101 Free* Things to Do on O'ahu

* Or under $10 per person
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Waikiki, O'ahu
Waikiki, O'ahu (Ben Sumner)

O'ahu is an affordable, family-friendly tropical destination with over a hundred things to do, see and experience for free or less than $10 per person. Discover the sights, sounds, art, culture, history, nature, and adventure of the island of O'ahu. Load up on family fun without having to unload your wallet!

Art, Culture, and History

1. Enjoy one of more than 100 festivals and events throughout the year that celebrate culture, community, music, and art, such as the Hawai'i Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese New Year lion dances, Lantern Floating Hawai'i, Waikīkī SPAM® Jam, and Roy Sakuma 'Ukulele Festival, just to name a few.

2. Visit the Hawai'i State Art Museum (HiSAM), one of the few state-sponsored art museums in the country, and view the finest collection of works from Hawai'i's best artists.

3. Learn about the history of Waikīkī on the Waikīkī Historic Trail walking tour.

4. Explore Hawai'i's maritime history, from voyaging canoes to the Matson steamships, at the Hawai'i Maritime Center.*

5. Visit "Hyatt's Hawai'i" at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa to see displays of Hawaiian arts, crafts and memorabilia.

6. Discover the history of surfing through photos and memorabilia on the walls of Duke's Waikiki at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach.

7. Walk through Chinatown for a fascinating look at noodle factories, herbal shops, markets, and gift shops, or take a guided walking tour hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

8. Attend one of the many arts and craft fairs held at Thomas Square, Kapi'olani Park and Ala Moana Beach Park.

9. Witness the culture and beauty of the islands as you watch a traditional torch lighting and hula performance on the beach of Waikīkī near the Duke Kahanamoku statue at sunset.

10. Stop in at the lei stands that line Maunakea Street in Honolulu's Chinatown and see firsthand how these intricate lei are created.

11. Explore the history of Waikīkī on a historical tour of the Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort. You'll see old pictures and collectibles lining the lobby of Waikīkī's oldest hotel, dating back to 1901.

12. Learn about Princess Ka'iluani, Hawai'i's last and most beloved Princess, on the Princess Ka'iulani historical tour at Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel.

13. Stroll along the new Waikiki Beach Walk and stop in Mana Hawai'i – Spirit of Hawai'i Nei, which features authentic art and crafts produced in Hawai'i. Local artists and cultural practioners are often on-site for demonstrations including ukulele classes, lomi lomi massage and lauhala weaving.

14. Experience the tranquility of the Valley of the Temples and watch the peacocks show off their colors.

15. Take a scenic drive over the Pali Highway stopping at the historic site with panoramic views at the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout.

16. Visit the ancient fishponds in He'eia and Kahalu'u on the windward side.

17. Travel around the world through the diverse art exhibits at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.*

18. Walk through the Mission Houses Museum to see how the first missionaries lived when they came to Hawai'i.* Free printing demonstrations are offered Wednesdays at noon.

19. Learn more about taro and enjoy storytelling, music, dancing, arts and crafts, and a farmer's market at the Pacific Island Taro Festival at Windward Community College in August.

20. Visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, a monument built to honor the men who died on the USS Arizona the day before World War II began.

21. Discover the people and faces of Hawai'i and the plantation era at the Hawai'i Plantation Villages.*

22. Experience the fun and excitement of the Aloha Festivals' Downtown and Waikīkī Ho'olaule'a celebrations each fall.

23. Learn how to make traditional Hawaiian quilts and lei using fresh tropical flowers at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

24. Visit The Contemporary Museum on the third Thursday of every month for free admission.

25. Honor soldiers from the Spanish American War to the Vietnam War at the Memorial of the Pacific National Memorial Cemetery, formerly known as Punchbowl.

26. Visit the Father Damien Museum and discover the history of Kalaupapa, Moloka'i.

27. Learn about the history of pineapple in Hawai'i through the multimedia "James Dole Story" at Dole Cannery Square.

28. Ascend to the top of Aloha Tower, Honolulu Harbor's famous clock tower, which at one time was the tallest building in Honolulu.

29. Take a self-guided tour of O'ahu's historic heiau (places of worship).

30. Visit 'Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on American soil, or visit the Queen Emma Summer Palace.*

31. Visit Fort DeRussy Beach where in addition to picnic tables, volleyball courts and excellent surf, you'll find Battery Randolph Museum on the military grounds.

32. On the first Friday of every month, art galleries in downtown Honolulu open their doors from 5-9 p.m. at no charge. This event is wildly popular with art enthusiasts of all ages.

33. Find inner peace at the Byodo-In Temple, which houses a 900-foot Lotus Buddha. Be sure to ring the Peace Bell before entering the temple for happiness and longevity.

34. Visit the Mānoa Heritage Center, a beautiful site that consists of Kūka'ō'ō Heiau, a Native Hawaiian garden, and Kūali'i, a historic home. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.*

35. Take 'ukulele or hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

Published: 18 Dec 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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