Kauai is the rainiest Hawaiian Island. So, you should not be surprised if you get a sprinkling of rain during your vacation in Kauai. However, if you visit Kauai in winter, you may see even more rain than in summer.
Unless there has been a severe weather warning and an advisory to avoid non-essential travel, you should still go out and explore. In this article, I provide suggestions for what to do in Kauai if it rains (indoors and outdoor).
Also, try not to feel too disheartened if it rains in Kauai – remember, a rainy day in Hawaii is better than a rainy day in the office!
I have visited Kauai in December and January, and I saw plenty of rain. But given I had travelled all the way from London, England – I was determined to make the most of my trip.
Here are 12 things to do in Kauai when it rains.
Kauai Rainy Season
When is it Most Likely to Rain in Kauai?
You will mostly see Kauai’s rain in winter, which runs from late September to early May. The remaining months of the year are thought to be “summer”.
Kauai sees the heaviest rain of the winter period between December and March.
However, even if you are travelling to Kauai in the rainy season, you are unlikely to see rain all day and every day. Generally, it rains overnight and clears up.
Otherwise, it may rain sporadically during the day and come out of nowhere. The rain is unpredictable.
There were many occasions when the rain came so quickly I did not have a chance to get the raincoat out of my bag. Hence, why it is important to dress in quick-dry clothing in Kauai.
Where Does it Rain the Most in Kauai?
Technically, the rainiest part of Kauai is Mt. Waialeale – it is one of the wettest places on earth. However, you will not be spending much time there.
Mount Waialeale is not easily accessible, and you will likely spend time at other locations around Kauai.
To answer the question – which side of Kauai is rainy? That would be the North Shore of Kauai, including Princeville and Hanalei.
Let us get started with some advice and suggestions of things to do in Kauai when it rains.
What to Do in Kauai When it Rains?
The chances that it will rain all day in Kauai are slim. However, sometimes you need some activities to fill up your morning or afternoon while it rains.
The benefit of spending 10 days in Kauai is that if rain cancels some of your activities, you can reschedule them for another day.
Seek Out the Sunshine
The weather around Kauai is different. While it is raining in the North, it may be sunny in the South, such as Poipu. So before giving in to the rain, find out if it is bad weather all over the island.
One of the first things you can do in Kauai when it is raining is to drive to a different part of the island. You could also check out some webcams to see what the weather looks like around Kauai.
Here are a few webcams to look at.
There are varying climates around the island, which may help you decide where to book accommodation on Kauai.
At times Kauai can see extreme weather, such as storm surges and flooding. You should take any weather warnings seriously.
Keep an eye out for these official warnings on the Kauai government website.
Read more about weather warnings in my article about what to expect during winter in Kauai.
Things to Do in Kauai When it Rains
Here are my top 12 things to do in Kauai in the rain.
- Drive around Kauai
- Souvenir Shopping
- Eat and Drink
- Indoor Activities
- Go for a Tasting
- River Cruise
- Relaxation at the Spa
- Rainy Day Hiking Trails
- Botanical Gardens
- Make a Lei or Haku
- Watch a Film about Kauai
1. Drive Around Kauai
Kauai is beautiful from all angles. I will never forget my first impressions of Kauai while driving from the airport to the north shore. There are incredible views from outside the car window.
One of the perfect rainy day activities in Kauai is to explore the island from the safety of your car and keep yourself dry while you are at it.
Did you know you can learn the history of Kauai while driving around the island? There are several apps where you can download and purchase a driving tour. These include Shaka, GyPSy, or Revealed Kauai Drive Guide.
The tours sync up to your GPS and help you navigate while explaining stories and information about Kauai. The guide will pause when you stop to get out of the car.
Examples of tours include stops at Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. Many places in Kauai are still worth seeing in the rain.
You can also buy tours on these apps for some of the other Hawaiian Islands (Maui and Oahu).
This is also a great way to see lots of the island if you only have 3 days to spend in Kauai because you can cover a lot of ground.
2. Souvenir Shopping
Even though shopping is something you can do at home, you will not find the same stores as Kauai. It is the perfect time to go souvenir shopping when it is raining in Kauai.
There are various places to look for souvenirs in Kauai. You could go to Old Koloa Town, The Shops at Kukuiula, Coconut Marketplace, or The ABC Store in Kapaa.
Shopping is one of the best rainy day activities in Kauai. It also means you can find the perfect gift and not be looking for something last-minute at the airport.
It is also one of the best Kauai indoor activities.
Best Kauai Gifts
Here are some ideas for souvenirs to bring back for yourself or friends and family.
- T-shirts: I loved the t-shirts in Hanalei Bread Co. and Lava Lava Beach Club.
- Coffee: you can purchase from Kauai Coffee Plantation and Hanalei Bread Co. The Kauai Coffee Company brand is available in most grocery stores.
- Macadamia nuts: available in supermarkets
- Monkeypod Jam: preserves made with local ingredients
- Kauai Rum: purchase from Koloa Rum
- Taro Chips: chips made from a local root vegetable
- Anahola Granola: local granola from the Anahola Valley in Kauai
- Kauai Kookie: try out the guava macadamia shortbread
- Red Dirt Shirt: you will recognise the colour of these shirts from the famous Kauai red mud. The original shop is in Eleele near the departure point of Na Pali Coast boat tours.
- Aloha Maid Drinks: I loved these drinks in Kauai. However, they likely will not travel well back with you. Therefore, try some for yourself for a taste of Hawaii.
- Artwork: There are plenty of places to buy art from in Kauai, such as art shops in Hanapepe. There are also great pieces in Beach House, so keep your eyes peeled everywhere you go.
3. Eat and Drink
One of the best things to do in Kauai when it rains is to eat. Read on for my suggestions of the best restaurants to eat at in Kauai when it rains.
Read this article for more details on the best places to eat and drink in Kauai throughout the year.
When it is raining in Kauai, you could check out some restaurants that do not require reservations and are indoor or covered.
Lava Lava Beach Club has an indoor space with open walls and a beach view. At lunch, you do not need a reservation.
Bubba Burgers and Porky’s Kauai are fast-food establishments, so you can show up to one of these at any time during their open hours. Both restaurants have indoor dining.
Even if it is raining in Kauai, keep your reservations for dinner as planned. Most restaurants have a covered roof but open sides, so you will not get wet. For example, Tidepools, AMA, and Eating House 1849.
If you have rented a holiday home for your time in Kauai, you could visit a fish market and cook the food at home. The benefit of vacation rentals in Kauai is that you can spend the afternoon cooking something local.
One rainy day in Kauai, we bought Monchong fish from The Dolphin Fish Market in Hanalei Bay and cooked it on the BBQ. We also used local papaya to make a salsa.
Even if there is rain on Kauai, it does not mean it is cold. So, buy some ice cream or shave ice for a refreshing treat.
You could try some local coffee at some of the best coffee shops in Kauai, such as Hanalei Bread Co, Olympic Café, and Aloha Roastery.
For another type of beverage, order the Pina Colada that is served in a pineapple at Duke’s and Keoki’s Paradise.
For drinks on the North Shore, try the happy hour at Tiki Iniki. It is a fun place to spend a rainy afternoon in Kauai.
Eating and drinking are some of the best things to do in Hanalei when it rains.
However, keep an eye on the tide on the North Shore because if the tide rises too much the bridge connecting Princeville and Hanalei could close. This would only happen if it has been raining an enormous amount for several days or nights at a time.
4. Indoor Activities Kauai
Learn more about Hawaiian culture and its history at some of its museums. Here are some of the best indoor activities in Kauai for rainy days.
- Kauai Museum: learn the story of Kauai (open Monday to Thursday)
- Kilohana Sugar Plantation & Grove Farm Museum: discover the history of the sugar plantation and ride the plantation railway (pre-book a tour on a Monday, Wednesday or Thursday)
- Waioli Mission House and Church: visit the residence of one of Kauai’s most influential families from the mid-1800s (first come, first served tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays)
Going for a tasting can be a great way to spend some time indoors while it is raining.
Here are some of the best spots on Kauai for a tasting.
- Rum tasting at Kilohana Plantation: Complimentary Rum tastings at Kōloa Rum Company Store – click here for tasting hours
- Coffee tasting at Kauai Coffee Company: enjoy a complimentary tasting and look around the museum/shop – use an umbrella for the walking tour.
- Jam tastings and cooking classes at Monkeypod Jam: tastings and classes available by reservation
6. River Cruise
Book tickets for the Wailua River Cruise to the Fern Grotto on a rainy day in Kauai.
The boats are covered, so you can enjoy a relaxing boat ride with live music on your way to the Fern Grotto.
7. Relaxation at the Spa
If you are on vacation in Kauai, chances are you will want some time to relax. Visit a spa on a rainy afternoon in Kauai.
You could try out the ANARA Spa at the Grand Hyatt Kauai and explore the hotel grounds at the same time.
Relaxation does not necessarily mean going to the spa. Maybe a peaceful afternoon for you is reading a book on the lanai.
One of the best outdoor rain activities in Kauai is a tour at Kipu Ranch.
You need to book this in advance. It is a good activity for this list of things to do in Kauai when it rains because the tours will go ahead no matter the weather.
Kipu Ranch has all-terrain and all-weather vehicles.
You can purchase a poncho at Kipu Ranch to protect your clothes from the mud. You will get extremely muddy, so make sure you can go and change before your next activity.
9. Rainy Day Hikes Kauai
Many hikes in Kauai should be missed on rainy days and for a few days after to allow the mud to settle. Particularly for the most popular hikes, such as Waimea Canyon and Sleeping Giant.
If you are still eager to stretch your legs on a rainy day, I suggest avoiding dirt routes because they will get extremely muddy.
So, what are the best hikes in Kauai when it has been raining?
I would suggest hiking the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path, which is a well-paved route along the Coconut Coast and is suitable for walking or biking.
Not necessarily a hike, but Princeville is a beautiful place to walk around in the rain. There is a paved route that goes from the Foodland shopping complex along the golf course to Pu Poa Beach.
Another option is the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, although it is best in light rain so the sandy path dries quickly. It is a coastal path that goes from the far side of the Grand Hyatt Kauai to the golf course. Park at Shipwreck Beach car park.
10. Botanical Gardens
Arrange a botanical garden tour to see McBryde & Allerton Gardens. You will be taken around by bus and then you can walk around the gardens with an umbrella.
Just make sure you wear your sensible walking boots to navigate the muddy paths.
11. Lei Making
Another of the best indoor things to do in Kauai when it rains is lei making. Places like Grand Hyatt Kauai and The Club at Kukuiula offer lei making classes. Otherwise, you could arrange a private lei/Haku class with Heavenly Hakus Kauai. (A Haku is a lei for the head.)
Haku classes require shade, so it always takes place on a covered deck or inside based on weather, so it makes for the perfect thing to do in Kauai when it rains.
Pre-covid, Heavenly Hakus offered public classes at the Kauai Museum.
You will also find Heavenly Hakus Kauai at the weekly Aloha Market, where it is possible to purchase or pre-order a Haku. Heavenly Hakus offers demonstrations of the art of lei-making under the covered tent.
To book a class, send a message on Heavenly Hakus Kauai’s Facebook page or email Heavenlyhakus@aol.com.
12. Watch a Kauai Film
Even though this is something you could do anywhere, it is much more relevant to watch a film made in Kauai while you are there. It is fun because you will recognise scenes and locations easily.
What movies were made or set in Kauai?
- Jurassic Park
- Indiana Jones
- The Descendants
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Lilo & Stitch
Advice For When it is Raining in Kauai
- Remember – it may not be raining all over the island. Drive south because there are fewer things to do in Princeville Kauai when it rains.
- If you decide to stay home, be ready to go at short notice to make the most of the better weather.
- When you go out for the day, bring clothes for all weather – it could turn sunny and then rainy again.
- Book a hotel that offers activities for a portion of your trip in winter. Even if the day is a wash-out, there will still be plenty of things to do when it rains. For example, at one of the best Kauai hotels, Grand Hyatt Resort and Spa, there is a gym, children’s activities, indoor flower gardens, and lei making.
What Not to Do When it Rains in Kauai
- I suggest you avoid visiting waterfalls if it has been raining a lot for the last few days. The waterfalls can turn brown and do not look as good as normal.
- Do not swim in the sea or Wailua river after heavy rain. There are increased levels of bacteria in the water, plus there are more chances of a shark attack in murky water.
- Be careful going to Hanalei if there is torrential rain because the river can flood and cause the Hanalei Bridge to close.
Things to Pack For When it Rains in Kauai
Here are some essential items to bring with you to Kauai.
- Light raincoat – I recommend North Face jackets
- Walking boots with grip – Merrell is an excellent brand
- Quick-dry clothes – I recommend Lululemon clothing for men and women
- Sensible evening shoes to wear to dinner
- I learnt the hard way that flip flops are no good in the rain because they flick mud up the back of your legs. Plus, the streets may have many puddles, so do not bring your suede sandals either.
FAQs on the Kauai Rainy Season
What to do on a cloudy day in Kauai?
Many of Kauai’s main attractions and locations are stunning even on a cloudy day.
I visited Kipu Ranch for a ride around their property on ATVs, and the setting looked incredible with the mysterious clouds in the sky.
What are some Kauai rainy day activities?
Self-drive tour around Kauai, souvenir shopping, dine at some of the best bars and restaurants, museums, rum or coffee tastings, Wailua river cruise, spa treatment, ATVs, paved hiking routes, botanical gardens, Lei or Haku-making, watch a film about Kauai.
What to do when it rains in Kauai?
Seek sunshine – it may not be raining all over the island.
Stay safe – listen to all warnings and emergency alerts.
Pack wisely – bring a day bag full of clothes and accessories for all weather – it can change quickly.
Does it rain everyday on Kauai?
Yes, it can rain on Kauai everyday. However, it may rain very lightly for only a few moments. Go about your plans as usual, unless there are severe weather warnings.
What part of Kauai gets the most rain?
Technically Mount Waialeale is the wettest part of Kauai; however, this location is largely inaccessible.
The North Shore of Kauai is wetter than other sides of Kauai.
Do I need a rain jacket in Kauai?
Yes! You should bring a light raincoat that you can easily fold up in your bag.
If you get caught in a heavy downpour in Kauai, it can soak through you pretty quickly. So, it is good to have a rain jacket to hand.
You could also wear athletic clothing that will dry fast.
Is Princeville on the rainy side of Kauai?
Yes. Princeville is located in the north of Kauai, which gets more rain than any other side of the island.
For more Kauai travel tips, check out the following articles: