Let the rain sing you a lullaby. – Langston Hughes
You have been anticipating your trip to Kauai with the family for months. You’ve booked your ocean-view villa, dropped your beloved bulldog at the puppy palace, and kissed the mainland goodbye. You arrive to blazing blue skies, soft tradewinds and the happy coo of the local zebra doves, but by the time you and your crew have checked into the resort, unpacked your swimsuits and are ready to race down to the pool . . . it’s POURING.
You all look at each other. What now?
The answer? LOTS! Yes, Kauai may be the wettest of the Hawaiian islands, but this will hardly keep you from enjoying every moment. The rain is what gives Kauai those velvety green mountains and dazzling tropical foliage, why the waterfalls are so spectacular and why Kauai has the only navigable river in Hawaii. And whoever heard of too many rainbows? The island’s charms are vast and activities bountiful, so there are still plenty of things to do in Kauai when it rains — even in a drizzle.
Our top-ten list of things to do in Kauai when it rains:
1. Summon patience and wait for the skies to clear
This may seem obvious but it’s worth mentioning. Tropical showers can be light and are usually blissfully brief — especially on the South Shore. It’s entirely possible that by the time you slather on sunscreen, get down the stairs, procure a couple mai tais at the bar and arrive poolside, the clouds will have given way to blue again.
2. Hop in the car and drive 20 minutes.
No matter where your starting point may be, pretty much every road on Kauai leads somewhere worth exploring and the drive itself is always a pleasure. With the island prone to microclimates, chances are it is not raining at your new destination.
3. Go Ziplining!
The Koloa Zipline runs right through a massive rainforest and you will be soaked to the skin by the time you’re done anyhow! Koloa Zipline has the longest lines on the island and offers various zip positions (soar like a superhero, anyone?) making this a bucket list adventure for the whole family.
4. Take a self-guided tour of island flavors.
Share a life-altering poke platter created by the Godfather of Poke himself, celebrity chef Sam Choy. Wander into little mom-and-pop cafes to devour steaming bowls of brothy saimin noodles or plates of rich gravy-smothered Loco Moco — or head to the fish market for the singular joys of chilled lomi salmon (sort of the Hawaiian love child of sashimi and pico de gallo). Partake of Sugarloaf white pineapple, mango, and locally grown coffee. How about a Hawaiian hot dog
slathered in lilikoi mustard and topped with coconut relish? And what’s an opihi, you ask? It’s a guava shortbread morsel with caramel and macadamia nut covered in chocolate. Aloha!
5. Wander through a museum.
Kauai museums are charming and will acquaint you with the juicy historical details, characters, and artifacts that make the Garden Isle unique. Who knew Kauai was home to Hawaii’s first-ever sugar plantation? And who knew John Wayne learned to dance the hula here? Check out the Old Koloa Town Historical Center, Grove Farm Homestead & Sugar Plantation, Kauai Museum and Koke’e Natural History Museum. These explorations will deepen your connection to one of the most wondrous places on earth.
6. Escape the rain with an escape!
The “Kauai Escape Room” recently opened in Lihue to rave reviews and is fun for couples or groups of all sizes — especially for families with teenagers. Whether you’re an escape room pro or a newbie to this brand of indoor adventure, you will be challenged by the inventive clues and twists found in rooms called “The Curse of the Tiki Lounge” or “The Missing Scientist.” Can you unravel the island-inspired puzzles and escape? Only about half are successful!
7. Indulge. . . .
If the rains left you hiking in mud, relax now with a mud wrap in one of Kauai’s countless day spas. The zen-like Spa at Koloa Landing offers a treatment called “Mauka to Makai” (from the mountains to the sea) featuring minerals, seaweed and bentonite clay to detoxify. Soothe away all the stress of missing your afternoon of surfing due to the downpour. (The island life is so rough, yes?)
8. Learn a new native skill.
Hotels know their guests will wonder what are some things to do on Kauai when it rains so they often offer locally inspired classes for fun-loving folks. Learn from the locals how to string a honey-scented plumeria lei, play “Tiny Bubbles” on the ukulele, or dance the hula with your entire family (yes, even your Uncle George).
9. Hit the gym.
If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, chances are there’s a world-class gym providing an opportunity to work off last night’s lobster feast and lilikoi pie. Get your sweat on and maybe even enjoy a yoga class, pilates or a lomilomi massage.
10. Enjoy some indoor togetherness
You’re probably in Kauai with people you love. Why not turn a rainy day into a rare opportunity to cozy up together? Brew a pot of Kauai dark roast and play Scrabble, or read together next to the window while droplets patter the palm fronds. Or put some Beach Boys on the bluetooth and play island-inspired charades. Watch a Kauai-filmed movie like “South Pacific,” “Jurassic Park,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “The Descendants.” You’ll probably now recognize some of the locations!
If you’re wondering what things to do in Kauai when it rains, you could also simply do whatever it is you were going to do if it was NOT raining! Don’t skip going to the pool — hit the jacuzzi instead. Just ask the bartender to make your mai tai a little extra strong to compensate for the raindrops watering it down. Oh, the compromises we must make in paradise. . .
Ready for your unforgettable stay on Kauai? Book now at Koloa Landing. We’d love to help you enjoy everything the Garden Isle has to offer.
Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort