20 Best Free Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii

8 min read
The best free things to do in Oahu, Hawaii, include relaxing on the beach and hiking

Oahu is a Hawaiian island in the United States that's a favorite vacation destination for many. Oahu is home to well-known towns, like Honolulu, and there are many activities to do on the island, from visiting landmarks to surfing and hiking scenic trails.

You can also find an array of things to do in Oahu that cost nothing, including watching hula shows, visiting cultural sites, and spending the day on stunning beaches. If you are looking for activities to do on the island at no cost, check out this list of the 20 best free things to do in Oahu, Hawaii.

  • 20 things to do

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Oahu Things to Do Map

Using the map of Oahu, you can explore all the things to do.

The Duke Kahanamoku Statue commemorates a famous Hawaiian surfer. © Backyard Productions via Canva.com

View the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

The Duke Kahanamoku statue is a bronze sculpture found in Honolulu, Hawaii. This nine-foot-tall sculpture honors Olympic surfer Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, who is referred to as “The Father of Modern Surfing.”

The impressive statue is often adorned with leis, and torches around it get lit at night. Located on Kalakaua Avenue, it’s free for all to see and is a must-visit landmark.

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Taking hula lessons at Royal Hawaiian Center is a fun free thing to do. © artyooran.gmail.com via Depositphotos

Take hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center is a luxury shopping mall in Honolulu, Oahu. Along with browsing some high-end shops, there are lots of free activities at the mall.

One of these activities is hula lessons. Each week, you can join an hour-long class that will teach you this traditional Hawaiian dance. If traveling to Oahu with children, they can partake in kids-only Keiki hula lessons.

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At Royal Hawaiian Center, you can learn to play a ukulele for free. © artyooran.gmail.com via Depositphotos

Learn how to play the ukulele at Royal Hawaiian Center

Another of the free activities in Oahu, Hawaii, to partake in at the Royal Hawaiian Center is learning how to play the ukulele. You’ll spend time with a seasoned ukulele player and learn some songs on the traditional Hawaiian instrument.

During the lesson, you can also sing along to well-known songs. Learning to play the ukulele is a great skill to gain to remind you of your trip. As doing so costs nothing, it’s well worth it!

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The fireworks show at Hilton Hawaiian Village can be seen at no cost. © 1Photodiva via Canva.com

Watch fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village

Hilton Hawaiian Village is a luxury resort near Waikiki Beach. Every Friday night, the hotel hosts a free fireworks show. The show is open to everyone, not just those staying at the resort.

If you do stay at the resort, you can watch it from one of the outside areas. If not, you can see the show from various places around Waikiki Beach, all the way to Diamond Head. Watching the spectacular show is the ideal way to finish (or begin) your Friday night!

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The Ala Moana Center has many amazing shops and hosts free hula shows. © jewhyte via Depositphotos

Catch a hula show at Ala Moana Center

Ala Moana Center is a large open-air shopping mall in Honolulu next to Ala Moana Beach Park. Along with finding some amazing shops here, the mall hosts a free hula show every day.

Ala Moana’s hula show is just 20-minutes long but is well worth watching! The dancers will incorporate traditional and more modern variations of hula dance for a memorable performance. The shopping mall also hosts an array of other events, so check their calendar to see what is going on before you visit.

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Waikiki Beach is one of Hawaii's best beaches

Spend the day at Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most stunning beaches in Hawaii, that's also close to luxury resorts and hotels. The beautiful Waikiki Beach has white sand shores, crystal clear waters, and mountainous surroundings. You can even see Diamond Head on the horizon.

Spending a relaxing day at Waikiki Beach is one of the popular things to do in Oahu for free. While there, you can sunbathe, swim, surf, and more. It’s the ideal spot for a chill beach day.

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Hiking to see Manoa Falls is free, and well worth the trek. © segawa7 via Canva.com

Marvel at the stunning Manoa Falls

Located a short drive from central Oahu, Manoa Falls is a 150-foot-tall waterfall that you can visit at no cost. To get to the waterfall, you must hike a short and easy trail. This hike is through lush jungle and is a scenic and relaxing experience in itself.

Once at the falls, you can find a few more trails to follow and can, of course, appreciate the stunning natural water feature. Taking lots of pictures is highly recommended too! Swimming, however, is discouraged as the water below the falls could cause disease.

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Diamond Head State Monument is one of Oahu's most famous landmarks

Climb the Diamond Head State Monument

One of Oahu’s most famous landmarks is Diamond Head State Monument. This geological feature is a dormant volcanic tuff cone that sits proudly on the Oahu skyline.

A popular and free activity in Oahu is to climb up the Diamond Head State Monument. The trail is moderate; while it does get steep in some places, hiking the trail is achievable for most activity levels. At the top, you can take in the stunning panoramic views of the island.

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Walking around Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is scenic and relaxing. © Spondylolithesis via Canva.com

Stroll around Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in Honolulu covers 400 acres and features an array of flora and fauna. Interestingly, the gardens were constructed in 1982 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a form of flood protection.

Despite the garden’s practical beginning, today it's a much-loved attraction. When visiting, you can see a variety of tropical plants from across the world. A trip to Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden is for sure one of the best things to do on Oahu for free.

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The USS Arizona Memorial is part of the historic Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The tragedy at Pearl Harbor was one of the United States’ worst acts of war. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial commemorates those killed by the attack on Pearl Harbor and is now a naval base and National Historic Landmark. While in Oahu, visiting this North American landmark in Honolulu is a must.

There are three areas to see with no admission fee: the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. There is an admission fee for the USS Arizona Memorial, but it’s definitely worth it.

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You can get the best views of Hanauma Bay for free from Koko Head District Park

Enjoy views of Hanauma Bay at Koko Head District Park

Hanauma Bay is one more of the incredible Honolulu landmarks. However, there is an admission fee to access the marine conservation area. If you want to view Hanauma Bay for free, you can do so from certain places in Koko Head District Park.

When here, you must try the Koko Crater Railway Trail. The hike features over 1,000 stairs, and you’ll encounter incredible views all the way up. At the top of the trail, you’ll get panoramic views of Hanauma Bay and the rest of Oahu. This hike is quite challenging and may not be appropriate for all activity levels.

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Sunset Beach on the North Shore is one of the best places to surf in Oahu. © bennymarty via Canva.com

Surf at Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is located on the Oahu North Shore. It's a scenic sandy beach known for being a top big wave surfing spot. If you love to surf, this is one of the best places in Oahu to do so!

Even if you don’t want to surf, it's the perfect beach to relax on and watch those who do surf hit the waves. Sunset Beach is a little less known than popular spots like Waikiki Beach, so it’s unlikely to be overly crowded. As the name suggests, this beach is also the ideal location to watch the sunset. Of course, visiting is completely free.

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Visiting the Hawaii State Art Museum is a fun and free cultural activity

Get creative at Hawaii State Art Museum

A visit to the Hawaii State Art Museum is a great idea for a fun cultural day out in Oahu. Best of all, admission to the museum is always free.

Exhibits on display feature a range of artworks, with many by American artists. There is additionally a whole section of the museum featuring Hawaiian-themed artworks and pieces by Hawaiian artists.

If you enjoy Hawaii State Art Museum, the Honolulu Museum of Art is also free to check out every third Sunday as well.

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Kuhio Beach is a stunning Oahu beach where you can watch free hula shows. © RASimon via Canva.com

Watch a hula show at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Another great place to watch a music and hula show for free in Oahu is at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. The hula mound is close to the Duke Kahanamoku statue.

The exciting traditional performance is held right by the ocean, so you can enjoy stunning views of the coast as you watch the show. The hour-long show also opens with torch lighting and conch blowing for an authentic experience.

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Getting some pictures of the pretty Royal Hawaiian Resort is a fun free thing to do. © JanChristensen via Canva.com

Take pictures at the Royal Hawaiian Beach and Resort

The Royal Hawaiian Resort is an iconic Waikiki landmark known for its pink facade. When in the area, getting some pictures of this building is a must!

You can see the hotel from Waikiki beach, so taking some photos is one of the fun free activities in Oahu, Hawaii, to try when relaxing at the beach. Having some snaps of this renowned and pretty hotel will be a great reminder of your trip.

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Beautiful Kapiolani Park is a must-visit spot with great views of Diamond Head. © 7maru via Canva.com

Wander around Kapiolani Park

Kapiolani Regional Park is Hawaii’s largest park. It’s also the second oldest park in Hawaii. There are many attractions in Kapiolani Park, including the Honolulu Zoo. If you want to save money, however, you can simply explore the green public park.

As you wander around Kapiolani Park, you’ll get to enjoy vast open green spaces, beautiful trees and plants, and wildlife. The views of Diamond Head from here are also incredible. On Sundays, there are even free concerts in the park bandstand.

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The Halona Blowhole is a geological formation that's free to view in Oahu. © Elmar Langle via Canva.com

Visit the Halona Blowhole

The Halona Blowhole is located just off of Hanauma Bay. The landmark is a rock formation and blowhole that costs nothing to visit. When visiting, you may see geysers of water spurting out of the blowhole high up into the air.

You might even see whales from here during whale season. Halona means “lookout," and you can also take in breathtaking views of the coastline from the blowhole.

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The King Kamehameha statue is one of Hawaii's most iconic landmarks

Check out the King Kamehameha statue

The King Kamehameha statue is located outside of Honolulu’s Aliʻiōlani Hale building and opposite Iolani Palace. This historic statue is of Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I who aided in the unification of Hawaii.

Although the statue sits in Hawaii, it was constructed in Italy and shipped to Honolulu. The original was actually lost at sea, so the statue you can see is the second commissioned. Viewing this iconic statue is a must-do free activity in Oahu.

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The Polynesian Cultural Center features many free activities

Explore the Polynesian Cultural Center

Visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the best things to do in Oahu. The center honors Polynesian culture and history and hosts many interesting shows and events. There are also a few free activities at the center.

Hukilau Marketplace is open to the public six days a week and is free to look around. There are many fascinating shops, including one selling just Ukuleles. Kids can also get spray on tattoos here at no cost, and there is a Football Hall of Fame with free admission. Checking out the Polynesian Cultural Center is definitely one of the best things to do in Oahu for free.

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The Makapu'u Point Lighthouse trail offers amazing views, and you may see whales!. © m-kojot via Canva.com

Hike the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse trail

The Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail is located on the east of Oahu and is a relatively easy scenic hike. As you walk along the trail, you’ll enjoy breathtaking ocean views. You’ll also come across the quaint lighthouse that sits on the path.

Viewpoints along the hiking trail are also the ideal place to spot whales during whale season. Watching the sunrise and sunset from here is also well worth it!

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In Summary

Oahu is a bucket list destination in the beautiful state of Hawaii. When visiting, there are so many activities to try, many of which are free. From visiting Hawaiian landmarks and museums to hiking scenic trails, watching hula shows, and chilling at the beach, you can have a memorable time on Oahu without spending a penny!

Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, I've also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and travelled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. I love finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever I go!