If you’re staying in Waikiki, it’s easy to find lots of fun Hawaii vacation activities online or at your hotel’s concierge desk; but there’s a catch. All advertised Hawaii attractions cost money.
Believe me, I’m all about spending money and having a good time on vacation. But I’m also all about enjoying free activities when possible.
So if you are hoping to plan a cheap Hawaii vacation – without skimping on the fun – you’re in luck! Even in the most-touristy part of the island, there are plenty of free Hawaii activities for you to do and see.
There’s always free entertainment in Waikiki. Just pull up a patch of sand outside one of the many hotel beach bars and listen to some live music. Watch and/or play beach volleyball at Fort Derussy. And don’t underestimate the amusement value of people-watching in Waikiki. We get all sorts! Or try any of these…
Weekly Waikiki Fireworks Shows: Watch fireworks on the beach every Friday night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon. This never gets old!
Helumoa Light Show: Twice every night, you can watch a new 3-D mapping light show in the swimming pools and surrounding Helumoa Playground area at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.
Torch Lighting Ceremony & Free Hula Show: Look for it at the stage near the Duke Kahanamoku statue at Prince Kuhio Beach.
King’s Guard Changing Ceremony: The Hawaiian monarchy has sadly passed into history... and now the King’s Guard has too. The final performance was on May 16, 2014. Only time marches on.
Waikiki Beach: Catch some waves or some rays on perhaps the most famous pristine white sand beach in the world.
Duke Kahanamoku statue: Take a picture with Hawaii’s premier surfer, Olympic athlete, and first sheriff.
Diamond Head Crater: You can see this dormant volcano from everywhere on Oahu’s south shore. Hike to the top and see it all!
Kapiolani Park: Relax in the shade, get some exercise, or maybe even catch an event – all at the foot of Diamond Head.
Natatorium War Memorial: Closed since 1979, this seawater swimming pool was the home of Hawaii’s Olympic swimming stars – and it may yet re-open to the public one day.
International Marketplace: If you want Hawaii-themed trinkets and the famous old Waikiki welcome from Don the Beachcomber and Duke Kahanamoku, this is no longer that place. It’s a mall now.
Hilton lagoon: It’s like a hybrid between a beach and a swimming pool just below the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow Tower.
Hawaii memorabilia at the Moana Surf Rider: Stroll through the lobby of this beautiful Waikiki Beach hotel and check out several cases of collectibles.
Army Museum of Hawaii: The old Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy survived two World Wars and proved easier to repurpose for peace than to remove.
King’s Guard Museum: Discover the history of the King's Guard Drill Team: a ceremonial honor guard for the only royal palace in the United States!
Father Damien Museum: It’s now Saint Damien – the man who gave his life caring for those afflicted with Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) when nobody else would.
Lucoral Museum: View a private collection of jewelry, gemstones, and other unique treasures.
Wizard stones: Yeah, they look like they're just rocks. But they come with a story, and they’re just a few feet from a half-dozen other attractions. You might as well see them all!
Honolulu Festival: If you’re here in March, enjoy a full weekend of arts, entertainment, education, exercise, crafts, and culture celebrating our Asia-Pacific influences.
Waikiki Spam Jam: Only in Hawaii can you find an event dedicated to that canned meat we all love to eat! If you’re here in April, try a Spam® musubi and catch some free entertainment.
Lei Day: It’s May Day in Hawaii! Celebrate the traditional floral festival with a uniquely Hawaiian appeal.
Pan Pacific Festival: If you’re here in June, celebrate Hawaii’s unique blend of Pacific and Asian cultures with three days of hula festivals, arts and events.
Duke’s Oceanfest: If you’re here in August, thrill to eight days of water sports celebrating the life of Hawaii’s ambassador of aloha – the greatest waterman who ever lived!
Aloha Festivals: If you’re here in September, witness a cultural reenactment of Hawaii’s royal court and attend celebrations in their honor.
Gingerbread village: If you’re here in December, check out the creative confections filling half of the lobby at the Sheraton Kaiulani Hotel.
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