How to make the most of a rainy beach vacation

PHOTO: Spa center with swimming pool.Getty Images
Spa center with swimming pool.

We've all been there: Opening our hotel room curtains expecting clear skies over blue water, only to be met with downpours.

Even if you plan your beach vacation around the wet and dry seasons, there's always a chance of rain. If a sunny ocean getaway is your savior from a chilly winter or simply a time to get some R&R in a picturesque setting, getting rained out of your beachfront lounger can be quite a damper.

But before you throw in the wet towel and let inclement weather ruin your vacation, read on for our tips on how to make the most of a rainy beach trip.

1. Have a spa day
If you can't get your relaxation time at the beach, there's no better spot than a spa. After an hour (or several) of deep-tissue massages, aromatherapy treatments, coffee scrubs, and pedicures, you'll forget about the rain and be back in bliss mode. If the rain isn't too loud and the wind is minimal, use it to your advantage as pleasant background noise and book a treatment in a covered outdoor area with sea views.

2. Explore top attractions in the area
Even if a locale is known for its stretches of sand, it likely has a few top attractions that can be enjoyed indoors. Museums are the most obvious, but there are also aquariums and community playhouses that are ideal for rainy and cold-weather days. For instance, the several museums in San Diego's Balboa Park, Waikiki Aquarium in Hawaii, and Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro are all popular spots to spend a day away from the beach.

3. Catch a movie
Although they may lack the historical, cultural, or artistic significance of above attractions, movie theaters are the tried-and-true way to beat a rainy day. Whether you're catching the latest blockbuster, indie film, or documentary, you get around two hours of precipitation-free entertainment. Chances are there's a movie out that you're interested in seeing, and now you won't feel bad about spending vacation time doing so. Bonus points if you can find an artsy cinema or old-fashioned theater that's a bit more interesting than your neighborhood go-to. Additionally, several hotels have free movie screenings for days like these, so check with the front desk.

4. Take a self-guided food tour
Grilling hot dogs on the beach or eating on a seaside terrace will be out of the question, but foodies can curate a full day of wining and dining at the area's most delicious eateries. If the city is known for certain specialties -- like cuban sandwiches in Miami, lobster rolls in the Hamptons, and grilled octopus in Santorini -- make it a priority to try local dishes. Yelp and TripAdvisor are good resources for finding fan favorites, or ask staff and other locals for in-the-know places. For those that would rather leave the work to the professionals, see if any companies in the area have food tours that can be booked on the fly.

5. Bust out the games
Whether you're a party of one or 20, cards and board games are fun and cheap ways to keep occupied while the weather is unpleasant. A deck of cards won't take up much room in your suitcase, and several games have phone apps instead of the traditional boxed variety. Others, like pictionary and charades, just require paper and pencil. Even better, many resorts have specific game rooms with pool tables, lounge areas with chess and checkers, and even arcade-style machines.

6. Keep cozy in bed
On your honeymoon or a romantic getaway when Mother Nature strikes? Take it as a sign that you two should stay in bed and keep each other company. Make use of the in-room intimacy kits and jetted bathtubs for adult fun, or order room service and watch a pay-per-view flick without fear of spilling crumbs on your own sheets. If there's a good chance you'll be encountering rain on your vacation, try and plan ahead with a good-sized room with all the fittings -- or see if you can upgrade last-minute.

7. Embrace the rain
This doesn't apply if there's thunder, lightning, or flash flood-level water, but if rainfall is mild, embrace it. You won't mind getting wet if you're already playing in the pool or soaking in a hot tub. Or, as most travelers seek cover indoors, you can take a walk along the crowd-free beach. If there are hiking trails in the area that are doable in light rain, go there. Trees overhead will shield you from some of the drops, and streams or waterfalls along the way may be more mesmerizing thanks to added water. Remember that singing and dancing in the rain are surefire ways to keep smiling in less-than-perfect weather. Plus, you may be rewarded with an epic rainbow.