It’s pouring rain as I write this. On my social media feeds, the usual Instagram and Facebook posts of rainbows and waves are replaced by raindrops and gray skies. One friend even posted a picture of spontaneous rivers flowing through their backyard. So there you go, it’s not always sunny in paradise.
I, for one, am thankful for the rainy weather we’ve been getting here on Maui these past few weeks. The backyard garden has spruced up, waterfalls are more beautiful than ever, and my car even got a few free washes. Indeed, Maui residents often see rainy days as a nice break from the norm. But if you’re like most visitors, you don’t want to waste a single minute of your vacation couped up in your hotel or condo watching movies or playing board games. With that in mind, here are five rainy-day activities that will keep you enjoying your Maui vacay.
1. Maui Ocean Center
It’s like scuba diving, minus the heavy equipment or the getting wet part. This Hawaiian-style aquarium is especially suited for families. Kids can get interactive at the Tide Pool exhibit, dad can grab some Kodak moments at the Turtle Lagoon and the entire family can go head to head with sharks at Hammerhead Harbor. My favorite is the 54-foot-long clear acrylic tunnel that puts you in the middle of all the underwater action. It offers a 240-degree view of nearly 2,000 fishes, plus the occasional stingray and shark visitors. This 750,000-gallon salt-water aquarium is the largest in the state! Bonus: certified divers can enter this exhibit as part of the Shark Dive Maui program.
2. Atlantis Submarines
If it’s wet above land, why not head underwater? My sister and her family (who live in Canada) were here over Christmas and took my four-year-old nephew on a trip with Atlantis and loved it. Besides seeing Maui’s underwater residents, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Carthaginian whaling ship replica, which was purposely sunk in 2005 to create an artificial reef. The 97-foot vessel lies half a mile offshore, and is now home to a variety of fish and marine life. Reservations are recommended. Definitely check their website for seasonal discounts or package deals.
The kumulipo (Hawaiian creation chant) moves from history books to center stage during a 75-minute journey through the centuries. This ultimate story-telling experience combines haunting music, eclectic dance and special effects. As a bonus, an aerial acrobatic routine — always a crowd favorite — includes Cirque du Soleil-style routine that stuns us every time. You can even complete the evening with one of the dinner-theatre packages offered with nearby restaurants.
4. Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center / Makawao galleries
“The Hui,” as it’s often referred, is housed on the historic Kaluanui Estate. The Mediterranean-style home was was built in 1917 by celebrated Hawai’i architect C. W. Dickey. It its former life, it was the home of sugar baron Harry Baldwin and his artist wife Ethel. Today it offers a rotating schedule of exhibits, classes, workshops, a gift shop and more. While you’re in the area, a short drive up Baldwin Ave. will lead you to the paniolo (cowboy) town of Makawao, where you’ll find stylish boutiques and a handful of art galleries.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Maui has some great shopping. The largest shopping center is Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, near the airport in Kahului. Personally, this is where a good chunk of my paycheck is spent. They have just about everything you need, from clothing stores and restaurants to a pharmacy and movie theaters. For the average visitor, though, you may find many of the same stores at home (i.e. Macy’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Forever 21, etc.) If you’re in the mood to spend some cash — and fall within a certain income bracket — The Shops at Wailea may be a better option. Their walkways are lined with higher-end shops not found in the average mall including Bottega Veneta, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Gucci. As a warning, though, this center is open air, so you could get a bit wet moving from store to store.