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Oahu Activities You Can Do, for Free!

1.14-Lanikai

We know there is a price to paradise. From the airfare to hotel to rental cars, it’s not always cheap to soak in the beauty that the Hawaiian Islands have to offer. But because a trip to paradise is worth every penny there are a number of things you can do that won’t cost a dime or dollar, and still allow you to enjoy the magic and splendor that is Hawaii.

The trick is to work in the freebie fun – like a hike one day and a trek to the North Shore the next – in between the activities you absolutely want to do. That saves you some Uncle Sam’s to splurge on a luau or even a day trip to a neighbor island.

Here are four free Hawaii activities that won’t break the bank. And maybe you’ll even save enough for another trip back to the islands (*wink*)?!

#1: Take a Hike.

Work off those extra vacation calories (because who could say no to that second helping of lau lau) while taking in the breathtaking splendor that the islands are known for. There are a handful of hikes to choose from but one of our favorites is the Lanikai Pillbox hike in Kailua, which takes outdoor enthusiasts on a one to three hour trek up and around the pillboxes that dot Lanikai’s cliffs.

Brave the passing Windward showers this side of the island is known for and you’ll likely be rewarded with the odd rainbow or two. This free Oahu activity is great for families who want to get back to the aina (land in Hawaiian) and away from the hustle and bustle. All you’ll need to shell out for here is the cost to develop all your amazing photos.

#2: Peer over the Pali.

If you find yourself venturing into Nu’uanu Valley plan a visit to the Pali Lookout. This popular state park off the Pali Highway will whisk you off your feet (quite literally) with sweeping views of the Ko’olau mountain ranges and Oahu’s windward coast. In Hawaiian “pali” translates to “cliff” and this island ridge offers more than just a pretty view. The Pali Lookout also has a dark side, playing a role as the site of the historical 1795 Battle of Nu’uanu.

Make sure to pack an extra jacket and leave all loose accessories safely in the car, as the gusty outpost has been known to pack winds up to 50 miles per hour. The lookout is open daily during daylight hours and is free to all visitors though there is a minimal $3 fee for parking. But if you bring along a friendly kama’aina (Hawaii resident) parking is free!

*Photo Credit: Neal Kido

#3: Honi a Honu.

Get up close and personal with the natives — the gentle giants of Hawaii’s waters, the Hawaiian green sea turtle (known as honu in Hawaiian). An aquatic celebrity amongst visitors and locals alike, one of the best beaches to spot these shelled souls is Laniakea Beach, off Kamehameha Highway.

Because the green sea turtle is an endangered species it is against the law to get too close to – or touch – the turtles. But don’t let that get you down. A few hours on a beautiful North Shore beach and some unforgettable snaps of sunning turtles are nothing to sneeze at.

Read more about honu and Laniakea Beach in our previous blog post.

#4: Immerse Yourself in History.

Multitask. Take the day to take in some history and save some money. You can literally spend the entire day soaking in the stories of the USS Arizona, the final resting place for 1,102 sailors killed in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The memorial is free for visitors and offers extra credit for students and visitors of any age – the chance to experience a part of American history.

The 184-foot memorial drifts above the sunken battle ship and includes three sections: the entry room; a central area for ceremonies and general observation; and a shrine room where guests can view the names of those killed on the USS Arizona engraved on the memorial’s marble walls. The center of the memorial features an opening in the floor, which looks down onto the sunken ship.

The memorial is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1). Programs to the USS Arizona Memorial run from 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. daily. Read more about the USS Arizona in our previous blog post.

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