As any visitor to Kaua’i knows, the island’s predominant color is green. Another island characteristic is its second-tallest mountain, Wai’ale’ale. Because of where it’s situated on the island, the 5,080-foot tall mountain collects clouds and, hence, rain like I collect books. Almost daily.
Of course, the two go together. Rain + green.
Usually, and this is true of all the main Hawaiian Islands, when it’s raining on one side of the island, it isn’t raining on the other side, in the lee. And even if it is raining on your side of the island, it doesn’t usually rain for very long. Except for maybe last month. Because usually doesn’t mean always.
The local newspaper reported today an estimated $50 million in damages from heavy rains that deluged Kaua’i and O’ahu in mid-December. Last week, President George W. Bush even declared the two islands disaster areas.
Obviously, then, the rains hit all parts of the islands for extended periods of time. And, yet, when I was volunteering at Kilauea Point, we still had visitors. I even photographed a Seattle family of four in front of the lighthouse sans raincoats as the rains came down. They wore shorts and sundresses and radiant smiles. Their plan was to use the photograph for their holiday card. And, as they said, even though it was raining, the air temperature was warmer than their neck of the woods.
Honestly, I am not sure I would put the lighthouse on my list of things to do on a rainy day in Hawai’i, but I would recommend these:
1. Go to a museum. There are dozens of interesting museums around Hawai’i. There’s the Kaua’i Museum. On O’ahu, there’s Bishop Museum and The Contemporary Museum. On Big Island, there’s the Pacific Tsunami Museum and, of course, there’s plenty of stay-dry activities at Volcanoes National Park. Learn about Hawai’i’s sugar cane history at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum on Maui.
2. Visit an aquarium. Try the Waikiki Aquarium on O’ahu and the Maui Ocean Center on Maui.
3. Book an ATV tour. Actually, my favorite time to see Hawai’i on the back of an all-terrain vehicle is when it’s raining or soon thereafter, perhaps the only time when mud makes life more fun.
4. As long as it’s not lightening and there are no water advisories, sign up for a watersport lesson. Surfing. Stand-up paddling. Windsurfing. After all, you’re going to get wet anyway.
5. Go rainbow-chasing. Unless it’s raining gangbusters and driving is unsafe (it floods quickly and easily in Hawai’i), don’t be a hotel hermit. It takes rain to create rainbows. And rain turns some mountain creases into beautiful waterfalls. Too, clouds gracing a mountain can make for some dramatic scenic photos.
How about you? What have you discovered are some surprisingly fun adventures in Hawai’i when the weather isn’t exactly perfect? (Whatever perfect means.)