The best things in life – and in Hawaii – are free. Watching the changing colors as the sun dips below the ocean, swimming in the crystal-clear waters, and having a lazy day on the beach are among my favorite things do here. And they are all free things to do on Oahu.
Unfortunately, getting here, staying here, and eating here comes at a price. But here at Hawaii Aloha Travel, we aim to help you get the best bang for your buck while also offering you the best experience possible.
The Best Things in Life are Free!
Sure, some things do cost money, but you can offset these things with several free activities to keep your budget in check. Because all of us here at Hawaii Aloha Travel live in Hawaii, we know what the best things to do are. And because we also like to save money, we’re always looking for the best free things to do. That’s why we created our Oahu Super Saver All Inclusive Vacation Pacakage – so that you can experience all of the best things that Oahu has to offer at a reasonable price that can’t be beat.
So, when you want to go beyond the beach and the waves, check out some of these free things to do on Oahu. They truly are the best things in life!
- Pay Your Respect at Pearl Harbor – Did you know that The USS Arizona Memorial hands out 1,300 free tickets daily? For your best chances of getting one, come as soon as the park opens at 7:00 am. These tickets are given out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each ticket is assigned a time, and the program runs every 15 minutes. And plenty of things to do while you wait – all for free. You can visit the Exhibit Galleries, “Road to War” and “Attack, view the Interpretive Wayside Exhibits around the park, and walk through the Remembrance Circle, which pays tribute to the men, women, and children, both military and civilian, who were killed on December 7, 1941. To get into the park right away, do not bring any bags or purses. You will not be allowed into the park with one, so you will waste time getting to a locker or putting it back into your car.
- Picnic at Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden -The Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe is one of Oahu’s best-kept secrets. This garden has everything from a small art gallery to fishing programs. The word Hoʻomaluhia means “to make a place of peace and tranquility,” and Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens truly is a place of peace and tranquility. When you arrive, go to the visitor’s center to get a map and talk to the volunteers about the different trails. Because the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden is a bit off the beaten path, it’s usually quiet. The botanical garden has a variety of plants, including cacao, allspice, lipstick plants, heliconias, and more. A lovely picnic area with a damn and mountains in the background makes for a peaceful afternoon.
- Wander Around the Hawaii State Art Museum – The Hawaii State Art Museum is always free for everyone. The mission of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts is to promote, perpetuate, preserve and encourage culture and the arts as central to the quality of life of the people of Hawaii. The museum itself is pretty small, so you could probably see all of it in an hour or two. But, the Hawaii State Art Museum also has several free events that are open to the public. Galleries and museums, including the Hawaii State Art Museum, are open for the event, which is free to the public. The Hawaii State Art Museum also hosts several Art Lunches, where you get to meet local artists. For a calendar of all of the museum’s events, click here.
- Watch Hula – Several venues in Waikīkī offer live performances that showcase Hawaiian culture, including traditional hula dancing and music. These hula and music presentations are available to the public at no cost, thanks to the hosts’ kindness. As these events tend to be quite popular, arriving early for prime seating is advisable. You can experience Hula every day, Center stage at Ala Moan Center Daily at 5PM and every Sunday at 1 p.m. for Keiki (kids) Hula. At Kuhio Beach Hula Mound, you can enjoy free Hula year-round Tuesdays & Saturdays, 6:30-7:30pm (Feb-Oct) & 6-7pm (Nov-Jan). The International Marketplace provides a free Hula Show on, Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, 7pm (Mar-Aug) & 6:30pm (Sep-Feb)
- See Fireworks – Every Friday at 7:45 pm, the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on its fireworks show. Although the fireworks is a finale for one of their resort shows, anyone can see the fireworks! Since all beaches in Hawaii are free and open to the public, you can bring a towel, sit on the beach, and watch for free.
Pro Tip: Walking along Waikiki beach at night is a favorite thing to do in Waikiki. The lights from the city keep the beach illuminated, but it’s quieter, cooler, and less crowded than during the day. Going on a walk on the beach after a nice dinner in Waikiki.
- Hike the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail – Some hiking trails on Oahu cost money to park at or enter. But the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is always free. This trail was recently renovated and it completely paved, with a number of lookout points along the way. The parking can be tricky because this hike has gotten so popular. I highly recommend going early in the morning to beat the crowds and the sun. The trail is short but steep in parts, so take your time and enjoy the beautiful views!
There is absolutely no shade on this trail, no bathrooms, and no water fountains. Come prepared by wearing sneakers, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Carry water with you during your hike. Pro Tip: In the winter, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a great – and free – place to look for whales!
- Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – Although not as popular as some other historical sights, this is a solemn, breathtaking experience. Burial in a national cemetery is open to all armed forces members who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Punchbowl Crater was created between 75,000 and 100,000 years ago when hot lava ejected through cracks in the coral reefs. Its Hawaiian name, “Puowaina,” translates to “Hill of Sacrifice.” Although it took many years to get the funding for the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, it was important to many to have a place permanent burial site in Hawaii. The cemetery opened to the public on July 19, 1949, with services for four servicemen and war correspondent Ernie Pyle. The cemetery is open daily. Sept. 30 through March 1, it is open from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. March 2 through Sept. 29, it is open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. On Memorial Day, the cemetery is open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.