What to do on Maui when it's raining

July 23rd, 2016

Rain, rain, go away, come again when I’m not on vacation!  Welcome to the tropics!  Tropical islands get rain.  Mostly in brief, passing showers but occasionally in a deluge.  When the latter occurs, make the most of the situation and explore the many unexpected treasures that Maui has to offer off the beach and off the beaten path.



Maui has a multitude of microclimates, so often one area of the island will be experiencing a downpour, but just a few miles away it can be beautiful and sunny.  Lahaina, Kihei and Wailea are typically drier desert areas while Hana, the North Shore, Upcountry, Kapalua and beyond receive far more rain.  Pu’u Kukui in the heart of the West Maui mountains and Big Bog on the slopes of Haleakala are two of the wettest places on earth!  If you want to escape the rain, check the weather radar and head to fairer climes.   That said, occasionally the whole island will be blanketed by rain, so in that case explore one or more of the suggested activities below.



The Hawaiian Aquarium has over 60 indoor-outdoor exhibits and touch pools featuring the natural ecosystem of Hawaii with sharks, turtles, rays, jellies, tropical fish, and the largest collection of live Pacific corals.  The highlight is the 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit with a 54-foot long walk-through tunnel that gives you a mesmerizing 240-degree view of the inhabitants including giant ocean sunfish, stingrays and hammerhead sharks.  Bonus: Shuttle service to and from select South or West Maui locations is only $5 extra with admission.  Ma’alaea Harbor Shops. Daily 9am to 5pm.  Adults $25.95; kids 3-12 $18.95; 2 and under free




Whalers Village Museum – Located in the shopping mall bearing the same name which features a 40-foot sperm whale skeleton, this museum captures the heyday of whaling in Lahaina.  The exhibits, artifacts and self-guided audio tour provide a glimpse into the dangerous life of whalers.   Highlights include a scale model of a whaling ship, a replica of the cramped living quarters endured by sailors for up to five years at a time, and one of the largest scrimshaw collections (drawings on whale teeth).  Four free movies are played throughout the day. 

Open daily 10am to 4pm.  Adults $3, kids $1 (6 and under free).  http://www.whalersvillage.com/museum.htm

Baldwin Home Museum

The oldest house still standing on Maui, the Baldwin home in Lahaina was originally built as a four room single-level structure in 1834-1835 and with additions in the 1840’s that created the two-story house you see today.  The thick walls are constructed of coral, sand and lava rock to keep the interior cool and once hosted everyone from weary sea captains and Hawaiian royalty.

Open daily 10am to 4pm (Fridays until 8:30pm) Admission $7; children 12 and under free  http://lahainarestoration.org/baldwin-home-museum/

Bailey House Museum – Situated at the mouth of the Iao Valley in Wailuku, the stone house was built in 1833 and was one of the first western style houses in Wailuku.  Originally a mission, it now houses pre-European contact artifacts, the only wooden statue on Maui to survive the purge of indigenous religious expression, over 100 landscape oil paintings by Edward Bailey, and Duke Kahanamoku’s redwood surfboard. The second floor offers a display of Hawaiian furnishings in the early 19th century while the grounds showcases native Hawaiian plants.

Open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm.  Adults $7; kids $2.  http://www.mauimuseum.org/content/5038811de843c/Hours_and_Directions.html

Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum

If you’ve driven from the airport to South Maui you’ve passed this small museum located in the former plantation town of Pu’unene next to the last working sugar mill in Hawaii which will be closing at the end of 2016 (look for the tall smoke stacks).   The museum celebrates one of the industries that shaped Maui into the culturally diverse island that it is today.  Six exhibit rooms show how geography, weather and water affect the crop, document field workers and life in plantation camps, and demonstrate how sugar is made. Outdoor exhibits showcase the massive equipment used to harvest and process the cane.

Open daily 9:30am to 4:30pm.  Adults $5, kids $2 (under 5 free).  http://www.sugarmuseum.com

Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center & Gallery

Situated on the historic 25-acre estate of Kaluanui near Makawao, the Hui was built in 1917 for Harry & Ethel Baldwin (yes, those Baldwins again).  A gathering place for some of the most artistic Maui minds since 1934, the Hui utilizes the various structures on the property – houses, stable, carriage house, garage – as working artist studios, exhibition galleries, classrooms, and a unique gallery shop featuring handcrafted items.  Up to eight rotating exhibits each year. 

Open Mon-Sat 10am-4pm  http://huinoeau.com


Get that souvenir shopping taken care of or pick up some mementos for yourself.  Major malls are The Shops at Wailea (Wailea), Whaler’s Village (Ka’anapali), the Outlets of Maui (Lahaina), and Queen Kaahumanu Center (Kahului).  Brave the rain and cruise the street fronts of Lahaina, Pa’ia, and Makawao that are packed with shops, galleries and restaurants offering a pleasant diversion for hours on end.  The Pride of Maui also has a great list of places to pick up those souvenirs. 




Catch up on the latest releases at one of three theatres on Maui: Kaahumanu 6 (Kahului), Regal Maui Mall Megaplex 12 (Kahului), and Regal Wharf Cinema Center 3 (Lahaina).



Rejuvenate your skin and your soul with treatment at one of the many spas across the island.  Indulge in a couple’s massage, coconut and honey wrap, tropical body butters, or black lava rock scrub.  Be sure to try a lomi lomi massage, an ancient Hawaiian healing art incorporating rhythmic movements and long forearm strokes that soothe from light to deep to realign the body, improve circulation and induce overall well-being.  All of the major resorts have spas, but the queen of them all is the 50,000 square foot Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea with their famous Terme hydrotherapy circuit. https://www.grandwailea.com/experience/spa/

If you’re looking for an authentic Hawaiian spa experience, seek out the Ho'omana Spa Maui, Maui’s top rated spa on TripAdvisor.  This modern spa brings Hawaiian healing in a serene setting surrounded by greenery in Upcountry Maui. http://www.hoomanaspamaui.com  For a five star experience without the resort price tag consider Zensations, located in a strip mall in Honokowai.  http://www.zensationsspa.com



Ulalena - A rich cultural journey through the history of Maui in a powerful theatrical performance featuring live music and colorful dance.  Maui Theatre (Lahaina) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday at 5pm.  http://www.ulalena.com

Burn’n Love – Reliving the excitement of The King in Hawaii, this hip-shaking musical performance features Elvis impersonator Darren Lee along with a full band and back up singers and dancers.  While focusing on his time in Hawaii (Elvis shot three movies here), it also features his #1 hits and legendary outfits.  

Maui Theatre (Lahaina) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday at 7:30pm  http://www.burnnlove.com/maui

Warren & Annabelle’s

This four-hour magical experience starts with drinks, pupus and dessert in Annabelle’s parlor where you are entertained by the resident piano-playing ghost who takes requests.  Then prepare to be amazed an intimate 78 seat theatre with “up close” magician Warren Gibson or guest magicians throughout the year.  Ages 21 and over only.  Monday thru Saturday 5pm or 7:30pm. 900 Front Street (Lahaina)  http://www.warrenandannabelles.com


If you’ve fallen in love with Maui and plan on visiting on a regular basis, you might want to consider a timeshare presentation.  Or like many of us you can pretend you’re interested and in exchange for a few hours of your time (in a dry place with snacks and beverages) you’ll receive free or discounted activities you can enjoy when the sun comes out again.  Prepare yourself for the hard sell and review the Tips for Surviving a Timeshare Presentation.  Discount “activity booths” act as a front for these presentations in Lahaina, Kihei and some of the west side resorts, and can usually be identified by the, “Where you folks from?” opening line.  If you’re not interested just say “Kihei” (pronounced “key hay”) and keep on walking.




What could be more romantic and/or refreshing than a walk on the beach in the rain?  The pounding surf will quicken your heart and the rain will cleanse your soul.  The temperature is still very pleasant even during a tropical rain and it’s probably one of the few chances you’ll have a beach to yourself.  Of course you’ll want to skip this activity in the presence of lightning or very rough surf.  Great walking beaches are the three Kamaoles (Kihei), Keawakapu (Wailea), Baldwin (Pa’ia) or Ka’anapali. 


The most spectacular sunsets often happen after a day of rain as light filtering through the clean air paints brilliant colors on a cloud-covered canvas.  Point your camera at the horizon and cross your fingers for some “no filter required” moments.  And stick around for the afterglow about 15-20 minutes after the actual sunset that can be even more amazing.



Don’t drive to Hana.  Sudden showers are common on the Road to Hana but severe weather can make the famous drive memorable in ways you won’t want to remember.  All those twists and turns become downright dangerous on slippery roads.  Flood warnings are imminent and picturesque waterfalls become raging brown torrents.   Landslides, washouts and rock or tree falls are common along the road during inclement weather (and for a few days after).  Not only do you put yourself at risk but you can be trapped for hours until the road is cleared again.  And as an added bonus there’s a good chance you’ll ruin your electronic devices if you try to take pictures (if you can see anything in the first place).  Save the Road to Hana for a drier day when you can actually see the beautiful vistas and enjoy the many stops along the way. 

Don’t go surfing or swimming.  Runoff washes pesticides (yuck!) and organic matter into the surrounding ocean creating brown water and murky conditions which attract little fish. Which attract bigger fish.  Which attract MUCH bigger fish with large, sharp, pointy teeth.  Don’t become shark bait!  Stay out of the ocean during and after rain until visibility clears.

Don’t go hiking – With its crumbly volcanic soil, steep terrain, and dense rainforest, hiking on Maui presents challenges that become even more dangerous when water is added to the equation.  Waterfall hikes are becoming a popular past time and many are easily accessible on your own.  Flash flooding is on Maui a common occurrence, and a trickling stream can become a tumultuous torrent in a matter of minutes, moving everything in its path including boulders and people.  Even if it’s dry where you are, it can be raining upstream and conditions can change very quickly.  Numerous visitors and locals are rescued every year and occasionally fatalities occur.  Check out this recent video of a group of visitors being washed over a waterfall and rescued by helicopter.


Stay safe and stay dry Maui!!!