Cheap Activities in Hawaii: 20 Things to Do for Under $20

Cheap activities in Hawaii - watching the sunrise on Maui
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Cheap Activities in Hawaii: 20 Things to Do for Under $20

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, then you know that I’m all about cheap activities in Hawaii. There are lots of free outdoorsy things to do, like swimming, hiking, and chasing waterfalls. Not only are they incredible experiences, but they are usually free or very cheap.

To make it easier to enjoy Hawaii without dropping lots of money, I created a list of my favorite things to do for cheap on each island.

Now, some of the best attractions and parks in Hawaii will cost you a small entry fee to help maintain the parks. There are also several museums, breweries, and other attractions that offer admission and/or tours for a small fee. 

But if you can have a great time for less than $20, you’re vacationing right!

Read on to find out some of the best things to do for under $20 throughout the Hawaiian islands.


1. Watch Hula

You don’t need to book a luau ticket to see great hula in Hawaii. Many shopping centers and parks offer hula performances that are completely free. Here are a few of the most popular (and best!) places to see hula for free on Oahu:

  • Daily at Ala Moana Center
  • Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at International MarketPlace.
  • Sundays at Kapiolani Park
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Royal Hawaiian Center

2. Try the food trucks on the North Shore

The north shore of Oahu is lined with food trucks selling garlic shrimp, Hawaiian BBQ, acai bowls, and more. Drive along Kamehameha Highway and stop at my personal favorites: Kahuku Farms or Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Or, park at Shark’s Cove and walk around to have your pick from many different trucks. While you’re at it, get yourself some shave ice from Angel’s Ice Cream in Laie and stop at a fruit stand to try some Hawaiian fruit.

3. Visit an Art Museum

Honolulu has a great art museum that’s completely free to visit. Capitol Modern (formerly the Hawaii State Art Museum) houses an impressive collection of local art, like sculptures and paintings. Plus, there’s a rotating Artist-In-Residence program that’s fun to check out. 

A trip to the Capitol Modern is simple. It’s got a great location downtown, and it doesn’t take long to tour. Make it part of a great day exploring the unique sights of Honolulu. 

4. Tour a Historic Plantation Village

While in Hawaii, you’ll likely hear about the islands’ Plantation Days. But what does that mean? To learn about this unique time in Hawaii’s history, head to Plantation Village in Waipahu. For less than $20, you can explore the site’s many houses and structures. See real artifacts and discover stories of the people who worked in the plantations. 

There’s also a garden featuring unique plants from the workers’ home countries. It’s a great place to get out of the hustle and bustle of busier “tourist spots” while still feeling like you’re in a unique Hawaiian setting.

5. Visit Dole Plantation

The entrance to the Dole Plantation.

Dole Plantation feels very touristy, and it can often get very crowded. But it’s still a fun and cheap activity in Hawaii. You can visit the plantation at no cost. This will grant you access to some of its gardens (and see a pineapple growing!) and its gift shop. You don’t need to book a tour in order to buy a famous Dole Whip. 

But many optional activities cost less than $20. Kids will love the plantation train tour, while a self-led full garden tour is a nice cheap activity that you can do at your own pace. 


6. See the sunrise at Haleakala National Park

Though it costs $25 per car to visit Haleakala National Park, we’re including it on this list because that still puts the cost under $20 per person (unless you’re traveling alone). 

Because of its popularity, reservations are now required to drive up Haleakala for the sunrise. It will cost you $1 per vehicle to reserve your spot, plus the $25 entrance fee you’ll pay as you enter the park.

You may book a reservation up to two months in advance. Book your tickets as far in advance as possible because they tend to sell out. Make your reservation here.

While you’re there, spend some time exploring the park!

And if you can’t get a reservation for sunrise (or don’t want to wake up that early), Haleakala is still a great place to visit any time of day – especially sunset! That’s just what we love about this cheap activity in Hawaii — you can enjoy it throughout the day.

7. Visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm

Located in the upcountry region of Maui on the slopes of Haleakala is the famous Ali’i Kula Lavender farm. Admission is $3 per person, and kids 12 and under are free.

People come to the farm for its breathtaking views and beautiful walking paths. There is also a small gift shop with lavender products and local crafts. 

Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm is located in upcountry Maui, and it’s a great place to visit before or after spending time in Haleakala. 

8. Tour Maui Brewing Company

Maui Brewing Company just opened up a pub in Waikiki, and I’ve become a huge fan of their beer since going there. If you love beer, take a tour at Maui Brewing Company in Maui.

A 25-minute guided tour providing an up-close glimpse of their brewhouse, cellar, and packaging line. The tour ends with a tasting of their flagship beers. You can also stick around after to drink more beer or have a great meal at their onsite restaurant. 

Tours are $20 per person and take place at their Brewery Tasting Room in Kihei. Book your tour here.

9. Hike to ‘Iao Valley State Monument

iao needle on maui

A paved 0.6-mile walk will bring you to a gorgeous viewpoint of ʻIao Needle, an erosional feature that abruptly rises 1200 feet from the valley floor. 

Learn about the plants brought by the Hawaiians who settled in ʻIao Valley by taking a short walk through a botanical garden. This valley is rich in cultural and spiritual values and is the site of the battle of Kepaniwai, where the forces of Kamehameha I conquered the Maui army in 1790. Entry is $5 per person and parking is $10 per car. You must reserve your tickets to Iao Valley online in advance, but last-minute reservations are typically available. 

10. Drive the Road to Hana

You’ll have a hard time deciding where to pull over on Maui’s famous 64.4-mile scenic drive. You’ll pass waterfalls, gorgeous lookout points, beaches, trails, coffee houses, and farm stands. Some attractions cost money to enter, but most are free.

The roads on this trail are notoriously narrow and windy, so some people do prefer to pay for a guided tour. Hawaii Aloha Travel offers a guided tour of the Road to Hana.

Cell phone service is spotty at best, so be sure to download a map with descriptions of the attractions before you go.

As you plan for costs, you’ll want to make reservations for Waianapanapa State Park (Black Sand Beach) in advance – they’re $5 per person plus $10 per car. Twin Falls, another popular attraction that’s closer toward Paia, charges $10 per car. Most other popular waterfall swims, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks are free to visit. 

Hawaii Island (Big Island)

11. Learn about Hawaii’s natural history at the Lyman Museum

The mission of the Lyman Museum and Mission House is “to tell the story of Hawaii, its islands, and its people.” So it’s a cheap activity in Hawaii and an enriching experience.

The Lyman Museum began as the Lyman Mission House, originally built for New England missionaries David and Sarah Lyman in 1839. In 1931, the Museum was established by their descendants.

It is home to a beautiful collection of artifacts and natural history exhibits as well as special exhibitions, archives, and a gift shop. Visitors touring the two facilities can see the old Mission House and life as it was 150 years ago, as well as immersive exhibits on many aspects of Hawaiian natural history and culture.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about Hawaii’s natural history. Admission is $10 to get into both the museum and Mission House, and you must make reservations in advance.

12. Spend the day at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

It will cost you $25 to bring a car full of people here. For a family of four, that averages out to $6.25 per person. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the top attractions on the Big Island, and it’s affordable, too.

Once you are inside, you can visit any of the park’s attractions. They are all included in the admission price, so you can explore the Jagger Museum, the Sulphur Banks, Steam Vents, Thurston Lava Tube, Holei Sea Arch, and the park’s biggest attraction, Halema’uma’u Crater. 

13. Tour a Kona Coffee Farm

The weather in Kona makes for a perfect place to grow coffee. Kona Coffee only grows on the slopes of Kona, which stretches only 20 miles long.

So, I think it’s essential to visit coffee farms when you are on the Big Island. Many farms offer free tours or tours for a small fee.

To learn even more about the history of the Kona coffee region, visit The H.N. Greenwell Store Museum. Admission is $5.

14. Kayak In Kona

Kona’s beautiful waters are a great place to kayak. Full tours run over a hundred dollars (and are typically worth it!), but if you just want to spend an hour paddling around, you can rent a kayak from select oceanside locations for about $20. Or, get even more bang for your buck by renting a double kayak. 

Fair warning: You may love kayaking so much your $20 rental will inspire you to book a pricier, lengthier excursion. OR, you may just end up with sore muscles the next day (which could be the perfect chance to relax on the beach – free of charge). 

15. Visit ‘Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls is a nice little hike on Hawaii Island – and the waterfall views are amazing. This is a state park with a $5 per-person admission cost plus $10 parking fee per car. It can get pretty busy, but it’s still an enjoyable place to visit. 

Walk among lush plant life while standing before a 442-foot waterfall. Definitely a memorable place to visit, and one of our favorite cheap activities in Hawaii.


16. Taste local rum

The Koloa Rum Company offers free rum tasting in its tasting room!

Their award-winning rums are made using local ingredients, including Hawaiian cane sugar. Koloa Rum Company is the first and only licensed distillery on Kauai.

Koloa Rum Tasting Room is located at the historic Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. Tastings are offered Monday through Saturday, every hour beginning at 10 a.m. 

You’ll need to make a reservation online, which costs $5 per group. We think the reservation system is worth the small fee since it keeps you from having to wait as long for a tasting (or miss out on it altogether on a busy day). Plus, it’s still a great cheap activity in Hawaii.

17. See “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”

waimea canyon

Waimea Canyon is truly a sight to behold. Take a scenic drive to this Kauai state park to gaze over the expansive canyon, so large it’s been called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”

The park has lots of great hiking trails, scenic lookouts, and interesting plant life. It costs $5 per person plus $10 per car. That admission price covers entry into Waimea Canyon State Park AND Kokee State Park. 

18. Take a ride on a train through a plantation

This tour draws its inspiration from Kauai’s sugar era when trains carried sugarcane to the mills. Today, the Kauai Plantation Railway will take you on a 2.5-mile narrated tour around the plantation.

The train ride takes you back through history to the plantation days of Kauai and shows you how the farm works today. Much of the produce that you see along your way is used in nearby Gaylord’s restaurant.

Well, out into the heart of the plantation you will get off of the train so that you can see the farm’s animals – pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, and horses. The train even stops so you can feed the animals. 

At $22 per person, this cheap Hawaii activity is a little above our $20 threshold, but we still included it since it’s such a good tour.

19. Visit The Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge

The Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It was established in 1985 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The ocean cliffs and tall grassy slopes of a dormant volcano provide a protective breeding ground for many Hawaiian seabirds.

The coastal front also provides a haven for the endangered ‘Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua (Hawaiian monk seal), Honu (Green sea turtle), and Koholā (Humpback whale).

Admission is $10.00 per person. Children 15 and under are free. You must reserve your tickets to Kilauea Point in advance. 

20. Wander around the Hanapepe Friday Night Festival and Art Walk

Every Friday evening, Hanapepe comes alive. During their Friday Night Festival and Art Walk, there is a huge variety of shopping. Local crafters, several excellent restaurants, and a dozen art galleries all come out. There is also live music and entertainment. 

There is something for everyone here. Admission is free. You could end up spending more than $20 here, but you could also spend less, depending on what you want to eat and buy!