layout. For a family-friendly shopping experience, go to the Coconut Marketplace in Kapaa for its hula shows, live music and monthly movie nights. Check out Kukui Grove in Lihue, with its hosts of boutiques, eateries and events, or head to Poipu Shopping Village, a chain of stores and restaurants in a garden setting.
Relax in Your Accommodation
Sometimes sitting on the lanai and watching the falling rain while sipping local Kauai coffee or coconut rum is all you need to relax on your vacation. Staying in doesn’t make your holiday boring; it allows you to rest and reconnect with yourself.
Still, you don’t have to stay holed up in your room all day just because it’s raining. Most resorts and some lodgings offer cooking lessons or group activities for their guests. You can also learn to play the ukulele, dance the hula or make leis.
Check out the bar or café and see what’s brewing. If your place has a pool, splash around in the water. You’re already wet anyway!
Visit Another Part of the Island
Finally, remember that the rain in Kauai tends to be very localized. If the rain in your area has not let up after a few days, head to another place. Chances are, it’s dry and sunny a few miles from where you are!
Rain or shine, Kauai remains one of the best destinations in Hawaii. There are loads of exciting activities you can do even when it is raining, whether you are looking for thrilling outdoor adventures or a relaxing tropical island escape.
If you’re planning a trip to Kauai and are looking for luxury holiday accommodation, Pure Kauai offers a wide range of outstanding properties. Get in touch with our team to find out more and start planning your dream vacation.