Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

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Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

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Living on O’ahu has been nothing short of a blessing for me. From the world-renowned beaches to the trails tucked away in the valleys, there’s always something special waiting to be discovered.

And guess what? You don’t have to break the bank to experience the best of this island there are dozens of cheap and free things to do on Oahu.

I’ve been lucky enough to explore many of O’ahu’s treasures, and I’ve compiled a list of 50 fantastic activities that are either free or super affordable. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, I promise there’s something on this list for everyone.

So, grab your sunscreen, put on your favorite pair of slippers, and let’s dive into the ultimate guide to enjoying O’ahu on a tight budget.

Visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Pearl Harbor Memorial is on of the best free and cheap things to do on O'ahu

Cost: Free

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a significant historical site that commemorates the events of December 7, 1941. Visitors can explore museums, listen to audio tours along the harbor, and take a boat ride out to the USS Arizona Memorial.

I have a guide specifically made for visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial if you want additional details.

Tip: Before visiting, check the official website for ticket information, operating hours, and any special events or closures. Remember to be respectful, as this is a site of remembrance for many.

Hula Show At Kuhio Beach Park

Cost: Free

The Kuhio Beach Hula Show is a free event that showcases authentic Hawaiian music and hula performances by Hawaii’s top halau hula (dance troupes) and Hawaiian artists. The show begins with the traditional Hawaiian blowing of a conch shell, known as pu kani. This show is one of the favorite free things to do among visitors.

Tip: The show takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 6:30-7:30 pm, with an additional performance on the last Sunday of each month. It’s outdoors, so bring beach chairs or mats for seating. Check the schedule as there’s no show during certain events like parades or street fairs.

Relax At Lanikai Beach

One of the best free and cheap things to do on Oahu is visit the beach.

Cost: Free

The photo above looks almost fake but I can assure you it is 100% real, a place like this truly does exist.

Lanikai Beach, often described as the “most beautiful” beach on Oahu, is a serene destination with powdery white sand and calm, aqua-blue waters. The name “Lani Kai” translates to “Heavenly Ocean”, and the beach truly lives up to its name. It’s a perfect spot for relaxation, sunbathing, and gentle swimming.

Tip: While the beach is a peaceful haven, it lacks facilities like bathrooms and showers. Consider stopping at nearby Kailua Beach Park for amenities. If you visit early, you might also catch a breathtaking sunrise. Remember, parking can be challenging due to its popularity, so be mindful of “No Parking” signs and respect the local residents.

Hike Makapu’u Light House Trail

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a popular hiking spot on Oahu, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the southeastern coastline. The trail is paved and relatively easy, making it suitable for hikers of all levels. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to views of the iconic Makapu’u Lighthouse, the deep blue Pacific Ocean, and on clear days, the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance.

Tip: The trail can get sunny and hot, so it’s advisable to start your hike early in the morning. Don’t forget to bring water, sunscreen, and a hat. There are no shade structures along the way, so be prepared for direct sunlight.

Hike Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail

Cost: Free

The Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail is an easy, uphill hike that takes you on a paved asphalt road to the iconic Hanauma Bay rock. Starting just west of the Hanauma Bay parking lot, the trail leads to the top of the ridge. Adventurous hikers can continue on a dirt path to discover a secret beach and a hidden rock bridge. From the trail, you’ll enjoy a spectacular vantage point of Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, and Hanauma Bay.

Tip: The trail offers little to no shade, so it’s recommended to wear a hat and apply sunscreen, especially if you’re prone to sunburn. Ensure you wear proper footwear as the terrain can be dry and slippery.

Hike Koko Crater

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

Koko Crater, also known as the Koko Head Stairs, is a challenging hike on Oahu that consists of over 1,000 old railway ties leading to the summit of the crater. As you ascend, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the southeastern coastline, including Hanauma Bay. The trail is steep and can be quite strenuous, but the views at the top are worth the effort.

Tip: The hike can be very sunny and hot, so it’s advisable to start early in the morning. Bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and take breaks as needed. The railway ties can be uneven, so watch your step to avoid tripping.

Visit Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a lush paradise in Oahu, spanning over 200 acres. Often compared to the scenic views of Jurassic Park, the garden is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Koolau Mountain Range. It boasts a rich collection of plants from regions like the Philippines, Hawaii, Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Polynesia, Melanesia, and Malaysia. The garden offers a tranquil escape, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty.

Tip: The garden is open daily from 9 am-4 pm and offers free entry. If you’re keen on guided experiences, they have walking tours on Saturdays at 10 am and Sundays at 1 pm. Remember, taking photos at the famous entrance is restricted, so be sure to follow the rules and always respect the plants and wildlife.

Visit Foster Botanical Gardens

Cost: Adult – $5, Resident – $3, Children – $1 (under 5 Free)

Foster Botanical Garden, located in the heart of downtown Honolulu, offers a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. As the oldest of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, it spans 14 acres and boasts a rich collection of tropical plants, some of which were planted as far back as the 1850s. The garden showcases various highlights including The Conservatory, Outdoor Butterfly Garden, Palm Garden, Prehistoric Glen Cycad Collection, and Exceptional Trees.

Tip: The garden is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, but is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If you’re planning a visit, consider taking the self-guided tour available with the visitor map to explore the garden at your own pace.

Visit Koko Crater Botanical Gardens

Cost: Free

Save money by visiting Koko Crater Botanical Garden, often referred to as “a blooming volcanic crater,” is a unique garden situated within the Koko Crater on O’ahu’s eastern side. The garden spans 60 acres within the 200-acre crater and is dedicated to the cultivation of rare and endangered dryland plants. The garden showcases various collections, including Hawaiian plants, African & Madagascan plants, a Cactus & Succulent garden, a Plumeria grove, and Dryland palms.

Tip: If you’re planning to visit, ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes, as the path is an unimproved roadway with uneven surfaces and loose rocks. Also, bring your own water since there’s no drinking water available on-site.

Visit Lyon Arboretum

Cost: Free (donations accepted)

Lyon Arboretum, a research unit of the University of Hawaii, is a botanical haven nestled in Honolulu. This lush garden is dedicated to the study and preservation of tropical plants, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty. With a variety of gardens, features, and educational programs, it’s a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Tip: All visitors are required to sign in at the Visitors Center, and reservations are currently mandatory. You can register for free through Eventbrite via the link on their homepage.

Visit Waimea Botanical Garden

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Adult (Ages 13 to 61): $25, Senior (Ages 62+): $18, Student (Must have valid student ID): $18, Child (Ages 4 to 12): $14
Group Rate (Group of over 10 adults): $18, Kama’aina or Military Adult (Must present valid ID at time of admission): $10, Kama’aina or Military Child: $6

Waimea Valley’s botanical garden is a verdant sanctuary that showcases 52 themed gardens and houses over 5,000 types of tropical and subtropical plants, including native Hawaiian plants and globally endangered species. The garden is rich in history and has been a pivotal place for the conservation of rare plants. From the diverse collection of plants to the weekly plant sales, Waimea Valley offers a unique botanical experience.

You may want to enjoy this experience with a tour that includes transportation and lunch.

Tip: For those who can’t make it in person, they also have an Etsy store where you can purchase plants grown in Waimea Valley.

Walk The Ko Olina Coastal Trail

Cost: Free

The Ko Olina Coastal Trail is a picturesque walking path that stretches along the western coastline of Oahu. This trail offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, lagoons, and the luxurious Ko Olina resorts. It’s a relatively flat and paved path, making it suitable for walkers of all ages and fitness levels. Along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful beaches, manicured landscapes, and possibly even some local wildlife.

Tip: The trail can get sunny, so consider walking during the cooler parts of the day, either early morning or late afternoon. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, a hat, and bring water. There are several lagoons along the trail, so you might want to pack a swimsuit for a refreshing dip.

Take In A Show At Royal Hawaiian Center

Cost: Free

The Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikīkī, Honolulu, is a hub for cultural experiences and authentic Hawaiian performances. Visitors can enjoy free live entertainment at The Royal Grove, including weekly Hula shows, Hawaiian music, dance performances, and a variety of cultural classes and activities such as hula and ʻukulele lessons. The center also offers special events and classes tailored for kids (keiki).

Tip: It’s always a good idea to check their official website for the latest schedule and any special events happening during your visit. If you’re staying at the Royal Hawaiian, don’t forget to watch the free fireworks every Friday night.

Visit Byodo-in Temple

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost:

General Admission:
Adult (Ages 13-64): $5.00
Senior (Ages 65+): $4.00
Child (Ages 2-12): $2.00
Children under 2: Free
Kamaaina Admission (Residents of Hawaii with valid ID):
Adult (Ages 13-64): $3.00
Senior (Ages 65+): $2.00
Child (Ages 2-12): $1.00
Children under 2: Free

The Byodo-In Temple, located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Kahaluu, O’ahu, is a serene non-practicing Buddhist temple that welcomes individuals of all faiths. Established in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, this temple is a smaller-scale replica of the ancient Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan, a United Nations World Heritage Site. The temple grounds are a paradise with wild peacocks, Japanese koi carp, a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls. It’s a place described by many as beautiful, peaceful, and restful.

There are several circle island tours that stop here, an option if you want to make the day of it.

Tip: It’s a great spot for photography, but always be respectful of ongoing ceremonies or events.

Watch The Friday Night Fireworks In Waikiki

Cost: Free

Every Friday night, the skies over Waikiki light up with a spectacular fireworks display, courtesy of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. This free event is a favorite among both locals and tourists. The fireworks can be seen from various spots in Waikiki, with the beachfront offering one of the best vantage points. The dazzling display against the backdrop of the ocean and the iconic Diamond Head makes it a memorable experience.

Tip: The fireworks usually start at either 8:00pm or 7:45pm, depending on the time of year. To get the best spot, consider arriving a bit early. The Fort DeRussy Beach near the Outrigger Reef Hotel is a recommended location for viewing.

Go Snorkeling

Cost: Free

Snorkeling is a fantastic way to explore the underwater world without the need for heavy diving equipment. O’ahu offers numerous snorkeling spots where you can witness vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, and other marine life. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced snorkeler, the clear waters of O’ahu provide an unforgettable experience.

Consider one of the 15 best snorkeling spots on O’ahu for you adventure.

Tip: Always check the weather and ocean conditions before heading out. Popular snorkeling spots on O’ahu include Hanauma Bay, Sharks Cove, and the Ko Olina lagoons. If you’re new to snorkeling, consider joining a guided tour where equipment and safety instructions are provided.

Go To Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

Cost: 11 and Older: $1

The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is O’ahu’s largest open-air flea market, where locals and tourists alike can find a wide variety of goods. From Hawaiian shirts, jewelry, and souvenirs to fresh produce, crafts, and vintage items, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great place to shop for unique gifts and souvenirs at affordable prices.

Tip: The swap meet usually takes place on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It’s advisable to arrive early to beat the heat and the crowds. Bring cash, as not all vendors accept credit cards, and don’t forget to haggle a bit to get the best deals!

Visit Hawai’i State Art Museum

Cost: Free

The Hawai’i State Art Museum, is located in the heart of downtown Honolulu. It showcases the diverse art and culture of Hawaii and the Pacific. The museum features works from local artists, representing the rich cultural heritage and contemporary movements of the region. From paintings, sculptures, to crafts and textiles, the museum offers a comprehensive view of Hawaii’s artistic landscape.

Tip: The museum also hosts various events, workshops, and exhibitions throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to check their calendar for any special happenings during your visit.

Attend A Surfing Competition

O’ahu, particularly the North Shore, is known as the surfing capital of the world. Throughout the year, especially during the winter months, the island hosts numerous surfing competitions that attract the best surfers from around the globe. These events offer spectators the chance to witness incredible feats of athleticism and skill as surfers ride massive waves. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, which includes the Billabong Pipe Masters, is one of the most prestigious events in the surfing world.

Cost: Free

Tip: If you plan to attend a surfing competition, arrive early to secure a good viewing spot. Always respect the local community, follow safety guidelines, and be mindful of the environment. Remember, the North Shore can get crowded during major competitions, so plan your transportation and accommodations in advance.

See Manoa Falls

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free (cost to park varies)

Manoa Falls is a scenic 150-foot-tall waterfall located in Honolulu. To reach the falls, visitors embark on a 1.5-mile round trip hike through a lush rainforest. The trail offers a chance to experience the beauty of Hawaii’s flora and fauna, and the sound of the waterfall becomes more pronounced as you approach. The location has been featured in movies and TV shows like Jurassic Park and Lost. At the end of the hike, you’re rewarded with the stunning view of the falls and can even cool off in the pool at its base.

Tip: The trail can be muddy and slippery, so it’s essential to wear good shoes. It’s also recommended to bring bug repellent, water, and perhaps a snack.

Swim At The Ko Olina Lagoons

Cost: Free

The Ko Olina Lagoons are a series of four man-made lagoons located on the western coast of O’ahu. These lagoons offer calm waters, making them perfect for swimming, especially for families with children. Each lagoon is connected by over a mile and a half of seaside pathways, and they are surrounded by sandy beaches, making them a popular destination for relaxation and water activities.

Tip: The lagoons are open from sunrise to sunset, with daily public parking available on a first-come, first-serve basis. While the lagoons are safe for swimming, there are no lifeguards on duty, so always exercise caution. Also, remember to lock your vehicle and safeguard any valuables when visiting.

Visit Dole Plantation

Cost: Free

The Dole Plantation is a popular attraction on O’ahu, offering a glimpse into Hawaii’s rich pineapple industry history. Located in Wahiawa, the plantation provides a range of activities for visitors, including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, Pineapple Garden Maze, and Plantation Garden Tour. The grounds are also home to various free activities, such as a pineapple-cutting and chocolate-making demonstration and a fish-feeding pond.

Tip: Admission to the Dole Plantation grounds is free, but there are fees for specific attractions like the train tour and maze. If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions, consider purchasing combo tour tickets for a better deal.

Visit Tantalus Lookout at Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park

Cost: Free

Tantalus Lookout at Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park offers breathtaking panoramic views of Diamond Head, Honolulu, and Pearl Harbor. It’s one of Honolulu’s best sunset spots and is easily accessible by car. The lookout provides a unique perspective of the city and its surrounding natural beauty without the need for a strenuous hike. It’s a must-visit for those looking to capture stunning photos of O’ahu’s landscape. If you’re looking for an extra challenge, you can hike Diamond Head as well!

Tip: The parking lot at the lookout can get busy, especially during sunset hours. Consider visiting in the late afternoon to secure a parking spot and enjoy the views before the sun goes down.

Explore Tidepools Near Makapu’u Beach Park

Cost: Free

The Makapu’u Point Tide Pools are a natural wonder located near the famous Makapu’u Beach Park. These tide pools are formed in volcanic rock and offer a unique opportunity to observe marine life in its natural habitat. The clear waters of the pools are home to various sea creatures, and the surrounding area provides stunning views of the coastline. It’s a great spot for those interested in nature and photography.

Tip: People have been swept out to sea along coastlines and specifically in this area. Always be aware of your surroundings and if not sure don’t go. The ocean can be unpredictable, never turn your back on the ocean and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Visit Halona Blowhole Lookout

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Halona Blowhole is a natural wonder on O’ahu, formed due to volcanic activity thousands of years ago. This geological formation occasionally shoots seawater up to 30 feet in the air when waves course through the underwater lava tubes. The lookout point offers a spectacular view of Halona Cove, a picturesque beach that has appeared in various movies and music videos. If you’re visiting during the winter months, you might even spot whales in the nearby waters.

Tip: The area can get crowded, so try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon for a more peaceful experience.

Visit Aloha Tower

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Aloha Tower, located at Honolulu Harbor, is an iconic lighthouse that has been welcoming visitors to O’ahu since 1926. Standing at 184 feet, it was once the tallest structure in Hawaii.

Tip: The observation deck is currently closed per the Department of Transportation Harbors. There is currently no expected open date.

See Kaka’ako Street Art

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)
Photo courtesy of https://ourkakaako.com/street-art/

Cost: Free

Kaka’ako, a vibrant neighborhood in Honolulu, is renowned for its captivating street art. As you stroll through the area, you’ll encounter a myriad of murals that bring walls and surfaces to life. A significant portion of these artworks stems from POW! WOW! Hawai‘i, a celebrated festival that attracts both local and international artists to paint and rejuvenate murals. This event, co-founded by artists Jasper Wong and Kamea Hadar, has grown into a global sensation, emphasizing more than just street art. It invites the community to partake in workshops, lectures, exhibitions, and more, fostering a deeper appreciation for art.

Tip: While some murals remain constant, others change, especially during the annual POW! WOW! Hawai‘i event. So, if you spot a piece you love, snap a photo as it might not be there on your next visit.

Visit Bishop Museum

Cost:

General Admission:
Adult: $28.95
Senior (65+): $25.95
Youth (4-17): $20.95
Kama‘āina (Residents of Hawaii with valid ID):
Adult: $14.95
Senior (65+): $12.95
Youth (4-17): $10.95
Military:
Adult: $14.95
Senior (65+): $12.95
Youth (4-17): $10.95
Members: Free
Museums for All/SNAP Card: Free for up to four people with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

The Bishop Museum, located in Honolulu, is a treasure trove of Hawai‘i’s history and living culture. Founded in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop in honor of his wife, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the museum boasts the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens. From Polynesian wayfinding to the thrill of an erupting volcano exhibit, the museum offers a deep dive into the Pacific’s rich heritage.

Tip: If you’re planning to explore multiple exhibits, consider purchasing a membership for added benefits and unlimited visits. Don’t forget to check out the Bishop Museum Café by Highway Inn for a taste of local flavors.

Listen To The Royal Hawaiian Band

Cost: Free

The Royal Hawaiian Band is a cherished musical institution in Hawai’i, founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III. As the only full-time municipal band in the United States, they have been serenading residents and visitors for nearly two centuries with traditional Hawaiian music, marches, and popular tunes.

Tip: The band often performs at various venues across O’ahu, including the Moana Surfrider Westin Hotel.

Visit Pali Lookout

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Pali Lookout is a significant historical site on O’ahu, offering panoramic views of the Windward coast. It’s the location of the Battle of Nuuanu in 1795, where King Kamehameha I and his warriors defeated Oahu’s forces, marking a pivotal moment in Hawaiian history. The lookout stands 1,200 feet above the Ko’olau Mountains and provides a sweeping view of the lush valleys, towering cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean.

Tip: The lookout is known for its strong winds, so be sure to secure any loose items like hats and scarves. There’s a parking fee for non-residents, and it’s advisable to lock your vehicle and not leave valuables in plain sight.

Walk Thru Chinatown

Cost: Free

Hawai’i and in particular O’ahu, has a long history with Chinese immigrants and as such the Chinatown section is filled not only with a lot of history but dozens of unique places to eat. Popular during the day for those buying fresh produce and the open markets and also for business lunch meetings from nearby downtown.

Tip: Keep an eye out for the blue parking signs as street parking can be a challenge.

Relax At Kapiolani State Park

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

Kapiolani Park is a beautiful and expansive city park located at the base of Diamond Head in Honolulu. Established by King Kalakaua in 1867, it’s a popular gathering place for both locals and tourists. The park is home to various activities, including walking, jogging, picnicking, and tennis. It also hosts the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Shell, a venue for concerts and other events. With its large banyan trees, shaded walkways, and scenic views, it’s a perfect spot to relax and enjoy nature.

Tip: If you’re visiting on a weekend, keep an eye out for the “Art in the Park” event where local artists display their paintings.

Walk Thru Haleiwa

Cost: Free

Haleiwa is a historic town located on the North Shore of O’ahu. Known for its laid-back vibe, surf culture, and local shops, Haleiwa is a must-visit for those looking to experience the authentic Hawaiian lifestyle. As you stroll through the town, you’ll encounter art galleries, boutiques, surf shops, and a variety of eateries serving local delicacies. The town’s wooden buildings and rustic charm transport visitors back in time, offering a glimpse into Hawaii’s plantation era.

Tip: While in Haleiwa, don’t miss out on trying the famous shave ice, a local favorite. Matsumoto Shave Ice is one of the most popular spots in town.

Go To A Farmers Market

Cost: Free

Farmers markets are vibrant places where you can find fresh, locally grown foods. These markets offer fruits and vegetables at their peak freshness, ensuring the best taste. By shopping at farmers markets, you not only get access to nutritious and fresh produce but also support local farmers and contribute to the local economy. Many markets also feature unique items, allowing you to discover new flavors and foods.

Tip: Remember to bring a reusable shopping bag for your purchases. If you’re looking for cooking inspiration or want to try something new, don’t hesitate to ask the farmers for tips and recipes.

Witness World Class Sunsets

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

Sunsets on Oahy are truly amazing any time of year but it helps to be in the right spot for best viewing. I wrote this article about the 10 Best Spots which includes a tool that shows where the sun will set so you can plan your viewing spot best.

Tip: Use the tool in the article mentioned above and plan your day so you are near the best spot during sunset.

Walk World Famous Beaches In The Morning

Cost: Free

Beaches are nature’s serene landscapes, offering a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Walking along the shores of world-famous beaches in the morning allows you to witness the pristine beauty of the sands, the rhythmic sound of the waves, and the mesmerizing hues of the rising sun. It’s a therapeutic experience that rejuvenates the mind and soul.

Tip: Waikiki beach with all its hustle and bustle is truly enjoyable in the early morning hours with a cup of coffee. Watch the early morning surfers head out and the beach boys get set up for the day.

Visit Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park

Cost: Free

Magic Island is a delightful spot in Honolulu, offering a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle. This artificial island is popular among locals for picnicking, playing frisbee, or just relaxing. Throughout the year, Magic Island hosts numerous events and festivals, including a grand fireworks display every Fourth of July. The adjacent Ala Moana Beach provides excellent conditions for swimming and surfing. The lagoon at Magic Island is known for its almost waveless waters. If you stay until the evening, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking sunset with views of Waikiki and Diamond Head in the distance.

Tip: Magic Island can get busy, especially during events. If you’re planning to visit, try to arrive early, especially if you’re driving, as parking can be a challenge from mid-morning onwards.

Visit Iolani Palace

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost:

General Admission:
Adult: $28.95
Senior (65+): $25.95
Youth (4-17): $20.95
Kama‘āina (Residents of Hawaii with valid ID):
Adult: $14.95
Senior (65+): $12.95
Youth (4-17): $10.95
Military:
Adult: $14.95
Senior (65+): $12.95
Youth (4-17): $10.95
Members: Free
Museums for All/SNAP Card: Free for up to four people with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

Iolani Palace is the only official royal residence in the United States. It was the home of Hawaii’s last reigning monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, and served as the official royal residence and the residence of the Kingdom’s political and social life until the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.

Tip: Book your tickets in advance, especially if you are visiting during the peak season. Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking. Be respectful of the palace and its history. No bathing suits or beachwear are allowed. Allow at least 60-90 minutes for your visit.

Shop At Ala Moana Center

Cost: Free

Ala Moana Shopping Center is the largest open-air shopping center in the world, with over 350 stores and restaurants and over two million square feet of retail space. The mall is home to a number of koi ponds, which are popular spots for photo ops. The koi are said to bring good luck, so many people enjoy feeding them.

Tip: Book a lunch or dinner reservation at one of several restaurants that look out over Ala Moana Beach Park and enjoy epic sunset views.

Visit Waikele Premium Outlets

Cost: Free

Waikele Premium Outlets is a popular shopping destination located in Waipahu, O’ahu. It offers a collection of designer and brand-name stores where shoppers can find significant discounts on high-quality products. From fashion to footwear, accessories to home goods, the outlets provide a diverse shopping experience for both locals and tourists.

Tip: Remember to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be walking between various stores.

Relax At Kualoa Regional Park

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

Kualoa Regional Park is a picturesque park located on the windward coast of O’ahu. It offers stunning views of the Kualoa Mountains and the iconic Chinaman’s Hat island. The park boasts a spacious grassy area perfect for picnics, a sandy beach for relaxation, and calm waters suitable for kayaking and paddleboarding. The park’s backdrop, the Kualoa Mountains, has been featured in numerous films and TV shows, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

I did a video here that you may enjoy showing the nearby Mokoli’i Island (Chinamans Hat) and the hidden beach on the other side.

Tip: The beach is quite long and curves around the shoreline so be sure to walk a bit and explore.

Visit Fort DeRussy Museum

Cost: Free

Fort DeRussy Museum, officially known as the U.S. Army Museum of Hawai’i, is located in Waikiki. This museum is dedicated to the role of the military in the history of Hawai’i. Housed in a historic coastal defense battery, the museum showcases exhibits that span from ancient Hawaiian warfare to more recent military involvements, including World War II. It provides a unique perspective on Hawai’i’s history and the influence of the military on the islands.

Tip: Admission to the museum is free, but donations are appreciated.

Volunteer At Multiple Locations

Cost: Free

Not only is volunteering an inexpensive way to see unique things on the island but it will also get you access to activities that normally charge admission. Here is a list of 14 for O’ahu, I have done several of them personally with my family.

Tip: Waimea Valley and USS Missouri both offer free admission after a morning of volunteering.

Visit the King Kamehameha Statue

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The King Kamehameha Statue is an iconic monument located in downtown Honolulu. It honors King Kamehameha I, the first ruler to unite the Hawaiian Islands under a single monarchy in the early 19th century. The statue depicts the king holding a spear in his left hand, symbolizing the peace and unity he brought to the islands. Every year on June 11th, the statue is adorned with flower lei in celebration of King Kamehameha Day.

Tip: If you’re visiting the statue, consider taking a moment to read the informational plaques nearby to learn more about King Kamehameha’s legacy and significance in Hawaiian history.

Visit The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

Cost: Free

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, often referred to as the Punchbowl Cemetery is located in the Punchbowl Crater in Honolulu. It serves as a memorial to honor those men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces and gave their lives in the line of duty. The cemetery is a place of reflection and remembrance, with meticulously maintained grounds and a solemn atmosphere.

Tip: If you’re planning to visit, it’s essential to maintain a respectful demeanor, as this is a place of rest for many heroes. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable shoes, as the grounds are expansive.

Visit Wahiawa Botanical Gardens

Cost: Free

Wahiawa Botanical Garden, often referred to as the “tropical jewel” of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, is nestled between the Wai‘anae and Ko‘olau mountain ranges in central O’ahu. Spanning 27 acres, this garden and forested ravine have a rich history dating back to the 1930s when it was used by sugar planters as an experimental arboretum.

Tip: The garden offers both self-guided and group tours. If you’re interested in a more structured experience, consider calling ahead to inquire about group tours.

Hike Lanikai Pillbox

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

The Lanikai Pillbox hike, also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail, is one of O’ahu’s most famous and scenic hikes. The trail takes you to two old military bunkers (pillboxes) on a ridge, offering panoramic views of the stunning Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands, and the surrounding ocean. The hike is relatively short but can be steep in some sections. Once at the top, you’re rewarded with breathtaking vistas, making it a favorite spot for sunrise views.

Tip: This made my list of best sunrise hikes on Oahu but make sure it didn’t rain the night before as this trail can be extra slippery.

Visit KCC’s Farmers Market

Cost: Free

The KCC Farmers Market, located at the Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, is a bustling market known for its wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local delicacies. Every Saturday morning, both locals and tourists flock to the market to sample and purchase items ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to prepared foods, baked goods, and crafts.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring cash, as not all vendors accept credit cards.

Snorkel At Sharks Cove

Top 50 Free And Cheap Things To Do On Oahu (2024)

Cost: Free

Sharks Cove, located on O’ahu’s renowned North Shore, is one of the island’s premier snorkeling and diving spots. Recognized by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the “Top Twelve Shore Dives in the World,” this rocky bay is part of Pupukea Beach Park. It boasts clear blue waters and a rich array of marine life. The bay’s floor consists of large smooth boulders and coral heads, creating small caves and ledges where marine creatures take refuge.

Tip: Sharks Cove can get crowded, especially during peak times. It’s best to arrive early, around 9-10 am, to secure parking and enjoy the spot before it gets too busy. If you’re snorkeling during Hawaii’s surf season (October through April), ensure there are no large swells.

Rent A Bike

Cost:

One-way: This is the most basic option. You pay a flat fee of \$4.50 for each 30-minute ride. If you ride for more than 30 minutes, you will be charged an additional \$0.50 per minute.
Day pass: This option gives you unlimited rides for 24 hours. The cost is \$12.
Monthly subscription: This option gives you unlimited rides for 30 days. The cost is \$25 for Kama’āina (Hawaii residents) and \$30 for Visitors.
Free Spirit plan: This plan gives you 300 minutes of riding time per year. The cost is \$25.

Biki is a bike-sharing system in Honolulu, O’ahu. It’s a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the city. With many Biki stops around Honolulu, you can easily pick up a bike, ride it to your destination, and drop it off at another Biki stop.

Tip: Always check the bike’s tires and brakes before starting your ride. Use the Biki app to find nearby stations and available bikes.

Final Thoughts

My home, O’ahu, truly lives up to its name with a gathering of activities and attractions that cater to every kind of traveler.

From the solemn history of Pearl Harbor to the vibrant hula shows at Kuhio Beach Park, the island offers a wide range of experiences. Nature lovers can revel in the beauty of places like Lanikai Beach, Manoa Falls, and the numerous botanical gardens, each offering a unique glimpse into Hawaii’s diverse ecosystems. Meanwhile, cultural enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the island’s history at Iolani Palace or the Bishop Museum. The convenience of Biki bikes further enhances the exploration experience, allowing visitors to traverse Honolulu with ease.

Whether you’re watching the sunset, hiking a scenic trail, or simply soaking in the local art and music, O’ahu promises an unforgettable journey filled with aloha spirit.

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Aloha, as the founder and chief editor of Suites & Lobbies, I enjoy offering unique perspectives on hotel accommodations, airline services, dining experiences, and the evolving travel landscape of Hawai'i. Raised in the town of Ka'alaea on O'ahu, a native Hawaiian, and a lifelong learner. My extensive travels across Hawai'i ensure that readers receive accurate and up-to-date information, from emerging hotel projects to the latest in restaurant openings and travel-related concerns. My commitment is to provide unbiased, thorough insights stemming from first-hand knowledge of current affairs here in Hawai’i. I further showcase this on my YouTube channel, where I present detailed visual reviews and updates. Connect with me there or find me on LinkedIn engaging with industry peers and fostering meaningful discussions on Hawai'i travel. Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS1xESm74twX__Iw9ESs5BA LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/brandon-hughes-hoku-marketing/

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much! We are visiting in Febuary for 2 weeks. We’re pretty active senoirs. My husband clay shoots, alot & would enjoyshooting in Hawaii.
    Thoughts on flying over to Maui for a shooting experience at Maui Sporting Clays. How would you suggest we get there? Thanks! Linda

    • Hi Linda,

      Maui Sporting Clays is in Wailea on Maui so I would book an early morning flight on Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest, then rent a car to drive out. If you have time you will be near the Wailea Coastal Trail which is beautiful. I recommend Tin Roof Restaurant in Kahului which you will pass coming and going from the airport. Enjoy!

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