Hawaii can be an expensive vacation, but if you’re staying on Waikiki, there are plenty of things to do for free. Here are 20 things to do in Waikiki & Honolulu for free:
1.Kuhio Beach: Nothing beats a day at the beach! And they won’t charge you a dime to lay out your towel for the day and frolic in the clear blue water.
2.Watch the sunset: Sunsets on Waikiki are pretty magical. You can watch from the beach for free, or venture up to a resort poolside bar for a special treat.
3.Friday fireworks. Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village shoots off fireworks in the skies over Waikiki. Watch from the lagoon in front of the Hilton or anywhere in Waikiki really.
4.Ala Moana Center Stage: The Ala Moana is Honolulu’s most prestigious shopping mall, and while the luxury brands there will certainly set you back, their Center Stage offers great entertainment. Check the schedule here.
5.Aloha Tower: Located in Honolulu Harbor, built in 1926 as a beacon to welcome visitors to Hawaii (who came almost entirely by boat), the 10th floor observation deck offers great views of Honolulu and the water.
6.Royal Hawaiian Hotel Tour: The iconic “Pink Palace of the Pacific” offers complimentary walking tours that showcase the hotel’s history every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 PM. Tours meet in the Royal Hawaiian Bakery.
7.Moana Surfrider Tour: Similarly, Waikiki’s first hotel, “the First Lady of Waikiki” also hosts complimentary historical tours every Monday and Wednesday at 11 AM in the Historical Room on the 2nd floor.
8.Hike Diamond Head: While although it technically costs $1/person to walk in, hiking Diamond Head is not to be missed and is a pretty economical adventure.
9.Honolulu Fish Auction: The Honolulu Fish Auction is the only tuna auction in the United States and quite an experience. It’s free and open to the public, but you’ll have to arrive early to see the show (6AM-8AM is preferred) and it’s chilly inside so bring a jacket!
10.Manoa Falls: A popular hike because it’s quick (1.6 miles round trip) and rewarding (hello waterfall!), this may be your easiest chance for waterfall gazing.
11.Hawaii State Capitol: Located in downtown Honolulu, self-guided tours are available 8:30 AM-3:30 PM Monday through Friday. Guided tours are available for the public on Wednesdays at 1 PM.
Not sure where to begin with putting together an itinerary for your trip? It’s a big task! I mean, how much can you really do in one vacation? And how do you plan things so you’re not backtracking all over the island trying to fit everything in? I’m letting you in on ALL of my itinerary planning secrets in. Sign up below to grab my FREE 7-page Hawaii itinerary planning guide that will lead you through planning the perfect Hawaii itinerary. Click the graphic below to sign up!
12.Tantalus Lookout: Make the drive up to Puu Ualakaa State Park for amazing views of Honolulu, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Pearl Harbor.
13.Royal Hawaiian Band Concerts: Weather permitting the Royal Hawaiian Band performs every Friday from 12-1 on the lawn of the Iolani Palace. Chairs are set up and a huge banyan tree provides nice shade.
14.Hawaii State Art Museum: Located on the 2nd floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building in downtown Honolulu, HiSAM features rotating exhibits that highlight the art of the people of Hawaii.
15.Kawaiaha’o Church: Thought to be the oldest church in Hawaii, the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific” holds services on Sundays in English and Hawaiian.
16.Honolulu Museum of Art: This world-class art museum offers free admission on the first Wednesday and third Sunday of every month.
17.Magic Island: This small manmade peninsula next to Ala Moana Beach Park has a nice protected lagoon to swim in. It’s also a great spot to watch the Friday night fireworks from.
18.USS Arizona Memorial: While some of the attractions at Pearl Harbor require a fee (USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum), tours of the USS Arizona and the two museums at the visitor’s center are free.
19.Torch Lighting and Hula Show: Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday under the banyan tree at Kuhio Beach, catch a ceremonial torch lighting and hula show.
20.Hawaii Army Museum: Open Tuesday-Saturday from 9-5, the Hawaii Army Museum is home to artifacts from ancient Hawaiian armies to more modern campaigns.
Feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to plan the perfect Oahu itinerary? I’ve got just the thing for you!
Oahu Bound! I’ve put together the BEST Oahu itineraries you’ll find anywhere! These are the itineraries I use on my trips to Oahu (plus a few tweaks because hindsight is 20/20 right?) and they’re perfect for first time and repeat visitors who want to see the very best of Oahu.
Check it out here.
I’ve included everything from the best snorkeling spots, beaches, and excursions and it’s all broken down by each part of the island so you won’t waste any time backtracking.
So what exactly do you get? With Oahu Bound, you’ll get a 3, 4, 5, and 6-day itinerary and I’m not just talking about a bullet point list of to dos. Each itinerary comes with 10-15 pages of commentary explaining why I recommend doing certain things (plus various options to suit your interests). Each itinerary also comes with its own Google Map (broken down by day). You’ll also get an itinerary template that you can use to make your own, along with extensive tips on creating your own itinerary, a huge list of things to do on Oahu, and directions for making your own Google Maps.
This is basically vacation in a box, friend! Just add a bit of salt water and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
Click here to grab the Oahu Bound itinerary bundle.