Vacation can be expensive. But Waikiki has many free activities, hula shows, and stretches of beach. Make sure to read all the Best of Oahu posts before visiting the islands for even more Hawaii vacation ideas.
Looking for cheap Hawaii vacation ideas? We can do you one better. Even though itʻs famous for being expensive, Waikiki has so many great free activities. Of course, there is the beautiful ocean and stretches of beach. But this town has so much more than that. There are free hula shows, lei making lessons, museums, and even a historical trail. You simply have to know where to look.
The best thing about Hawaii is the people
Aloha is always free. It canʻt be bought or sold, and you either have it or you should try to find it. In Hawaii, itʻs actually a law. But itʻs pretty much impossible to define, especially in a blog post for a tour Company. While many people say itʻs gone from Waikiki, we live here and strongly disagree. Although, sometimes you have to look a little harder. Even if you canʻt find that in the moment, you can always find entertainment.
Entertainers on (and off) Kalakaua Avenue
One of the things this town is famous for is the street performers, artists, vendors, and general characters on the main drag. There are plenty of cafeʻs and restaurants with outdoor seating to watch the show.
Donʻt forget about the surfers. Even though the North Shore is the most famous for that, we have our fair share down here. World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalists grew up surfing these waves.
Beaches, hikes, and free Waikiki activities
We know, get to the beach. Some of you will never make it much further than that and will be completely delighted. Since this post is about free Waikiki activities, weʻll skip the surf lessons, but you shouldnʻt. On the other hand, at the sand bar in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, you can body surf pretty often. The area nearby is often called Turtle Canyon, and for good reason.
Several great spots close to the resorts
Then, assuming you brought a snorkel or goggles, there are some excellent spots nearby. But if you forgot yours, you can rent some. For those preferring to keep their feet on the ground, the mountains arenʻt far.
As of now, Manoa Falls is still free for visitors. However, they do charge for parking. It is walkable from the resorts, but itʻll probably take significantly longer than the hike. On the other hand, the Diamond Head hike does have a fee.
Farmer’s Markets and Parks near Waikiki
Itʻs true. By the time you leave, a farmers market is rarely free. But they generally donʻt charge admissions. If you love farm-to-table and homestyle cooking, thereʻs a farmers market in or near the resort district virtually every day of the week. So thereʻs basically no need for resort food. Unless, of course, the mood strikes. There are almost as many parks as activities near town, which often host festivals.
Kapiolani and Ala Moana Beach Parks
These two parks are favorites for both locals and visitors. King Kalakaua gave the citizens the area near Diamond Head as a park in honor of his wife. Where you can still find her Statue and name today.
Ala Moana Beach Park hosts the Lantern Festival and several other unique events. There is a calm swimming area and it is typically a great place to view fireworks. No matter what time of year.
Favorite festivals, holidays and parades in Waikiki
There are way too many parades and events to name here, especially since Kapiolani Park has events nearly every week. Art in the Park on the Zoo fence each Saturday is a great souvenir spot. Our favorite event in town is the Waikiki SPAM Jam. The name says all you need to know. But the Hoolaulea is a close second, another celebration of local food and music. For those who prefer watersports, make sure to watch the Duke Ocean Festival. It might not be a professional contest, but it is serious fun.
Friday fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
Many consider Christmas in Hawaii a great vacation idea. But we truly go big for New Year’s Eve. We love fireworks on the islands. Although you donʻt have to wait for a holiday to see them.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a fireworks show every Friday night. Make sure to get to the beach early for a good seat. There is going to be a crowd. Just a heads up, you canʻt see them from the Kuhio Beach part of town, so plan accordingly.
Free Hula Shows in Waikiki to experience
One of the most popular activities for visitors to Waikiki is a luau. But if you are trying to save money, or maybe have already been, there are several places to watch a free hula show. Between the Duke Kahanamoku and Prince Kuhio Statues, you can find the hula mound. If you are visiting on a Tuesday, Saturday or the last Sunday of each month, donʻt forget to make your way down for a sunset and show. Not to mention the one in the International Marketplace. Which also has weekly farmers markets.
Learn traditional Hawaiian dances
You can do more than just watch. Head down to the Cultural Center at Helumoa every Tuesday and learn how to hula. Quite a few hotels offer this free for their guests, so make sure to check when you are making the reservation.
Several weekly shows and classes on Lewers Street at the Waikiki Beach Walk. You will want to reserve lessons in advance. But those arenʻt the only vacation ideas we have for you.
Other free Waikiki cultural activities
For those of us with two left feet but wanting to get a little hands-on, we have some more vacation ideas for you. Most of the places we have mentioned also offer ukulele lessons, lauhala weaving, and more. You can even take a lomilomi massage class. Some of these may only be free for guests of that hotel so make sure to check in advance.
Lei making lessons for hotel guests
The Royal Hawaiian Center is one of the places that offer free lei-making lessons. While they start on Friday at noon, there are a limited number of spots and they donʻt take reservations.
The Outrigger Reef also offers complimentary cultural activities. You can learn a variety of lei-making techniques and many other traditional crafts. The entire family is sure to enjoy these experiences.
More culture and history vacation ideas
Apart from the Royal Hawaiian Cultural Center there is also a smaller one at the Hyatt Regency. These are great resources to learn a little more about these islands. The Moana Surfrider also offers a free historical tour of the hotel. Apart from those vacation ideas, there are also a couple of free museums in town as well.
Free museums in Waikiki
The U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii, located in Fort DeRussy, is open to the public without charge. Inside you will even find a display about Hawaiian Warriors. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Not only that, but St. Augustine by the Sea has a free educational center. There you can learn more about Father Damien, one of two Hawaii Saints and Kalaupapa on Molokai.
Free Historic Trail to learn about Hawaii
If youʻve read more than one article from the Things to Do in Oahu Blog, you already know this is one of our favorite free activities. Even if you donʻt set out intentionally with this in mind, as you walk through Waikiki make sure to keep your eyes out for the surfboard markers and plaques on the statues. There are so many great stories to learn, not to mention the views. Plus, they just updated their website to make it easier to use.
25 different locations to explore
From Kapiolani Park to the Convention Center and everywhere in between. Hear stories ranging from Queen Liliuokalani to Elvis Presley. Learn about ancient Chiefs as well as famous Monarchs.
There is information about landowners, hotels, and the military along the route. But for those who want to get the most out of their time, we have something special for you.
Activities to enhance the Waikiki Historic Trail
We have partnered with VoiceMap and our favorite local tour guides to create Audio Tour Hawaii. It has GPS-guided routes that share stories, recommendations, and directions. So you can put in some headphones, slip your phone in your pocket, and explore on foot. There is so much information we actually had to break it up into two walks, featuring distinctly different experiences.
Part 1 of the Waikiki Walking Tour focuses on the Monarchs and Chiefs of Hawaii. It takes you through the area where most of them used to live and where Kamehameha camped with his warriors. This route explores the Diamond Head side of town.
The Military and Contemporary History Tour takes you on the other side of town. You will walk through Fort DeRussey Park, along the beach, by the Convention Center, and back to the Brothers in Valor Memorial.
Tours to Escape Waikiki or visit it for the day
If you are staying in Turtle Bay on the North Shore, or Koolina out West you have to head for town at least once. Parking can be a bit of a hassle, but typically the zoo side is the easiest for free parking. Otherwise, you are better off on the Ala Moana side. For those who donʻt want to walk, itʻs best to bite the bullet and just pay for parking. However, weʻd love to show you around. Then you donʻt have to worry about any of that.
100% Custom and Private Tours of Oahu, Hawaii
Whether you want to tour Waikiki or escape it for the day, Your Private Tours of Oahu, Hawaii are a great option. Everything we do is 100% custom and we only take one group at a time.
This gives you a tailored experience, perfect for your family vacation. We are rated 5 stars across the board, absolutely love what we do, and think you will as well.
Easy flat rate and competitive group pricing allow your family to get the most out of their time on the island. But no matter what you decide to do, we hope you enjoy your vacation.
Published by Halia Tours and Transportation | Private Tours Oahu Hawaii
Every tour 100% Custom and Private Tours of Oahu, Hawaii. Choose from places like Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Dole Plantation, North Shore, and more. We can take you virtually anywhere that is safe, legal, and not in a neighborhood.
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