“Some of the best things in life are free.” I think we can all agree that most of the time that holds true……especially here in Hawaii where everything can get expensive fairly quickly. So whether you’re looking to pinch some pennies on your next vacation to the island or you have the good fortune to live here and want to explore without spending a ton of moula, here are 10+ FREE things to do on Oahu!
1. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
Aside from the beautiful beaches, perhaps what Oahu is most known for is the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. The Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center provides you with a first-hand glimpse of the attack through the exhibit galleries, Waterfront Submarine Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Memorial, and, especially, the USS Arizona Memorial. The mood is somber and you might be moved to tears but the experience is well worth it.
Notes: while tickets to the USS Arizona are free, they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis so you might want to reserve your ticket online. A more in-depth look at our visits to Pearl Harbor + USS Arizona coming soon.
2. Hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater
If you want a postcard-perfect view of the shoreline, this is the place you should go! The hike up to the summit is a little more than a mile and fairly easy–although the last stretch does include stairs and a short tunnel. And once you get to the Fire Control Station at the tip top of the trail, the view just can’t be beat.
Notes: I recommend visiting when the park opens at 6am to beat the heat and the crowds. Also there is a $1 entrance fee for pedestrians/$5 fee for cars which makes this technically not completely free but I’m still including it on this list.
3. Hike to Manoa Falls
4. Enjoy a fireworks show on Waikiki Beach.
That’s right! There’s a free firework show right on the beach every Friday night courtesy of the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel. The show starts at 7:45pm and lasts about 10 minutes so park yourself on the beach by the Fort Derussy Beach Park for the very best view. Oh and definitely don’t forget to bring the camera!
Notes: If you feel like splurging, you can purchase a pool-side seat to the Hilton’s Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Revue for $20 each. The show, including a tribute to surfer Duke Kahanamoku and hula performances, starts at 7pm every Friday and ends with the fireworks display.
5. Get your surfer vibe on while exploring historic Haleiwa town on the North Shore
6. Take a drive along the Windward Coast
And stop at all the beaches along the way! The beautiful turquoise water and bright ocean breezes will take your breath away. Keep an eye out for the Halona Blowhole Lookout and Mokolii Island, also known as the Chinaman’s Hat As a bonus, take a picnic lunch with you on your drive and make a day out of it!
Open every day (except Tuesday) from 6am to 6/7pm.
8. Check out the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
9. Spend the day at Waimea Bay
In the summer, this is the perfect place to take a swim in the clear waters or jump off the world-famous Jumping Cliff. In the winter months though, the Bay completely changes and it becomes a surfer’s dream.
10. Hike to the Ka’ena Point State Park and watch albatross and monk seals
Festivals & Special Events
Duke’s Ocean Fest (August 22nd to 30th 2015)
OceanFest events include Longboard Surfing, Paddleboard Racing, Swimming, Beach Volleyball, and more. This festival is held in honor of Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer and surfer.
Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing (3-event Competition) November 12th to December 20th 2015
Not on the island during these dates? Check out this calendar for surfing competitions and
events throughout the year!
Aloha Festival events scheduled throughout the month of September
+ Sept. 5 – Opening Ceremony
+ Sept 19 – 63rd Annual Waikiki Hoolaulea
+ Sept 26 – 69th Annual Floral Parade
Memorial Day Lantern Floating Ceremony
The Lantern Floating Ceremony is held annually over Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park. The ceremony honors loved ones who have passed away.
Turtle Bay Fabled 4th of July at North Shore
Honolulu City Lights Parade and Tree Lighting (December 5, 2015)
Christmas in Paradise? Yes please!!
Well there you have it! Not going to lie, I discovered some things to add to our Hawaii bucket list while writing this post!!
Hawaii friends, is there anything I’ve missed? Have you ever been to one of these attractions?