O‘ahu is blessed with beautiful weather thanks to perpetually sunny skies, soothing trade winds, and predictable rainy seasons that usually only result in short, isolated showers on the interior mountains. Still, if you find yourself socked in, rained out, or in need of a day out of the brilliant Hawaiian sun, there are plenty things to do in O‘ahu indoors on this lively and entertaining tropical paradise.
While a portion of the aquarium is outdoors (the Hawaiian monk seal tank and some coral exhibits), the interior of this small but entertaining tribute to the denizens of the deep is well worth a visit. From the moment you step foot inside, you will be astounded by the beauty, mystery, and sheer power of the ocean and the creatures that call it home. The incredible colors and diversity of life at the South Pacific reef exhibit are truly astonishing, while the Reef Predators exhibit is home to the largest fish in the aquarium, with giant groupers reaching eight feet and 800 pounds! Watch from the viewing area on all sides of the massive tank as the largest reef predators circle with sharks and jacks close behind. Admission is only $9, or $2 for kids, making it one of the most affordable things to do in O‘ahu!
Originally an all-boys school, the Bishop Museum features interactive exhibits, the Hawai‘i Hall that is home to numerous treasures and cultural artifacts from Hawai‘i throughout the years, and cutting-edge planetarium shows. Kids will love the Science Adventure Center where they can similar volcanic eruptions, crawl through lava tubes, and simulate tsunamis in a giant wave pool.
The only royal residence in the United States, the ‘Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu was the seat of the Hawaiian monarchy until the end of the 19th century. Visitors can enjoy guided or self-guided tours of the ornately paneled and lavishly decorated rooms, learning about the history of the Hawaiian Islands from their original settlers to the conjoining of the Islands to the arrival of Westerners.
Did you know Hawai‘i is home to one of the world’s largest open-air malls? Ala Moana Shopping Center, located just outside of Waikīkī, offers hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail space featuring high-end department stores, chic boutiques, and local artisans. Covered walkways allow you to enjoy Hawai‘i even when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and there are plenty of play areas, live shows, and restaurant and entertainment venues (including a new bowling alley) to keep the entire family happy. Plus if it clears up, Ala Moana Beach Park is right across the street. A visit here is one of our favorite O‘ahu activities.
Honolulu Museum of Art
The largest fine-art museum in Hawai‘i, this treasure trove of more than 50,000 pieces includes examples of Asian, American, and European art and culture spanning 500 years. Stroll the galleries, enjoy refreshments in the central courtyard, and find inspiration in the incredible paintings, statuary, and modern art exhibits. Admission is free on Wednesdays (and third Sundays), and $10 on other days.