A trip to Hawaii especially the popular island of Oahu can be an expensive Hawaiian vacation. But, some of the best things to do in Oahu are actually free or very inexpensive for the public to enjoy. You just have to be resourceful to visit and enjoy some of these free attractions around the island. Here’s a top ten list of free things to do around the island.
USS Arizona Memorial
A visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the top tourist destinations in Hawaii with over 1,500,000 visitors annually. In addition there is also a memorial for the USS Missouri that is open to the public. A solemn experience, the memorial marks the grave site of over 1177 that lost their lives. Tours of the USS Arizona must be reserved. To reserve online there is a $1.50 reservation fee per ticket.
Watch the big Waves
Oahu’s North Shore is home to the top world-class surfers in the world when the winter waves reach their majestic heights. It is an easy hour’s drive from Waikiki to lovely Hale’iwa town where the North Shore begins for most visitors as they travel in an eastward direction around Oahu. Be sure to stop at the Banzai Pipeline where you can see surfers make their way through the middle of a wave.
Free walking tours of Honolulu
Downtown Honolulu hosts many of Hawaii’s historic buildings. These buildings and monuments are all within walking distance to each other and there are is signage at the site to explain the significance to each building. These include the following: ‘Iolani Palace, The Kamehameha I Statue, The Hawaii State Capitol, The Mission Houses Museum, Kawaiaha’o Church, and the Old Federal Building. Many of the sites are free, but ‘Iolani Palace and the Mission Houses Museum charge for guided tours.
Hiking around Diamond Head
A hike to the top of Diamond Head offers a spectacular view of Waikiki and many parts of Oahu. It takes about an hour hiking up a worn pathway to the top and the views are amazing for photographs. There is a $1 fee per hiker and $5 per car at the entrance.
Located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples is the stunning Byodo-In Temple. It is a replica a temple in Uri, Japan which is approximately 950-years old. The temple built in 1960’s commemorates the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii who came to work in the sugar plantation fields. The entrance Fee – $2.00 per person.
Located high above a tunnel on the Pali Highway, the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Park and overlook is a wonderful and historic vista point. From the lookout you have magnificent views the entire Kane’ohe area and bay, including Kailua, the Ko’olau Mountains and the peninsula. There are interesting historical placards on site to explain the history and significance of the area. Admission is free.
The largest and oldest public park in Hawaii Kapi’olani Park is named after Queen Kapi’olani, the wife of King David Kalakaua. Entrance is free but there is a charge of $8 (13 years and older) to the Honolulu Zoo, Aquarium. The park is perfect for picnics, enjoying the beach and strolling through the park grounds.
Hanauma Bay was originally a large volcanic caldera and in a very long period of flooding and erosion created this wonderful snorkeling destination on Oahu. Meaning “curved bay” in Hawaiian, the marine preserve contains beautiful reefs and thousands of tropical fish and other sea life. All the marine animals are protected so no touching, walking or disturbing of the various animals is allowed. Entrance Fee – $1.00 per car to park and $5.00 per person to enter
Tour the Dole Plantation
Started originally as a fruit stand in 1950, the Dole Plantation is a well-loved attraction dedicated to the pineapple. Many parts of the Dole Plantation are free, including some of the gardens displaying different varieties of pineapple growing. There is a small fee for other parts of the garden, the maze tour or the Pineapple express train.
Visit Punchbowl National Cemetery
A beautiful, solemn, and peaceful site that is Hawaii’s National cemetery, it rests in the crater of an extinct volcanic crater that was formed 75,000 to 100,000 years ago. It was also the site of many royal alii (chiefs) burials. Gorgeous views of the Honolulu skyline at the lookouts are worth the short drive to the national cemetery. The cemetery is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on the weekend is staffed with veterans
There are so many activities and options to enjoy a vacation on Oahu and many of the activities above are either free or inexpensive. Go ahead and enjoy some of these free activities and then you can splurge for a nice dinner, luau or even a cruise around the gorgeous bay front in Waikiki at sunset.