Visiting Hawaii isn’t cheap, especially if you’ve traveled for hours on end. We decided to help the endured traveler with some great things you can visit/do on Oahu that’s simply free! Save a little extra and get the most out of your trip when visiting these free things:
1. Free Hula Show at Waikiki
If it’s your first time visiting Oahu, Waikiki Strip has all your wants, needs and activities. Like any major tourist city, Waikiki has many street performers to entertain you. If you stay long enough (after the sunset), you may observe a traditional torch lighting ceremony and Hula show at Kuhio Beach Park. Be there Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday to witness the traditional dance of the Hawaiian Culture. In fact, turn it into a full day affair! Prices will obviously be included in this tip but here’s a recommended itinerary:
– Start surfing around 3-4 P.M. (not free)
– Get some local kine grinds (eat somewhere local like L&L or the famous Duke’s restaurant).
– Watch the sunset. (free)
– Watch the hula show around 6 P.M. – 6:30 P.M. (free but only viewable on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday)
– View the famous Duke Kahanamoku Statue which is right by the Hula show.
2. Witness the USS Arizona Memorial
(Note: First 1500 people are free so be there early!)
See the historical site where America’s reason to enter World War II took place. Included in this trip is a 23-minute documentary of how tensions escalated before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the consequences thereafter. Following the documentary, visitors then board a ferry which takes them to a floating platform (over the USS Arizona Memorial). Total time is about 75 minutes.
3. Pay respects at Punchbowl – National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Continue the historic journey and visit sacred grounds. The ancient Hawaiians revered Punchbowl as sacred and now it is the final resting place for many men and woman of the United States Armed Forces. As an American, it’s only respectful to pay our dues for these brave souls – plus, it’s a famous filming location in a few movies.
4. View the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
Another very important historic site but this time, for the unification of Hawaii (as a whole). The bloodiest battle occurred on these cliffs as King Kamehameha and his forces trapped and pushed over 400 men to a 1000foott/300meter demise. This decisive battle ended up giving Kamehameha full power of Oahu. Despite its bloody history, the Pali lookout holds one of the most beautiful views looking over the East Side/Windward Side (Kaneohe, Kailua).
5. Watch the professional surfers dominate one of the biggest waves in the world
Throughout the North Shore of Oahu is surf-able beaches. Come during the winter time (officially November – April) and witness tiny humans shred across massive faces of 20-30foot/6-9 meter waves.
Not here during the big wave months? No worries! The North Shore is beautiful any time of year. Snorkel around Shark’s Cove or spend a day at Waimea Bay and jump off the famous Waimea rock.
6. Visit Ala Moana (shopping mall) for their Center stage performances
No problem with having entertainment while shopping! Ala Moana Centerstage is another great place to watch Hula Performances. There are literally hundreds of different performances and multiple throughout the day so plan your intermission from shopping accordingly to view a spectacular display of local/Hawaiian culture and much more! Here is a link to the schedule: Ala Moana Show Times.
7. Smell the fresh catches at the Honolulu Fish Auction
Watch Local Fishermen Auction off fish! Unfortunately, this is one for the early birds! It starts at 5 A.M. Fresh catches of the day are lined up fin to fin and sold off to top chefs and restaurants daily. It is a site to behold.
8. Ascend Aloha Tower
One of Oahu’s famous landmarks, the Aloha Tower, and its surrounding area is an awesome place to spend the night. Walk along the pier, go shopping and have a nice dinner. Okay, those aren’t all free but the views around the area and seeing the Aloha Tower (at one time, the tallest building in Honolulu) is totally worth it!
9. Go on a Hike
Not much to be said on this one. Oahu has many hikes for both novice and advanced hikers. With over 20 public access hikes, there is sure to be one that suits your level. We even have a few hikes we reviewed ourselves: Click here.
10. GO TO THE BEACH!
Quite obviously the most given point. How can you NOT go to at least one a beach while visiting? Maybe it’s possible but with the ocean viewable in just about every direction we can’t understand how that inner explorer in you wouldn’t want to get out and touch the sand.
Here’s a tip: Visit 2-3 beaches around the East and North sides of Oahu to accomplish two things: Sight-seeing (beautiful views) and visiting multiple beaches! Be sure to practice proper time management to see that sunset hula show in Waikiki!
Here’s a bonus:
Let’s say you can’t make it to one of these top ten or maybe we led you astray and you ended having to pay for the USS Arizona Memorial (not our fault you were late) or maybe you aren’t really a history buff and want to find something else to do:
Head over to Sheraton Village (in Waikiki) to see the firework show. It’s only held every Friday unfortunately. Bring your dinner, a blanket/towel and have a relaxing time at Kahanamoku Beach/Kahanamoku Lagoon. (walking distance from Ala Moana).