Bring an Umbrella
Some of the wettest places on the planet are tucked in remote areas; however, there are plenty of inhabited places that experience a tremendous amount of rain each year.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of these cities are located in tropical climates, and while some have dedicated seasons when it pours buckets, others see consistent rainfall throughout the year. Here are eight of the world’s rainiest cities—also known as eight cities to avoid on your vacation if you're seeking sun.
With a population of just over 100,000, Quibdó—the largest city in the department of Choco, Colombia—sees a staggering 288.5 inches (7,328 millimeters) of rainfall each year. Located near the mountains on Colombia’s western side, Quibdó has no dry season and it rains nearly every day of the year (304 rainy days on average).
However, the colder season in December gets more rain in the form of drizzle, while the warm season (April) sees more thunderstorms. March has the least amount of rain overall, but it still rains for half of the month. Ironically, despite the large amounts of rainfall, Quibdó often experiences a shortage of usable water due to the lack of reliable water storage systems.
Despite the rainy weather, there are still plenty of things to do in Quibdo throughout the year, including the annual Fiestas de San Pancho celebrations. Additionally, many of the city's most popular destination—like Catedral San Francisco de Asis—are mostly indoors, and you can always escape the rain at a nice restaurant like Maria Mulata Quibdo or Balafon Cafe.
On Africa’s northwestern coast, Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia is home to a population of over one million people who get doused in 182 inches of rainfall each year over a coincidental average of 182 rainy days.
Monrovia’s rainy season lasts from May through October, but June and July are the wettest, getting around 37 inches (958 millimeters) of precipitation per month. During this time, many roads become impassable due to gobs of red mud. The months between December and February are still very humid and see occasional showers, but are significantly drier. January, for instance, only gets around two inches of rainfall over the month.
When visiting Liberia during the rainy season, the popular Bernard's Beach or Providence Island destinations might not be ideal, but stop by the Liberian National Museum or the Executive Mansion to learn about the history of this African city while avoiding the summer storms.
Despite the postcard-perfect images of swaying palms, beaches, and sunshine, the Hawaiian Islands see some of the highest numbers of rainfall in the world.
When it comes to Hawaii’s cities, the Big Island’s Hilo is the winner with 272 days of rain totaling 126.7 inches over the year. November is typically the rainiest month, getting around 16 inches total, while June is typically warm and drier with just seven inches throughout the month.
Rainfall in the Hawaiian islands largely depends on elevation—coastal areas get less rain than destinations inland, higher up the mountains. Parts of the island of Maui, such as Big Bog on the edge of Haleakala National Park and the mountain of Puu Kukui, receive 404.4 and 384.4 inches of rain per year (respectively), while Mt. Wai’ale’ale on Kauai sees an incredible 450 inches.
Although the most popular attractions in Hilo are outdoors—like Hilo Bay, Coconut Island, Rainbow Falls, Lili'uokalani Park, and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden—you can also discover history at the Pacific Tsunami Museum or take a look at the stars at the Imiloa Astronomy Center. Afterward, grab a locally-grown snack at the Hilo Farmers Market, an indoor shop that's open twice weekly.
Mangalore is perched along the Arabian Sea on India’s western coast where the Netravathi and Gurupur rivers meet. With a population of 400,000, Mangalore is a minor city (by Indian standards, anyway), but it receives around 137 inches (3,480 millimeters) of rainfall over the year.
July is the wettest month in Mangalore, getting around (1,140 millimeters) of rainfall over the month. Meanwhile, January doesn't receive any rainfall at all, and December, February, and March all get under an inch (25 millimeters) of rain per month.
However, although its rainfall numbers are nothing to scoff at, it is by no means the rainiest place in India. India’s northeastern Meghalaya state is home to the two wettest villages in the world: Cherrapunji, which sees 464 inches, and Mawsynram, which gets 467 inches—making it the “wettest place on the planet.”
Although the city's three main beaches and variety of outdoor markets are its most popular destinations for tourists, there are also plenty of things to do indoors during the rainier seasons. Take refuge from the summer storms at the Mangaladevi Temple, a Hindu temple built in the 9th Century, or the Kadri Manjunath Temple overlooking the city.
Buenaventura, another of Colombia’s western cities, lies more than 100 miles south of its rainy sister, Quibdó, but is significantly larger in population with more than 300,000 residents. Buenaventura rests along the Pacific Ocean and gets around 289 inches (7,328 millimeters) of rain each year.
January through April are the driest months, but in its wettest months (September and October), the city receives more rain than most U.S. cities do in an entire year. February, the driest month, still gets 12 inches (295 millimeters) of rainfall, and October gets around 35 inches (897 millimeters).
Almost all of the best attractions in Buenaventura are outdoors—including the San Cipriano Nature Reserve, Pianguita Beach, Playa Juan de Dios, and Bahia Malaga. However, the city is also known for its rich food culture and is home to a number of great Columbian restaurants. Stop by the Centro Comercial Viva Buenaventura to sample a few local cuisines or check out Burako, Cafe Pacifico, or Terraza Atalaya for some of the best food in the city.
Cayenne, French Guiana
Cayenne—the capital city of the only French-speaking nation in South America—rests just north of the Equator and has a tropical coastal climate. The city developed along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and in addition to being known for colonial French heritage and Cayenne pepper, it is one of the wettest cities in South America with 147 inches (3,744 millimeters) of rain each year and 212 rainy days.
Although it sees rain throughout the year, Cayenne has two rainy seasons: from December to January and April to mid-July. If your travels will take you to Cayenne during these times, you can answer the question "Va-t'il pleuvoir aujourd'hui?" ("will it rain today") with a resounding "Oui."
Fortunately, the Place Victor Schoelcher Market—the main market in Cayenne—will be open rain or shine, and you can browse through hundreds of vendors of fresh tropical fruit, Asian-inspired snacks, fragrant spices, and exotic perfumes. Alternatively, head to the Musée Départemental De Franconia for an overview of the country' s history.
Measuring in with 113 inches (2,870 millimeters) a year, Belem doesn’t see the same jaw-dropping numbers as cities in other South American countries. However, it receives rainfall on an average of 251 days a year.
As the capital of the state of Pará, it is a port city that borders the Guajará Bay with a population of around 143,000. Tucked in the northernmost corner just below the Equator, Belem is closer to the rainy city of Cayenne than it is to Rio de Janeiro.
The rainy season in Belem runs between December and May, and February and March are the two rainiest months with around 12 to 14 inches of precipitation each month. Conversely, September through November get less than two inches of rainfall per month, and June through August rarely see over five inches.
On rainy days, explore the Emilio Goeldi Museum to learn about natural sciences or Forte do Presépi to learn about the war history of this coastal city. Alternatively, you can stop by the oldest public market in the city, Ver-o-peso, which offers cover from the rain as you browse local foods and medicinal herbs in this open-air market.
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Located just north of the Equator with a tropical monsoon climate, Malaysia is one of the wettest countries on the planet. Kuala Terengganu, a city in the northwest corridor with a population of around 285,000, receives an average of 115 inches of rainfall each year.
The modern city of Kuala Terengganu grew at the foot of the Terengganu River, which saw extreme flooding in December 2014. Most of the rain in Kuala Terengganu arrives between November and January, but the city, which is famous for its "Crystal Mosque," is hot and humid year-round.
Other popular indoor attractions include the Teck Soon Heritage House in Chinatown, which has been turned into a museum of Chinese culture in the city, the Ho Ann Kiong Buddhist Temple, and the Chinatwon Hawker Center, a popular "food house" offering the best in local cuisine.