Free things to do in Waikiki

Waikiki is such a fantastic and vibrant district in Honolulu and fun to explore. The area is compact and walkable with so many attractions and places to visit. The downside is that everything costs an arm and a leg to get to do the fun things.  But, If I told you there are some cool and free things to do in Waikiki that won’t break the bank, wouldn’t you opt for these ideas first?

Check out the fun, fabulous and free things you can do in Waikiki and some of the surrounding areas around Honolulu below, you’ll love it. And, book mark this post, I’m sure you’ll want to reference it for a future visit to Waikiki and Oahu in general.

Free things to do in Waikiki (Fun, Fabulous and totally free!)
Free things to do in Waikiki (Fun, Fabulous and totally free!)

Free things to do in Waikiki (Fun, Fabulous and totally free!)

Waikiki is the heart of the tourist district and there are so many fun and free things that are sponsored by the local tourism bureau and various other hospitality groups, hotels and shopping venues. You’ll enjoy many of these wonderful experiences not only because they are free, but the entertainment and experience is of good value and fun for the entire family.

Just beach it on Waikiki

Just beach it on Waikiki

Did you know that Waikiki is actually a string of 7 beaches that starts at the Hilton Hawaiian Village all the way to the outskirts around Kapiolani Park? You can park it in the heart of Kuhio beach for all the sun and action or choose more remote locations of Waikiki like San Souci or the Outrigger Canoe Beach Club.

Grab your beach chair and find a spot, stroll the over 3 miles of beach or even do the walking pave oceanfront promenade and you’ll enjoy your beach time in Waikiki.

Park time at Kapiolani

Park time at Kapiolani

The large park area fronting Diamond head was once private lands owned by royalty who deeded it for the public to enjoy and created Kapiolani park. If you’re inclined, you can hike up to Diamond Head, explore the beach areas like Queens beach and San Souci, play pick up volleyball or just relax find a spot with a great view, picnic and enjoy the endless views from the park.

One of the things to do in Waikiki without a car, you can walk all around Kapiolani park and enjoy all the outdoor activities that you can do on your own or find a pick up sports game in the area.

Friday Night Fireworks

Friday Night Fireworks

If you knew you could watch fireworks on the beach in Waikiki every Friday would you go? Yes of course, it is a great show and free and sponsored by the Hilton Hawaiian Village every Friday night around 7:45 pm. One of the free things to do in Waikiki at night and right on the beach is quite spectacular to experience.

The impressive show is set to music and has a spectacular finale that’s worth the wait (just get there a little early so you can find an easy spot on the beach to hang out)

Afterwards, a nice walk on the beach with the lit up skyline and starry nights is the best way to end a day here in Waikiki.

Check out the blue lagoon

Check out the blue lagoon

The Duke Kahanamoku lagoon fronts the Hilton Hawaiian Village and has fresh saltwater pumped into it daily to keep it fresh. A favorite spot with locals and visitors that happen to see it, it is a fun hang out spot with beach and grassy areas. You can picnic, swim or do some fun selfies around this huge lagoon for everyone to enjoy.

The Lagoon area and beach around the Hilton Hawaiian Village is not as busy compared to the areas of Waikiki Beach and there’s actually parking closeby that you can get for free with a short walk to the lagoon area.

Ditch the luau with free entertainment in Waikiki

Ditch the luau with free entertainment in Waikiki

Did you know there’s so many free entertainment venues you can see in Waikiki? Sponsored by the tourism office and several hotels and centers, there’s a lot of freebies when it comes to entertainment and events.

This is the alternative to a free luau in Waikiki experience that definitely won’t cost a dime and is well organized and entertaining.

Here’s some of the free ones to check out below:

Kuhio Beach Hula Show

This is almost like watching a luau event, but you just bring your own picnic and beverages. Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays, the show starts quickly with a torch lighting ceremony and conch shell blowing with live music and hula entertainment, comedy and a changing rotation of performers.

The free one hour show starts around 6:30 to 7:30 pm and changes to 6 to 7pm in the winter season. Head out to Kuhio Beach right by the huge Banyan tree and look for the crowds, or better get there early for the best viewing spots.

International Market Hula Show

Located at the International Market, the show starts with a procession of Queen Emma and goes to the Queen’s court. This is followed with a free Polynesian performance of Hawaiian and Tahitian dancing styles. The show starts daily at twilight.

Royal Grove Hula Show

Located at the Royal Hawaiian Center, you’ll find a variety of local musicians entertaining visitors with live music and also a free hula show. Go to the Royal Grove area and the daily show is on Monday to Friday and starts from 6-7 pm. They also offer free ukulele classes, lauhala weaving, and lei making.

Check out their free activities calendar here for more updates on the good and free stuff to do.

Kani Ka Pila

Located at the Outrigger Hotel, a free performance of local popular musicians and sometimes followed by hula dancers. You can watch the performers outside of the pool/bar area or for the price of a tasty and refreshing tropical cocktail, get more up close to the stage area and enjoy some amazing talent with very popular musicians from the island.

Here’s a look at the Kuhio hula show at Waikiki Beach below

Sunset time to chill out

Sunset time to chill out

Sunset on the beach in Waikiki, sounds like a cool song right? Well, that’s why everyone loves sunset on the beach here. Just do a nice picnic with your favorite food and beverages and find any of the seven beach parks, the large Kapiolani park area and a great view of Waikiki Beach and your set.

Relax, chill and enjoy the people watching, views of the bay and a gorgeous sunset to boot. It’s the best way to end your day here in Waikiki.

Bring over a nice picnic with your favorite appetizers or take out food and you’ll save even more from a pricy dinner in Waikiki. (Although we do recommend a nice dinner splurge or a few so you’ll treasure your vacation even more in Oahu)

Staying fit in Waikiki

Staying fit in Waikiki

If you’re into active sports, there’s a lot to do for free activity wise. Pick up volley ball, running along the beach or walking promenade areas, pick up soccer at Kapiolani, tennis courts or strolling the beach areas.

Check out these park areas for fitness activities and events you can join or do on your own.

Kapiolani Park

Fort deRussy Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park

Diamond Head Tennis Center

Water activities

For cheap, you can rent out kayaks, SUP boards or surf boards from any of the surf shacks on the beach for more water fun activities. You can even bargain with the beach boys for early evening to night rentals when the beach goers leave and they need to drum up more business end of day.

Self tour of Historic Waikiki walking trail

Self tour of Historic Waikiki walking trail

You can easily do a self tour of the historic aspects of Waikiki’s past that begins at Kapiolani park and then ends at Kalakaua Park. Along the way you’ll see highlights like bronze sculptures of famous monarchs and important Hawaiians along the walk and other historic monuments or landmarks to visit along the way.

There are over 21 markers to check out on this fun self walk around Waikiki and you’ll visit important centers like the Hilton Hawaiian Village, International Marketplace and the Royal Hawaiian Center.

Check out the self tour itinerary here for information and starting your own self tour of the area.

Take a picture with the Duke

Take a picture with the Duke

Duke Kahanamoku is the celebrated Hawaiian surfer and five time Olympic swimmer (the first Hawaiian olympic medalist) is celebrated here in Waikiki with a bronze statue. It is an iconic spot to take pictures with this important figure touted as the “Father of modern day surfing”. With fresh leis adorning his neck and arms, it’s a picture perfect spot to take with Waikiki Beach in the background.

Visitors leave a lei or old lei at his feet as a tribute, but please don’t place it on the statue because it actually chips away at the bronze with the acidity of the flowers.

Now that you know the background, when you take a photo and show it off, you can also explain what this important figure is with all the flower leis draped around him.

Hike to a waterfall at Manoa

Hike to a waterfall at Manoa

Just a short drive from Waikiki to the university of Manoa and a visit to the lush tropical areas of Manoa and it’s beautiful waterfall. The hike is considered easy with about

1.7 miles out and back to the parking area. There is a parking fee of $5 for parking or you can also park on the streets and walk in, but for safety parking in the lot is better for less break ins.

Check out the details to visiting Manoa Falls here for more information.

Freebies of things to do in Honolulu, Oahu

Visit Pearl Harbor

National Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Did you know that it is actually free to visit this historic site? You can walk around but do need to reserve a spot to take the ride to the USS Arizona entry for $1 which is a steal. You can reserve on the government website here or take your chances for walk ins when you get there.

Once you make a reservation, take a screen shot of the reservation email confirmation for proof.

Hawaii State Art Museum
HIstoric downtown Honolulu in Oahu, attractions, monuments and historic buildings

Hawaii State Art Museum

Located in the historic downtown district in Honolulu. The Hawaii State Art Museum is free for visitors and houses a permanent collections and revolving showcase of Hawaiian centric cultural and historic perspectives of Hawaiian art and lifestyle. It’s a great way to see local art as it relates to something historic, local or cultural in value that affects the people living here on the islands.

Check more details to visiting the museum here for information and their calendar of events.

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

A short drive from Waikiki Area is the Makapu’u Lighthouse and the trail is the 2nd most popular hike after Diamond Head and is very easy. With paved trail all the way to the observation lookout to the lighthouse and spectacular views of the south side to east / windward coastlines.

It is a fun and easy hike and exploration of the east side of the island.

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout point

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout point

Just a short quick drive from Waikiki will get you to one of the best look out points of Oahu’s windward or east coastline. The drive takes less than five minutes from downtown and easy to stop and do a quick photo session and view of the local areas to include Kaneohe Bay, Kailua and all of the eastern side of the island.

Go Snorkeling for free around Oahu


Go Snorkeling for free

Oahu beaches and parks are all free with many having fun snorkeling areas for you to explore. The only exception to this would be Hanauma bay which is a marine preserve and admission covering all maintenance to keeping this vast bay natural and in good shape.

Check out our post of the best snorkeling places around Oahu to explore here for more information and images of the top places you can visit around the island for snorkeling fun.

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Free things to do around Waikiki

Free things to do in Waikiki
Free things to do in Waikiki

Check out these other related posts in Oahu

Best restaurants to eat in Honolulu

Waikiki Beach guide

Top things to do in Honolulu

Free or cheap things to do in Oahu

A Diamond Head Hike in Honolulu

Family friendly beaches in Oahu

Top things to do in Waikiki

Conclusion on Free things to do in Waikiki

Conclusion on Free things to do in Waikiki

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19 thoughts on “Free things to do in Waikiki”

  1. Ooh! That waterfall is so lovely! I think an area having plenty of free things to do is important, especially in Hawaii, where things can be really costly. I’d hit up the fireworks show, too!

    Reply
  2. I have often heard that Waikiki is an expensive trip, even if you get a deal on airfare from the East Coast. However, I still want to go! I’m so glad I came across your tips on free things to do here, because many of those you listed are exactly the types of activities I enjoy – like beaches, waterfalls, art museums, and history tours. Plus, it’s wonderful to hear that the tourism board and hospitality partners put on so many free events. I think my dream trip just got a LOT more affordable, thanks to you!

    Reply
  3. I have been to Oahu in Honolulu. I enjoyed some of the activities you mentioned. I remember the best garlic shrimp rice and drinking coconut near Duke Kahanamoku statue. It was an amazing experience and the food was delicious.

    I always wonder what the statue of Dune Kahnamoku is all about, but now I know. Informative post. You give me so more ideas to do and explore Oahu for the next time I visit.

    Reply
  4. When we decided to go to Hawaii, we did not realize how expensive it was going to be. So it is great to read this guide on free things to do in Waikiki. We are definitely going to plan for Friday Night Fireworks. I love that we could see several different hula shows for free. I know we will spend a lot of time outdoors and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Good to know where the best sunset point is!

    Reply
    • Yes everything adds up on a vacation to Waikiki so these free things to do in Waikiki are really a nice list of fun events and attractions to visit around the district

      Reply
  5. These free things to do in Waikiki are a steal! I didn’t realize that visiting Pearl Harbor is free and a dollar for a ride to USS Arizona is nothing! I like that the tourism office sponsors hula shows and to watch a fire show besides the 4th of July must be wonderful!

    Reply
  6. Waikiki is a great spot to explore because it has so many fun things to do. If I were to visit, my first three activities would be to explore the local beaches, attend a luau, and take a self-guided tour of Waikiki’s historical landmarks. I’m interested in seeing the local Hawaiian-centric cultural art, so I’d like to visit the Hawaii State Art Museum and also take a picture with the Duke. I am definitely going to bookmark this article!

    Reply
  7. Amazing! I haven’t been to Waikiki or the island of Oahu but we have been to some other islands. Our absolutely favourite free activity is snorkling. We will never get bored of that! But this list was so great for finding something to do. A hula show sounds so much fun and we would not miss the Pearl Harbor.

    Reply
  8. Happy to know that there are many free things to do in Waikiki. I would love to see the Friday Night Fireworks and of course watch, the hula shows. We look forward to visiting this beautiful place soon.

    Reply
  9. wow there is so much you can enjoy for free. The nu’anu look out point and hike to Manoa waterfall would be my top ones. I’d also love to see one of the hula shows alongside the many other things to do here. I’m really impressed by how much is free.

    Reply

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