Are you looking for the best things to do on Kauai when it rains? This guide from a Hawaii local gives you all of the best recommendations for when the sun isn’t out.
With dozens of rainy days each year, it’s a good idea to think about the best things to do on Kauai when it rains, because, odds are, your vacation to the island will have at least one or two. But when most people think of Kauai, they think of activities like hikes and beaches – neither of which are fantastic in the rain. Little do they know that there are tons of fantastic things to do on Kauai when it rains.
When Does It Rain on Kauai?
As with the rest of the Hawaiian Islands, there are two main seasons on Kauai: the dry season and the rainy season. The dry season typically runs from April to October, while the rainy season is from November to March. While you can definitely get sunny days during the rainy season, be prepared for more rain that you would get during the hotter months.
Where Does It Rain on Kauai?
There are areas of Kauai that are typically more wet than others. The center of the island with Mount Waialeale is by far, the wettest part of the island. And while the east side tends to be pretty wet, the west side tends to be the driest.
Why Does It Rain on Kauai?
While many parts of Hawaii rain a lot naturally, Kauai is particularly wet because it’s home to Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on the entire planet. Mount Waialeale gets an average of 450 inches of rain per year! And while this one mountain doesn’t cover the entire island, you can be sure that some of that rain still makes it to the other parts of Kauai.
What Do I Need When It Rains on Kauai?
While you can just go out and embrace the rain, it’s best to have some rain-proof gear, so you don’t get absolutely drenched when you’re out and about.
A rain jacket would be my first pick for avoiding the rain on Kauai. You can still tackle many adventures and have your hands free with a rain jacket. And since there are many water-resistant jackets on the market, be sure to get one with a hood!
Some people prefer umbrellas rather than rain jackets. Just know that, if it happens to be a windy day (the Hawaiian Islands have consistent winds known as “trade winds”), it might not hold up.
Even when it’s raining Kauai is BEAUTIFUL. As a matter of fact, there are times when the rain makes the island even more stunning, like when it creates temporary waterfalls in the crevices in the mountains. You definitely should find a way to capture those moments, and a waterproof camera is the way to do it.
11 Best Things to Do on Kauai When It Rains
Whether you choose to stay dry or embrace the rain, there are loads of incredible things to do on Kauai on rainy days.
Head for the West Side of the Island
Before you start sifting through this list of the best things to do on Kauai when it rains, check if it’s actually raining all day on the entire island (and all day – sometimes the rain will pass quickly). Odds are, the west side of Kauai is still nice and sunny! To be sure, check the weather in Waimea and Kekaha.
On the other hand, if it happens to be rainy, there are still a few cool things that you can see on the west side of the island, like the under-the-radar red dirt waterfall. Because Waimea is pretty dry, the red dirt waterfall isn’t consistent. So if you happen to head to Waimea on a rainy day, you’ll definitely be able to catch a glimpse of that red dirt waterfall.
Watch the Waves
When the rain comes, often so do the waves. For the biggest waves, head to the North Shore of Kauai. But don’t head in the water! Those waves are extremely powerful, even if they might not seem like it. Simply sit on the shoreline (or perhaps in your car to avoid the rain) and watch them crash onto the sand.
Make A Haku Lei at the Kauai Museum
One of the best things to do on Kauai in general — rain or shine, is visit the Kauai Museum for a haku lei making class. It’s a great way to get crafty while learning about Hawaiian culture — and staying dry — all at the same time.
Haku leis, also known as hakus, are, simply put, Hawaiian flower crowns with a bit of significance. Just like the more well-known leis worn around the neck, hakus were used in native Hawaiian culture to indicate sacredness, status, and peace.
On the second Friday of each month, you can learn to make your own haku lei at the Kauai Museum from a local expert. This is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the local culture and develop an amazing new skill. Do know that this three-hour class costs $50 per person.
*Pro tip: many Kauai hotels offer similar classes included with your stay or at a lower cost. Check your hotel activity guide for other lei or haku making classes.
Experience a Bit of Kauai on Your Screen
There are dozens – if not hundreds – of movies and TV shows that have been filmed on Kauai. One of the best things to do on Kauai when it rains is stay in, enjoy the cozy weather, and watch one of these movies or TV shows. That way, you’ll be able to experience a bit of Kauai on your screen.
When the weather lets up, you can go explore those incredible film sites in person. Pretty cool, right?
Do a Little Shopping
Even though pretty much all of the shopping on Kauai is open air, you can still pop into the shops whenever the rain starts pouring down, making it a great thing to do on Kauai when it rains. The Old Koloa Town, Kukui Grove Center, Poipu Shopping Village, and The Shops at Kukuiula are a few of visitor shopping favorites.
*Note: Just to be clear, all of these shopping areas are still outdoor shopping malls. So while you’ll be safe from the rain inside the stores, there’s a good chance that you’ll get wet as you hop from shop to shop.
Embrace the Rain and Check Out the Waterfalls
Many times, when it rains, people run for cover. But there is an alternative: embrace the rain! One of the best things to do on Kauai when it rains is to check out the waterfalls. After all, with the added water, the cascade will soak up all the water and become even bigger!
There are genuinely too many Kauai waterfalls to count. A few suggestions of the most popular cascades include Wailua Falls, Opeakaa Falls, and the first waterfall on the Hoopii Falls hike, and they’re all definitely worth a visit.
Do note that when it’s raining, hiking trails can get extra muddy and slippery. In other words, be sure to avoid the difficult waterfall hikes on Kauai when it’s raining.
Wander Around Talk Story Bookstore
Talk Story Bookstore is a Kauai gem. Bookstores across the globe are dwindling, yet Talk Story Bookstore has managed to proudly stand on the streets of Hanapepe for over 15 years.
More than that, Talk Story Bookstore highlights Hawaiian and local writers in particular, making it the only one of its kind. If you’re lucky, on Friday nights you may be able to meet one of your favorite local writers at this amazing little bookstore.
Want to read up before your Hawaii vacation? Here are some of my favorite books about Hawaii!
Enjoy a Rum Tasting
Situated in Lihue, the Koloa Rum Company Store & Tasting Room offers visitors a chance to taste and purchase some award-winning, locally produced rum. The rum from Koloa Rum is made using the pure rainwater from Mount Waialeale and locally grown Hawaiian sugar cane. To put it simply, this drink tastes unlike anything else in the world.
The scheduled tastings run every half an hour, so, while the tasting groups may be small, you’ll only have to wait another thirty minutes to have your chance to try some of the Hawaiian Islands’ best alcohol. And if you find that you want to take a bottle or two home, you can do that as well!
Sample Island-Inspired Caramels
Just across the way from the Koloa Rum Company Store & Tasting Room, you’ll find the Native Hawaiian-owned Kauai Sweet Shoppe. This delicious Hawaii dessert spot whips up some of the coolest caramels around, including pineapple caramel, li hing mui caramel, guava caramel, and toasted coconut caramel, just to start. (They’re literally all fantastic.) Pay a visit, sample the many flavors, and watch them in action as they make these delicious treats!
Or Perhaps a Coffee Tasting
Other than pineapples, coffee may be Hawaii’s most famous export. Visitors from across the globe want to learn about Hawaii’s coffee-making process, and Kauai Coffee is the perfect place to do that.
While the path that gives you the most information about the coffee-making process is outside (which isn’t great for a rainy day), there is a covered area with dozens of coffee samples and a video explaining how they create this delicious Hawaii product.
Check Out the Art Galleries
Kauai has so many aspiring artists, and, because they want to showcase their artwork, Kauai is also filled with art galleries! While there are art galleries all over the island that you’re bound to come across, consider stopping by the Halelea Gallery in Koloa, the Hanalei Art Gallery in Hanalei, and Havaiki Oceanic and Tribal Art in Hanalei. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new Kauai-inspired art piece to take home with you!
Watch Artists at Work at Banana Patch Studio
Located in the sleepy little town of Hanapepe, there are over 20 different artists that create the tiles, pottery, and fine art found in the studio. Odds are, you’ll be able to see artists creating latest masterpieces in the studio when you drop by! As expected, you can also purchase these art pieces and take them home with you.
Do you have any other suggestions of what to do when it rains on Kauai? Let me know in the comments!
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