If you’re planning your first Hawaii vacation on Oahu, chances are that you will end up in Waikiki sooner or later.
And with the majority of the best hotels on Oahu being located right near Waikiki Beach, you may even be highly considering staying in Waikiki.
But even if you’ve spent a lot on your accommodation in Waikiki, or if you’ve decided to save money on accommodation on Oahu, your Waikiki activities don’t have to be expensive!
There are plenty of things to do in Waikiki that are cheap… or even FREE!
What are the best things to do in Waikiki that are cheap or free?!
Below is a list of 12 cheap things to do near Waikiki Beach, with most of these things being free.
If you'll be snorkeling on your next vacation, consider wearing these types of UV swim shirts. Also see about what to pack for Hawaii for hiking, snorkeling, and more essentials! And for Hawaii vacation ideas, see the best things to do in Oahu that will give you Hawaii vibes!
1. Chillax on the beach
Nearly ALL of the beaches on Oahu are FREE!
What’s the exception, and what beach is NOT free to visit on Oahu?! That would be one of the best beaches on Oahu for snorkeling.
But the beach that’s not free on Oahu is not in Waikiki.
This means that all the beach access in Waikiki is free. So head to the beach anywhere in Waikiki and you’re looking at a free beach.
You can go to a more kid-friendly part of the beach, swim in a lagoon, go snorkeling with tropical fish, try to spot turtles, or go for a picnic at the park right off the beach.
With Waikiki Beach being 2 miles long, you’ve got a few places to choose in Waikiki!
2. Snorkeling with colorful tropical fish (and maybe some turtles)
Waikiki is home to one of 3 marine life conservation districts on Oahu.
What does that mean?
Aside from being a protected area for fish and turtles, it means that there ARE fish and turtles to be seen here!
What you actually see may depend on your luck, but it makes it a good spot to test that luck!
The marine life conservation district is on the far end of Waikiki Beach, on the opposite side of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
That would be this area of Waikiki that’s the best for snorkeling. It’s also a good area to set up for a picnic too!
The snorkeling is free, but this activity does require you to have your own snorkeling gear.
Make sure you have these snorkeling things when you’re going snorkeling in Waikiki.
And, if snorkeling in Waikiki is one of the top activities you’re looking forward to, you’ll want to keep these dates in mind.
This is the WORST time to go snorkeling in Waikiki… because surely you don’t want to risk being stung by jellyfish! It’s basically a monthly affair for jellyfish to be a bother on Waikiki Beach. But, the good news is that it’s generally predictable.
3. Hiking to get the best views of Waikiki
Hawaii is all about seeing stunning views, and you will get plenty of that just by being in Waikiki!
And if you want even MORE stunning views, a hike can be a perfect way to achieve that!
There aren’t any hikes in Waikiki itself, but just a short distance away is the Diamond Head Hike.
The Diamond Head crater is just a short distance from Waikiki. It’s a 10 minute bus ride using Oahu’s convenient bus system.
It’s also reasonable to walk there from Waikiki if you’re feeling like you want to get in a little more activity!
The trail is also an uphill climb.
Since it’s near Waikiki and an uphill trail, this means that once you reach the summit of the Diamond Head Hike you will be rewarded with stunning views of Waikiki Beach and downtown Honolulu!
…along with those views of the ocean much of the way too!
This hike is one of the most popular hikes on Oahu, which means you’ll find people wearing all kinds of things when they do this trail.
But here’s why you DON’T want to wear flip flops on this hike… and really all hikes on Oahu in general.
4. Hawaiian hula show
You’re in Hawaii, home to a unique culture that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States.
So, why not experience a little bit of that Hawaiian culture when you’re in Hawaii?!
There is a convenient Hawaiian cultural show located right in Waikiki. On top of that, it’s a perfect setting since it’s located right on the beach!
The show will start off with a torch lighting ceremony.
And then from there, you’ll see the traditional Hawaiian dance, along with music and entertainment.
And if you’re looking to experience some more Hawaiian culture on Oahu, you can check out a heiau (also free) and the kid-friendly Polynesian Cultural Center (this is on the expensive side but can be worth it).
5. Walk along Waikiki Beach
With Waikiki Beach being 2 miles long, it makes for the perfect place for a beach walk!
You can walk nearly the entire length from one end to the other without interruption.
There will be spots you can walk right on the beach, and there will also be spots that you can walk on the sidewalk and be directly along the ocean.
The section in front of the Sheraton with the boardwalk has also been known to be closed if the waves are rough.
But making a detour around this section (or any other section that may be closed) isn’t really a big deal since you can most likely easily find your way around to resume your walk right along Waikiki Beach.
See more about the things to do in Waikiki for the best views!
6. Friday night fireworks
Every Friday night, the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a fireworks display.
Since this resort that’s perfect for families is right on Waikiki Beach, it means that there are spots around Waikiki that can be good for viewing the fireworks!
See more about where to watch the Waikiki fireworks.
7. Try your luck at turtle sightings in Waikiki
Being able to see turtles in Hawaii, even when you go to the best spots for turtle sightings on Oahu, has to do with a little bit of luck!
There’s a chance you can see turtles at the marine life conservation district in Waikiki, and you can also test your luck at the pier in front of the Outrigger Reef!
If you’re in the area, even if you don’t get in the water, walk on the piers in Waikiki to check if you can see any turtles!
This is the pier in front of the Outrigger Reef Hotel…
And this is the pier at Waikiki’s marine life conservation district…
Here’s the best spot for turtle sightings on the North Shore of Oahu, also known as Turtle Beach!
8. Picnic at the park
Cost: Cheap groceries
If you’re staying at an airbnb on Oahu to save money on your Hawaii vacation, there’s a good chance there’s a grocery store nearby.
Getting groceries is a great way to save money on Oahu!
And you can make your food experience even better by taking it to go and eating with views of the ocean – without the premium (i.e. – high cost!) of eating at an oceanside restaurant!
Right near that best snorkeling spot in Waikiki is a park. This park can be the perfect place to have your picnic food that you bring along!
Or, if you don’t want to bother with the grocery store, there’s also a small food eatery here that you can also make purchases at and still eat at the park!
If you’re lucky, there will be a local or two playing a Hawaiian musical instrument so you can get Hawaiian entertainment for free too!
9. Bike along the coast
You don’t have to be super fit to enjoy this activity in Waikiki!
With the recent introduction of bike sharing on Oahu, this means that renting a bike in Waikiki is convenient and easy!
There are bike rental stations lined up all around Waikiki.
So rent a bike and head for a ride along the coast!
Bike rental prices start with a minimum rental time of 30 minutes.
And if you’re into slightly longer bike rides, here are some ideas of where to bike on Oahu starting from Waikiki.
10. Honor a Hawaiian legend and Olympic swimmer
Another very Hawaiian activity that you can do is take a visit to the Duke Kahanamoku statue.
Duke was a bit of an icon in Hawaii, and the statue to remember him is located in a convenient part of Waikiki.
If you’re walking around Waikiki, there’s a good chance you’ll pass by it.
And after reading this, you’ll know what the statue is about when you see it!
11. Go for a morning coastal run
Similar to the beach walk, a run in Waikiki can feel like the perfect run!
Early in the morning can be the best time to go for your morning coastal run.
Not only will you get slightly cooler temperatures, but less people will be out and about in Waikiki.
This means you can have a slightly more peaceful experience too!
12. Watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach
And then of course…
Sunsets are FREE! So be sure to be outside at the right time!
This is a perfect time to go for a walk or run too!
A sunset run or sunset walk on Waikiki Beach sounds like a PERFECT evening!
Walking around Waikiki during the day isn’t so bad either! 😉
If you’re going to Hawaii as a couple, get your matching very Hawaiian outfits. 😉
HAPPY WAIKIKI PLANNING!
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- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see more about the best shoes for hiking in Hawaii.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.
Swimwear for snorkeling and beach- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- What to wear hiking
- What to wear snorkeling