33 Fun and Free Family Activities In Oahu

Hawaii is a vacation destination most people dream of experiencing at least once in their lives. The combination of the beautiful scenery, alluring weather, and enriching culture all contribute to making it one of the most popular family vacation destinations!

Making an itinerary for a family trip to Oahu can be hard. There are so many things to do and see, ranging from shopping to eating, and boogie-boarding to going on hiking adventures.

Whether you’re sunbathing on a beach on the North Shore or hiking Manoa Falls, here are the best free family activities in Oahu.

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Here’s a quick overview of all the useful info you need to plan an awesome trip!

  • When To Go: December through March (peak season). September to November or April to June (off-season, for equally pleasant weather and fewer crowds).
  • Nearest Airport: Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Where To StayThe Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club – it’s cute and retro, has no resort fee, AND free parking! Or we recommend Hampton Inn & Suites Oahu/Kapolei – not directly in Waikiki, but has no resort fees, free parking, AND free breakfast!
  • How to Get Around: You will need a car. We recommend using Rentalcars.com to find the best deal. Book early because rental cars in Hawaii go like hotcakes!
  • Must-Do’s: Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center, spend a whole day exploring the North Shore, and be touristy by experiencing a luau — Paradise Cove Luau is by far one of the most famous luaus on the island!
  • Before You Go: Pack your snorkel gear to avoid having to rent! And remember to pack a rain jacket — Oahu’s weather can be unpredictable, and rain is possible at any time of the year. Oh yeah, pack a beach bag too!

Best Free Family Activities In Oahu, Hawaii

1. Go shopping in the Waikiki area

Waikiki Shopping - Free Family Activities In Oahu

Exploring Waikiki on foot is a great way to get the entire family out and about on a casual stroll through town.

Because Waikiki is the main resort area of Oahu, you’re not going to find much peace and quiet here, if you’re looking to escape crowds on your vacation. However, if you thrive in bustling spots with plenty of restaurants, shopping, and bars at your fingertips, this area is the place for you.

You could pop in and out of the shops on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, head to Ala Moana Shopping Center, or visit the Don Quixote superstore (a Japanese market, like a Walmart, but with tons of pre-made Japanese / Hawaiian / Korean food as well).

Pro Tip: I highly recommend checking out Don Quixote as an alternative to Foodland or the ABC Stores if you’re looking for local goods to bring home. To save some money, buy your souvenirs, coffee beans, and snacks from Don Qui!

Take a stroll through the new International Marketplace, with stores set amongst the shade of a large banyan tree. On certain days, there can even be special events held here, including a farmers’ market and a local craft market.

For more free things to do while you’re in the Waikiki area, you and your family can take ukulele or hula lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Center.

2. See the Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Duke Kahanamoku Statue - Free Family Activities In Oahu

The Duke Kahanamoku Statue is probably the single most prominent landmark along the Waikiki waterfront.

This statue commemorates Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, the “father of modern surfing” and one of Hawaii’s most influential people. He is probably best known for having introduced surfing around the world, as it was once just a Hawaiian sport.

He demonstrated the sport of surfing not just on the mainland USA, but as far away as Australia!

In total, he also won five Olympic medals in freestyle swimming (three gold and two silver between 1912 and 1924) and was known for hitting a lot of new world records.

He is also a local hero, as he was honored for saving 8 people (by going back and forth on his surfboard) when their boat sank in Corona Del Mar, California in 1925.

3. Take the kids boogie-boarding

While in Waikiki, you’ll see a lot of boogie-boarders on the beach! If you or the kids want to try this casual sport for yourselves, go boogie-boarding at the local favorite spot in Waikiki called “The Wall“.

Alternatively, you can go boogie-boarding at Waimanalo Beach on the Windward side of the island.

4. Take a free walking tour of historic Honolulu

Iolani Palace - Downtown Honolulu Things To Do

Join Hawaii Free Tours as they take you on a short but informative walking tour around some of Hawaii’s most historically significant landmarks.

On this 75-minute walking tour, you will be led by a local guide(s) that will share the history of Hawaii as well as some of their insights on Hawaii’s modern-day culture.

You will leave the tour with a better understanding of the true spirit of aloha, having learned about Hawaiian history and about stories that have been orally passed down through generations from the ancient tribal Hawaiian times!

This tour is 100% free but gratuities to guides are highly suggested and very much appreciated.

5. Visit Chinatown

Honolulu’s Chinatown became a historic district in 1975, and in the 1980s, the City and County of Honolulu designated Chinatown as one of Oahu’s four Historic, Scenic, and Cultural Districts.

This historic neighborhood is defined by its red-brick buildings, double-hung windows, and unique overhangs above the sidewalk.

Spend an hour or so strolling through Chinatown, making sure to peek into all the noodle factories, herbal shops, grocery markets, and gift shops.

If you’d like a more guided experience, take a walking tour hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

6. Explore the arts district of Kaka‘ako

Welcome to Oahu’s newest and hippest neighborhood, the Arts District. This neighborhood, a working-class residential and warehouse district, has most recently been turned on its head.

Today, you’ll find a whole bunch of exciting new shops, art galleries, restaurants, and bars here, including the Aupuni Space warehouse gallery, South Shore Market, Fishcake, and Cafe Duck Butt.

History buffs cannot miss Kawaiaha‘o Church, built in 1842, the oldest Christian church in Hawaii. Cross the street to get to the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site for another healthy dose of local history. Both are on the National Register of Historic Places!

And if you have the kiddos with you, you can always take them to Mother Waldron Park, located in the center of the district.

7. Do a sunrise Koko Head hike

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

No matter how fit you are, a Koko Head hike will have you huffing and puffing, dripping with sweat.

First off, what is Koko Head? Basically, the Koko Crater Trail is a Stair Master workout all the way up the 1000+ stairs, with a rewarding panoramic view up top.

If your family is into heart-pumping activities, this could be the perfect family activity!

As challenging as it sounds, hiking the Koko Head trail is super fun as people passing each other are continuously motivating or complaining to each other. It’s pretty, entertaining, and a very popular hike on Oahu. Highly recommended if you’re going to be spending any amount of time in HI!

The views are absolutely amazing here on a clear day.

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com
Views from the top of Koko Head. And me…resting.

Read More: The Packing List for Hawaii and Other Tropical Beach Destinations

8. Hike Manoa Falls

The hike to Manoa Falls is not only a great family-friendly activity, but it’s also completely free and very easy to get to.

Located just a short drive from downtown, this short 1.7-mile roundtrip hike passes through scenic landscapes that wind you through bamboo forests and rainforest canopies.

You’ll walk parallel to the Manoa Stream until you hit the base of the waterfall which is 150 feet tall!

Pro Tip: Before doing this hike, I would check recent images of Manoa Falls to see what the current waterfall conditions are. (Is it dry? Gushing with water?)

9. Go snorkeling

Kaiona Beach Park - Where To Snorkel on Oahu

Spending some time with the underwater life in Hawaii is a must-do in our eyes, no matter if you’re a total beginner or an avid snorkeler!

While Hanauma Bay is known as the premier snorkeling destination on Oahu, it does come with a very steep admission fee of $25 per person.

Don’t want to pay an admission fee to snorkel? You can drive a bit further to get to Kaiona Beach Park, which is another good snorkeling spot that’s free to snorkel at.

Some other free places to snorkel on Oahu include Sunset Beach, Three Tables Beach, and Shark’s Cove on the North Shore.

If you’re visiting the summer, opt for the North Shore beaches as snorkeling on that end of the island is fantastic and so much better! If you’re traveling in the winter, do not attempt to snorkel on the North Shore as the waves can reach heights of over 20 feet (6 m) in this area.

Pro Tip: To save on snorkel rental costs, you should bring your own snorkeling set. It’ll save you a bunch of money on rentals, which average $15-25 per person for the combo of mask and fins. If you don’t currently own this, consider investing in a snorkel set you can call your own.

Read More: 9 Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu, Hawaii

10. Cool yourself off at Waiola Shave Ice

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

Okay, while this one is not completely free, it’s so affordable that it might as well be free!

A complete hole in the wall, Waiola is one of our favorite shave ice spots. They excel at their mochi balls, which is why I love them! The passionfruit, guava, and lychee flavors are our go-to.

For some of the best li hing candies on the island, head inside the Waiola store. Their li hing mangos and sour belts are some of the most potent and delicious we’ve tasted!

11. Go shopping at Ala Moana Shopping Center

One of the fun things to do in Oahu with the whole family is to check out the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu–the biggest outdoor mall in Hawaii!

Trust me when I tell you, this shopping center is huge. Once you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll find a pathway to get to the other side of the mall. It’s as if the mall can magically expand itself and double in size.

After all that shopping (or window shopping), stop by the Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage, the hub for more than 800 performances annually. Depending on the day, you might find events such as keiki (children) hula, chorale music, street dancing, and more.

Before leaving, be sure to grab a nice meal at one of the food joints here. There are standalone restaurants, dessert shops, and cafeterias that feature a multitude of cuisines.

You can easily take the bus from Waikiki and various locations of the city to the Ala Moana Shopping Center. If you’re visiting with a car, you’re in luck. There is FREE parking here!

12. Visit Green World Coffee Farm

Green World Coffee Farm - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Green World Coffee Farm is a small local coffee farm consisting of 7 acres of land with approximately 3,000 arabica coffee trees. Green World Coffee buys green beans from local farms across Hawaii such as Maui, Molokai, Kauai as well as Waialua, which is located on the North Shore of Oahu.

In addition to a large gift shop selling everything from coffee, tea, and other local merchandise, they also offer a full menu of drinks that can be purchased off the espresso bar.

At the gift shop, there are free coffee and tea tastings! Personally, the chocolate mint tea was unique and delicious! And because they roast their coffee daily, you know you’ll be tasting fresh beans whether you buy beans to take home or order a drink.

After you pick up your drinks and gifts, head out back to the little coffee farm area to enjoy a few moments outdoors before heading back in your car for your next stop.

13. Visit the Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation, located just a few minutes from Green World Coffee Farm on the North Shore of Oahu, is a fun stop for the entire family.

Established by James Dole in 1899, the company now ships 170 different food products to over 90 countries.

To learn more about pineapple history, take the free self-guided Plantation Garden Tour. The Plantation Garden Tour provides visitors with a pleasant stroll through cute little pineapple plants and educational placards on display.

If you’re traveling with children, you may want to consider doing the Pineapple Express Train Tour and the Pineapple Garden Maze (though both of these come at an extra cost).

After you’re done exploring the outdoor grounds, head into the plantation country store where you’ll find a huge (and I mean huge) variety of Dole Plantation gifts, local snacks, and gifts. Sure it’s touristy, but still a lot of fun to look through.

In the cafeteria area, you can find foods and refreshments to enjoy including their iconic Dole Whip. And if you’re looking to bring an actual pineapple home, they have those for sale too!

Dole Whip Dole Plantation - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Pro Tip: Parking gets crazy here, so try to arrive around 9:30 am when they open. You’ll get the shortest lines at all the attractions–gift shop, train rides, maze, etc.

Read More: Oahu Hawaii: Top Tips For First Timers

14. Explore Haleiwa Town

Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Located about 1 hour from Waikiki (15 minutes away from Dole Plantation) is the historical town of Haleiwa. Along with the North Shore of Oahu, this area is known as the surfing capital of the world!

Historically, Haleiwa is an old community dating back to the 1900’s contributing to the sugar plantation industry.

Once you pass Haleiwa’s iconic sign with the surfer, you’ll find a bunch of cool surf shops, boutiques, art galleries, and local food joints housed in plantation-era buildings.

Once you drive in, you will be able to tell that Haleiwa is the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. You’ll find lots of food trucks, shave ice joints, and acai/smoothie shops, and lots of people sitting around enjoying them!

Jenny's Shrimp Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary
Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Take a stroll around the various plazas that make up Haleiwa for an hour or two, including the old Waialua Sugar Mill. The sugar mill features local crafts, products, and services in a unique, old-Hawaii setting.

Shops include the North Shore Soap Factory, Charley Walker’s All Surf Glassing, Haleiwa Surfboard Company, Old Sugar Mill Brand Coffee & Chocolate, the weekly Saturday morning Farmers’ Market, and more.

You may want to get some shave ice at the iconic Matsumoto’s Shave Ice too, especially if it happens to be a hot and sweltering day.

15. North Shore Macadamia Nut Company

North Shore Mac Nut Farm - Things To Do In North Shore Oahu

Can you really go to Hawaii and not eat a whole bunch of macadamia nuts? The best place to get mac nuts to snack on (or to bring home as gifts) is straight from the source!

The North Shore Macadamia Nut Company has been a working macadamia nut farm in Waialua since 1972. I love stopping here for mac nuts gifts when I’m in the North Shore–this last time around, we left with 6 bags total to bring back to our family/friends back home.

You have to know that these aren’t just the regular boring macadamia nuts you find in your local Walmart or Target. We’re talking about all kinds of great flavors, including coffee-flavored, cinnamon-flavored, lilikoi-flavored, coconut-roasted, and more.

The best part? They have free samples so you’ll know exactly what kind of deliciousness you’re going to get before even buying.

North Shore Mac Nut Farm - Things To Do In North Shore Oahu

16. Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)

Turtle Beach North Shore Things To Do

Laniakea Beach, otherwise known as “Turtle Beach”, is a very special place. This is a great spot to warm your toes in the golden sands and–with a bit of luck–spot some green sea turtles basking in the sun!

If you haven’t been able to guess it, the beach is named for the large sea turtles that frequently sun themselves on the sand. For decades, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have frequented Laniakea Beach more than any other spot on Oahu, which is why this beach has taken on the name “Turtle Beach”.

If you get lucky, you may even see a few for yourself. Also at the beach will be a group of volunteers that serve to provide information about the turtles and make sure tourists are viewing from a distance.

I cannot stress this enough, please respect the laws and the turtles and admire them from afar. It is prohibited by federal law to touch, provoke, or even get too close to the turtles.

Pro Tip: Parking can get really bad here, so be prepared to hunt for nearby parking along the main road and walk to the beach.

17. Snorkel or beach at Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay - Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu

Waimea Bay Beach Park is one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore. It’s also a perfect place to visit with the whole family after your adventures in Waimea Valley.

In the summer, Waimea Beach offers visitors a beautiful white sand beach to lounge on and picturesque waters to swim in. During winter, it’s one of the world’s most historical surf breaks!

During the summer months, visitors can do all sorts of things, including snorkeling, swimming, boogie boarding, or even surfing.

Looking to snorkel during your beach time too? Waimea Bay is a wonderful place to do that. While the waters here are rough in winter, Waimea Bay can be as calm as a swimming pool on summer days, meaning lots of great snorkeling opportunities.

In fact, the bay is part of the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, which means that the amount of fishing is limited, protecting the local aquatic life.

There are no snorkel rentals available at Waimea Bay, so if you want to snorkel, you must bring your own snorkeling set.

18. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a must if you love beautiful scenery, mountains and exotic plants.

Even before you enter the park, it’s jaw-dropping to see. You’ll be driving in through a grand, palm-lined entrance to Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Gardens, a very grand welcome to this majestic park.

While you’re here, do not miss the picturesque lake and walking trails around the park. And being a botanical garden, you’ll see global collections from the Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, India & Sri Lanka, Melanesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Africa.

Best of all, admission is completely free! For your visit, I recommend 1 to 1.5 hours.

19. Try mac nuts at Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Nut Farm - Best Things To Do In Oahu

If you’re looking to bring home some Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts, then you have to make a stop at Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts.

Located beneath aged banyan trees, this shop offers up macadamia nuts and delicious Kona coffee (free tastings!), along with natural bath products, chocolates, and other local Hawaiian treats.

Macadamia Nut Farm - Best Things To Do In Oahu

20. See the Halona Blowhole

Halona Blowhole is a famous landmark made out of molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions. When the surf is just right, water pressure builds up within the lava tube and erupts through the narrow opening, creating a special Hawaiian geyser – all for your viewing pleasure!

Halona Blowhole is a great highway stop if you’re planning a drive on the eastern shores of Oahu.

21. Soak in views at Makapu’u Point Lookout

Just a 4-minute drive away is Makapu’u Point, featuring dramatic sea cliff views and epic ocean views.

This is the perfect spot to snap a few selfies or family photos before heading back to the Waikiki area.

From here, you’ll also be able to spot Manana Island, aka Rabbit Island (aptly named for its shape). There is also a lighthouse in the area, but the lighthouse isn’t visible from this viewpoint.

To get there, you’ll have to walk up the paved road that begins just below the entry to the lookout (on the Hawaii Kai side of the lookout). It’s a 1.75-mile trail to the lighthouse from there.

22. Lanikai Beach

Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

Lanikai Beach is easily one of the best beaches on Oahu without a doubt.

With its bright turquoise waters washing up on fine white sands, it’s easy to see why Lanikai is consistently voted Oahu’s “most beautiful” beach. In fact, it’s even been ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Because of how popular it’s gotten over the years, expect a lot of people. So many people that you might have trouble finding a parking space. If you aren’t able to find a spot in the main lot, do be extra mindful of where you park! Laws are strictly enforced here.

There are also no bathrooms, showers, or changing facilities, so come prepared with that knowledge.

23. Hike the Lanikai Pillbox (Kaiwa Ridge)

Lanikai Pillbox Hike - www.travelswithelle.com

This short and sweet trail features two military bunkers decorated in colorful graffiti that you can climb on in order to enjoy panoramic views of Lanikai Beach.

There are two pillboxes on this 2.1-mile trail. Completing the trail means you’re rewarded with some of the best vistas of Oahu’s windward side.

And while this trail could be rated as moderate, it is fairly easy to hike with a few narrow sections that require a steady footing. Just be prepared for a steady uphill climb right from the start of the trailhead and you’ll breeze through it.

All in all, it’s really not too difficult as I’ve seen locals complete this trail in flip-flops! Having said that, I would still highly recommend wearing closed-toed shoes for this.

24. Honolulu Museum of Art

With a permanent collection of more than 60,000 pieces, the Honolulu Museum of Art is Hawaii’s largest general fine-arts museum.

The Honolulu Museum of Art offers free admission for kids 18 years and younger every day. The museum even holds Family Sunday on the third Sunday of each month, where all families can take advantage of both free admission and hands-on keiki activities!

After browsing the galleries and enjoying the open courtyards and ponds, take a break and grab a bite to eat in the open-air HoMA Cafē or recharge with an energizing drink at the Coffee Bar.

25. Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM)

The Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) is one of the few state-sponsored art museums in the country. At this admission-free museum, visitors can view the finest collection of works from some of Hawaii’s best artists.

Located adjacent to the State Capitol, Iolani Palace, and the State Library, HiSAM is an educational teaching tool for the public. HiSAM has four galleries as well as a Sculpture Garden to enjoy.

Did we mention this museum is completely free to the public? Score!

26. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a site commemorating the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, featuring USS Arizona Memorial, museum & galleries. This is a must-do attraction for history buffs as they can actually set foot right where the Pearl Harbor attacks took place 75 years ago.

You can visit the grounds, watch a video that provides more background on Pearl Harbor’s significance, visit the USS Arizona Memorial by ferry, and even take a docent-led tour all for free!

Book ahead or get there early to receive same-day timed tickets to take a ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial. The tour around the Visitor Center and Arizona Memorial will take 1-2 hours.

Do note that if you’re traveling with young children, strollers are not allowed on the ferry.

27. Go shopping at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet

Just 20 minutes away from Waikiki is the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, Hawaii’s largest open-air market.

This is the ideal place to discover unique treasures (think Hawaiian candies, ukeleles, keychains, aloha shirts, and other affordable souvenirs), where even the locals shop for the best deals in town.

If you’re getting too warm from the walking, there are delicious and refreshing coconuts to keep you hydrated while you shop!

Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. While it is not completely free to walk around, there is just a very small admission fee to enter.

Check their website for the latest admission fees and business hours. Be sure to bring cash so you can buy things!

28. Attend a Sunset On The Beach night

Sunset on the Beach is a free seasonal event that features outdoor viewings of movies on a large 30-foot screen. Each year, there are about 3 to 4 Sunset On The Beach movies held.

In addition to the movie programming, nearby restaurants also will serve affordably priced meals and usually live Hawaiian-style entertainment accompanies the event.

The event is located on Queen’s Surf Beach, across from the Honolulu Zoo. Sunset On The Beach starts at about 4:30 pm and ends at about 9:30 pm. The movies typically are shown after sunset.

29. Watch the Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show

Hula Show at Kuhio Beach - Free Family Activities Oahu

For a high-quality and free hula show, head to the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. These impressive 60-minute shows are held every Saturday from 6:30pm to 7:30pm (or 6:00pm to 7:00pm from Nov to Jan).

The show opens with torch lighting and the traditional blowing of the conch shell which are both just so epic in itself.

Don’t forget to bring a beach towel or a beach chair so you can get comfortable for the sunset hula show!

The hula show takes place on the ocean side of Kalākaua Ave, near the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, diagonally across from the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

30. Enjoy cultural activities at the Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center is the best place to go for a taste of Hawaiian cultural activities. The coolest thing about it is that these free classes are open to the public almost every day of the week.

Cultural classes include lei-making, hula lessons, Lauhala weaving, ukelele lessons, and Hawaiian quilting. They sometimes even have rooftop stargazing that’s open to the public, too.

To find out what’s happening exactly during your visit to Oahu, check out the Royal Hawaiian Center’s events calendar for the full schedule.

Classes are on a first-come-first-serve basis, so do plan on showing up earlier if you want to secure spots for the whole family!

31. Koko Crater Botanical Garden

The Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a hidden gem located on the eastern side of Oahu! The garden is situated in the crater of an extinct volcano and focuses on the cultivation of rare and endangered dryland plants.

It’s not your average botanical garden! Xeriscape concepts are used to transform this dry landscape into a garden where plants suitable to desert-like conditions can flourish.

Visiting the Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a great way to get away from the crowds and experience the natural beauty of Oahu! You’ll find lots of trails and paths that wind through the property, providing a peaceful and serene experience (as if Oahu wasn’t serene enough as it is!).

Some of the highlights of the garden include the cactus and succulent garden, the dryland palms, and the plumeria grove.

32. Do the Waikiki Historic Trail

The Waikiki Historic Trail is a self-guided walking tour that takes visitors on a journey through the history of Waikiki. This urban trail features 23 historic sites and markers, each with a unique story to tell about the history and culture of Waikiki!

You’ll want to follow the numbers on the trail map. Once you’re there, click on the number for more information about the stopping point!

The trail begins at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound, where visitors can see a statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the legendary Hawaiian surfer and Olympic swimmer. From there, the trail winds its way through Waikiki, stopping at sites such as the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the Moana Surfrider Hotel, and the Waikiki Aquarium.

Each site on the Waikiki Historic Trail has a unique story to tell, from the history of the Hawaiian monarchy to the development of the tourism industry in Hawaii. You can even learn about the famous guests who have stayed at the hotels, the legends of Hawaiian gods and goddesses, and the impact of World War II on the island.

33. Soak in the vista views at Pu’u Ualaka’a State Wayside Park

For the best free vista in Honolulu, head to this lofty hillside park and get ready for sweeping views left and right!

You’ll have Diamond Head views on your left, Honolulu and Waikiki front and center, and the Wai’anae Range to your right. Plus, it’s all backdropped by the gleaming sight of the Pacific Ocean!

Consider Getting The Go City Oahu Attraction Pass

We love an affordable vacation just as much as the next guy. However, in some destinations, we actually want to enjoy paid attractions.

Having done almost all of Oahu’s free attractions throughout our four previous visits, we wanted to explore some of the island’s premier paid attractions such as Kualoa Ranch and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

On our latest visit, we got the Go City Oahu Pass. This all-inclusive attraction pass is a great way to see some of Oahu’s best attractions at steeply discounted prices.

Instead of paying full-price admission for each tour, museum, and guided excursion you want to do, you’re able to do unlimited things with the All-Inclusive Pass for one fixed price.

We experienced it for ourselves–the Go City Oahu Pass really is the easiest way to see the very best of Oahu! During one of our last trips to Oahu, we were able to do a lot with the All-Inclusive Pass.

But even more importantly, we were able to save a ton of money!

The All-Inclusive Pass gets even cheaper the more days you opt forThe 2-day pass costs $204 ($102/day), 3-day pass costs $259 ($86/day), 5-day pass costs $369 ($73/day), so on and so forth. You can choose between a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-day All-Inclusive Pass.

Do note that Go City does offer “Premium Attractions” that are only available to those who opt for a pass of 3 days or more. These premium attractions include full-day tours, luaus, sunset catamaran sails, and more!

Getting access to one of these attractions was so worth it because it meant we didn’t have to pay premium retail prices for the premium experience (we opted for the catamaran sail).

So if there’s a premium attraction that really piques your interest, I’d highly recommend going with a 3+ day pass, especially if you’re going to be visiting Oahu for 4+ days.

Top Four Popular Tours In Oahu

Affordable Places To Stay In Oahu

Staying in Honolulu/Waikiki can be a good idea for first-timers, as it puts you close to plenty of introductory things to do, places to eat and shop, and tourist attractions.

While it is convenient and close to a lot of restaurants, bars, and shopping, there are some drawbacks.

First off, because of how compact and populated this area is, street parking is hard to come by.

Do note that a lot of the hotels and resorts here charge both resort fees and parking fees. These fees range anywhere from $20-50 per night for parking and $15-35 per night for the resort fee.

So if you’ve found a hotel you like, be sure to check for these ‘hidden’ fees!

Many hours of research later–here are a few hotels that I’ve found to be the most budget-friendly in the Waikiki area, after accounting for all the added fees:

Waikiki - Where To Stay In Oahu Hawaii

If you’d rather get off the beaten path a little, I would actually recommend staying in a VRBO vacation rental or hotel on any part of the island other than Waikiki. While Waikiki is beautiful and convenient, it is also very developed, meaning it’ll have more of an impersonal city feel.

Other parts of Oahu are way more scenic!

My favorite part of the island to stay is in Kailua, located on the East Shore. Lanikai Beach, named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is located on the Eastern part of the island, too.

Best lodging/transportation combination: Rent a car + rent a vacation home/private room in a neighborhood with driveway parking or street parking outside of Waikiki. Free parking = more money to spend on other parts of your vacation!

And that about wraps up our list of free family activities in Oahu! I hope you were able to discover a few new things to do with your whole crew. Safe and happy travels to ya!

Looking for more Oahu travel tips? Read more:

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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