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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.
RELATED: Not very familiar with Oahu? Read up on the lay of the (is)land and where to stay plus my favorite beach resorts, budget hotels, condos, honeymoon resorts, family friendly resorts, luxury resorts, and boutique hotels.
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.
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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.
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These aren’t week long itineraries, but daily itineraries so you can pick and choose what works best for your trip. If you’re the go-go-go type, then pick 6 different daily itineraries and string them together into one adventure packed trip. If you’re staying at a nice beach resort and wanting to take advantage of the amenities, then pick 2-3 daily itineraries and spend the rest of the week chilling at the resort/beach. If you’re going on an island hopping extravaganza trip, use the daily itineraries to figure out how many days to spend on each island and what to do!
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.
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