You’re looking for things to do in Oahu, that are completely free.
Here’s advice from someone that was born and raised on the Hawaiian islands.
11. Arizona Memorial
It’s no surprise that Pearl Harbor is Hawai’i’s most popular tourist destination. It’s beautiful, honorable, and free. There are about 1,300 free tickets that Pearl Harbor gives out every day to those looking to visit the Arizona Memorial. These tickets include a short film to learn more about the Attack on Pearl Harbor and a quick boat ride to visit the Arizona Memorial and pay your respects. These tickets get booked quickly so head over to their website and book in advance.
10. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is the one-stop shop for outdoor lovers with tons of different plants and birds to search for and the best part is admission is always free. With over 400 acres to explore, there are tons of hikes and nature walks to accomplish. Our favorite part of Ho’omaluhia is their free catch-and-release fishing on the weekends. Stop by the Visitor’s Center to pick up a free fishing pole then head over to their 32-acre lake and start hooking some fish like tilapia and Midas cichlid.
9. Catch a Free Hula Show
Kuhio Beach Hula Show is an authentic hula show that takes place in Waikiki. The show is about an hour long and starts at 6:30 PM (6:00 PM November – January). The show starts off with a torch lighting and traditional blowing of the conch shell. Seating is on the grass, but we recommend bringing beach chairs or mats to sit on. Don’t forget your camera!
8. Hawaii State Art Museum
The Hawaii State Art Museum houses some of the best contemporary art from artists across Hawaii. Admission is free and includes all exhibits, events, and activities. The exhibits change often; you can check out the list of current exhibits here. Some of the most notable past exhibits include a sculpture garden, Hawaiian culture creations, and an emphasis on artists playing with scale.
7. Free Fireworks Show
Hilton Hawaiian Village holds a free firework show every Friday Night. The ten-minute show takes place on the beach in front of their lagoon and is open to everyone. Set up your beach chairs or mat near the lagoon a little before the show to catch the sunset and get two shows for the price of none. Bring your dinner for a sunset beach picnic!
6. Go for a Hike
Get the best seat in the house for Oahu’s breathtaking landscape and scenery. Oahu has many diverse trails for hikers of all experience levels. Hike down an easy path to learn more about Hawaii’s plants, on a steep hill to get to a world war II bunker with a view, or up a lush trail to end at a refreshing waterfall – there are so many possibilities. Some of our favorite trails include Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, Diamond Head Hike, and the Lanikai Pillbox Hike.
5. Punchbowl Cemetery
Punchbowl National Cemetery is a 116-acre cemetery housed in an extinct volcano. This cemetery was built in 1948 to serve as the final resting place for the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces. At the top of the cemetery, you’ll find exhibits to learn more about the cemetery and the soldiers whom it honors.
4. Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
I know what you’re thinking, “I’m on this article for FREE activities – not to go shopping!” Don’t worry! Royal Hawaiian Center takes pride in perpetuating the Hawaiian culture with complimentary cultural activities. They offer complimentary classes Monday – Saturday including ‘ukulele playing, hula dancing, lei making, and so much more! In addition to these free classes, don’t forget to check out their free live entertainment Tuesday – Saturday. Learn more here.
Hawaii is known for its amazing beaches and a trip to Oahu wouldn’t be complete without one. Stray off the beaten path of Waikiki to experience the shore break where Barack Obama body surfs, the cove full of fish for snorkeling, or the famous bay to jump into. There are so many different beaches that are all beautiful in their own way. Our favorites include Sandy Beach Park, Waimea Bay, and Queen’s Beach.
2. Visit Jurassic Park Locations
If you’re a fan of the Steven Spielberg sci-fi thriller, Jurassic Park, you’re in luck. O’ahu is home to many of the famous film locations and they are free for you to visit. One of the most famous Jurassic Park locations are the famous mountains at Kuala Ranch. The ranch is a famous backdrop for several popular TV shows and movies including Hawaii Five-O, Jumanji: Welcome to The Jungle, LOST, and more! Although the ranch has paid tours and activities, it’s free to visit and pet their horses which live right in front of the picturesque mountain range. Other notable Jurassic Park locations that are free to visit include Makai Research Pier, Halona Beach, and Manoa Falls.
1. Road Trip
It may seem impossible to go on a road trip on such a small island but it’s not! – take a drive around the island and take in all the beautiful scenery. Don’t forget to stop along the way for some free activities, beaches, or hikes.
Here’s our favorite O’ahu road trip route:
Starting in Waikiki, follow Kalākaua Avenue and take in the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Strip. Kalakaua Avenue will eventually turn into Diamond Head Road which you can follow to Diamond Head Lookout to overlook some of the best cliff views of the surfers down below.
After you soak up the beauty of Diamond Head, get on the freeway and keep following the road, you’ll end up on a beautiful winding road with amazing views of the ocean. Next, you’ll find Sandy Beach Park on your right. This is where President Obama goes to bodysurf when he’s on O’ahu.
When you get back on the road, keep in the same direction and you’ll pass Makai Research Pier for the Jurassic Park fan in you. After the pier, you’ll keep driving through famous towns like Kailua and Kaneohe before reaching the famous beachside roads in Kahalu’u and Punalu’u. Keep following this road and you’ll end up in O’ahu’s famous North Shore with famous locations like Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach at your side.
After taking in all there is to experience on the North Shore, continue straight onto the freeway and circle back to town.
P.S. Road trips are always a little more fun in a convertible; just don’t forget the sunscreen.