Posted on December 11, 2023

Indoor Activities on Oahu

by Suzanne G., December 11, 2023

Life in Hawaii revolves around the outdoors, so what do you do on rainy days? 

Although most Hawaiian trip itineraries are filled with outdoor activities, not every vacation will be filled with sunny days. But bad weather doesn’t necessarily have to mean a bad vacation. There are many fun and interesting indoor things to do on Oahu, besides just eating, drinking, and shopping. From exploring Hawaii’s unique cultural and natural heritage, to simply relaxing and spending quality time with your loved ones, there is no shortage of creative ways to spend your time. So, should you experience some rainy days during your Hawaiian vacation, here are some ideas to consider.  

The Best Indoor Activities on Oahu: 

  1. Art & History Museums
A WWII era bomber sits on display inside a hangar at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a great indoor activity for those rainy days on Oahu.
  • Bishop Museum: Hawaii’s premier natural and cultural history museum features the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian art and artifacts, a native Hawaiian garden, a planetarium, and the environmentally focused Science Adventure Center is filled with interactive exhibits. 
  • Honolulu Museum of Art: HoMA’s galleries include large collections of Asian art and the work of renowned artists such as Monet, VanGogh, and Warhol. Film screenings, lectures, and art classes are also routinely held at the museum. 
  • Hawaii State Art Museum: Although recently rebranded as the Capital Modern, the museum features a notably large collection of contemporary Hawaiian art.  
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum: Located on historic Ford Island, this is one of the few Pearl Harbor installations that are weatherproof. The museum is housed in two WWII-era hangars. Hangar 37 features aircraft and artifacts from the December 7, 1941 attack through the Battle of Midway, while Hangar 79 documents American military aviation from the end of WWII to today.   
  • US Army Museum: Located in the center of Waikiki, the museum features exhibits ranging from ancient Hawaiian warrior culture to today’s modern military practices. 
  • Street Art Tour (Drive by & self-guided): Downtown Honolulu is especially well known for its diverse collection of colorful murals and street art. Most are the result of the POW! WOW! Hawaii Festival, which draws artists from around the world to paint and refresh the murals. Meanwhile, other murals around town are the result of community projects or nonprofit collaborations.  
  1. Science Museums
A visit to the Waikiki is a great indoor activity on Oahu.
The Waikiki Aquarium, Waikiki Beach.
  • The J. Watumull Planetarium (at the Bishop Museum): They offer multiple stargazing programs throughout the day, in addition to occasional evening programs.  
  • Waikiki Aquarium: Although located in the midst of Waikiki’s hotel and shopping district, the aquarium features a living reef, a monk seal, and several other interesting marine life exhibits. 
  • Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center: This state-of-the-art children’s museum has five galleries with interactive exhibits designed to let children explore and learn about the world around them through play.   
  1. Historic Homes
Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.
Explore the only royal residence in the U.S., the ‘Iolani Palace, located in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • ‘Iolani Palace: Built in 1882 by King Kalakaua, Iolani Palace was the home of Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs until the overthrow of the monarchy. It is the only official royal residence in the United States and one of the most recognizable buildings in Hawaii. The palace and its original furnishings have been restored to their former grandeur and are now open for guided tours.
  • Queen Emma’s Summer Palace:  Explore the secluded summer retreat of Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV while learning more about the Hawaiian monarchy. 
  • Shangri La Mansion: The Museum of Islamic, Art, Culture, and Design was once the winter home of philanthropist and socialite Doris Duke. During her lifetime, she amassed an art collection of over 4,500 Islamic artworks, particularly ceramic, wood, glass, and textiles from the 17th century through the 1940s. One of Duke’s final wishes was that her home and art collection be opened to the public. It is also the only museum dedicated to Islamic art in the United States.   
Ukuleles on display, factory tours are another great indoor activity on Oahu.
Watch a master craftsman at work.
  1. Factory Tours: Farm and plantation tours are not much fun on rainy days, but fortunately, some similar experiences are available indoors. Some options are:  
  • Ukulele Makers: Several ukulele makers on Oahu offer tours of their facilities where craftsmen take you through the ukulele-making process, from raw wood to the finished masterpiece, 
  • Distilleries: Several distilleries on the island, including Ko’olau Distillery, Ko Hana Distillers, and Island Distillers, offer free tours and tastings at their facilities. 
  • Breweries: While small brew pubs are common on Oahu, several of the larger craft breweries also offer brewery tours. Hana Koa Brewing Company in Honolulu and Lanikai Brewing Company in Kailua are both good options. 
  1. Indoor Amusement: From ice skating to bowling and arcade games, there’s no shortage of traditional indoor amusement options to entertain you on a rainy day. Here are a few good options:
  • Ice Palace (ice skating) in the Stadium Mall
  • Lucky Strike Honolulu (bowling and arcade) at the Ala Moana Center
  • Jungle Fun (arcade/eatery) in the Ala Moana Center 
  • Dave & Buster’s (arcade/eatery) in the Ward Village
  • Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar in the Stay Hotel Waikiki              
  • Consolidated Movie Theater at the Ward Village
  1. Non-traditional Indoor Amusement Options 
A customer holds a kitten at the Hawaii Cat Cafe in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Enjoy a cup of coffee and a cuddle at the Hawaii Cat Cafe.

There’s also no shortage of trendy and creative forms of indoor amusement, from ax throwing to hanging out with the adoptable cats and kittens from the Hawaiian Humane Society. Here are just a few local businesses to consider: 

  • Blade & Timber (Ax Throwing) in Kakaako
  • Breakout Waikiki (Escape Room) in Waikiki Beach Walk Shopping Center
  • Odyssey VR (Virtual Reality Center) in the International Marketplace
  • Break ‘N Anger (Rage Room) in downtown Honolulu
  • Hawaii Cat Cafe in Waikiki
  1. Art Galleries: Although there are many art galleries in Waikiki, the three galleries listed below deserve special mention.
  • Clark Little Gallery in Haleiwa features prints and products decorated with the famous ocean photographer’s stunning photos. 
  • Peter Lik Gallery in the Waikiki Beach Walk Shopping Center features the artist’s fine art Hawaiian landscape photography.
  • Sunshine Arts offers the largest collection of local art in the state of Hawaii. They have two smaller shops located in Waikiki resorts, but the main gallery is in Kaneohe. 
  1. People Watch:
Tree growing inside the International Marketplace.
Check out the International Marketplace’s free cultural demonstrations and classes.

The best indoor places to shop, window shop, or people watch in the area are: 

  • Ala Moana Center
  • International Marketplace
  • Royal Hawaiian Center
  1. Classes & Cultural Demonstrations

In Waikiki, there is always an assortment of lectures, cultural demonstrations, and classes available regardless of the weather. Many are designed with tourists in mind, such as: 

  • Hawaiian Cooking Classes
  • Cultural classes and demonstrations held at local shopping centers
  • Yoga, Pilates, and other fitness classes that are drop-in-friendly 
  1. Spas

      Spas are undeniably a fantastic way to relax on a rainy day. Nearly every resort in Waikiki offers spa services, and there are also many stand-alone businesses in the area that offer spa services.  

  1.     Quiet Places & Places of Worship

    If you’re looking for a few moments of quiet or reflection you may want to consider visiting a local library, church, or temple, such as: 

  • Waikiki-Kapahulu Library in Waikiki Beach 
  • St. Augustine by the Sea, Catholic church in Waikiki Beach 
  • Hawaii Temple Visitors Center, LDS Temple in Laie 
  • Izumo Taishakyo Mission, Shinto shrine in downtown Honolulu
  1. Magic & Comedy Shows

     When strolling down Kalakaua Avenue after dinner is not an option, taking in a comedy or magic show is the next best thing. Here are a few options:

  • Magical Mystery Show at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel, an old-school magic show set in a Victorian-era parlor. Magic classes are also available. 
  • Magic Hawaii at the Hale Koa Resort is a contemporary magic show featuring sleight-of-hand, optical illusions, and interactive effects. 
  • Stand Up Honolulu, Aloha Ha Comedy Club, and Improv Hawaii are but a few options for comedy shows in the area. 
  1. Luaus & Dinner Shows

      While some luaus have a “rain plan,” spending the evening in a drab hotel ballroom or squeezed in under a tent is never quite as fun as the real thing. Fortunately, there is one luau-themed dinner show in Waikiki that is weatherproof.  

  • Rock-a-Hula & Luau buffet at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki is the only “luau” that wind and rain can’t ruin. The upscale luau buffet dinner is open-air but protected from the elements by a solid structure. You’ll enjoy hula dancing and Hawaiian music in comfort, while surrounded by tropical plants and a nice view of Waikiki from your fourth-story dining area. After dinner, enjoy the Rock-a-hula show, conveniently held in a large indoor auditorium nearby. This one-of-a-kind musical extravaganza is Hawaii’s biggest show, featuring local performers, tribute artists, and a Las Vegas-style stage production. And if that was not enough excitement, a thrilling fire-knife performance brings the show to a dramatic close. This is the only luau show on Oahu that never gets rained out!       

Click here for more information on the Rock-a-Hula show & Luau buffet!  

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