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8 Best FREE Things to Do in Honolulu in 2024

honolulu skyline from plane
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Whether you’re a local or a tourist, odds are you’re hoping to save a few dollars while enjoying the stunning islands of Hawaii. Unsurprisingly, according to government data, Hawaii is the most expensive state out of all fifty United States to live and vacation in, so saving money where you can is essential.

Honolulu is Hawaii’s capital and the biggest and most populated city across its eight islands. Honolulu is the perfect intersection of natural beauty and urban amenities.

Check out these fantastic and free (or nearly free) activities to do in and around the gorgeous city of Honolulu!

  • 1. Explore the beaches – they're almost all free!

    The most obvious free activity has to go first on the list of amazing things to do for free in Honolulu– the beach! Oahu, the island where Honolulu is located, has over 125 beaches, which is impressive considering the island is less than 600 square miles.

    Waikiki is, without question, Honolulu’s most famous beach. With millions of guests yearly, Waikiki can get quite busy, especially during the summer and peak tourist season. Because so many hotels are situated right along the southern shore and just a short walk to Waikiki, this gorgeous area can be bustling and might be a bit crowded. It’s important to get there early to get a good spot, and always watch the weather for dangerous tides.

    Ala Moana Regional Park is another local favorite, as well as Kaimana Beach and Magic Island. Bringing your own snacks, towels, and beach essentials will help you save money while exploring the beautiful beaches. Just make sure to clean up after you go and leave no trace!

    beaches in honolulu
  • 2. Enjoy the parks and hiking trails

    Honolulu has many gorgeous parks and hiking trails in and around the bustling city. Diamond Head is one of Oahu’s most popular hiking and exploring spots, and it is located conveniently right inside the heart of Honolulu. Don’t miss the Diamond Head Lookout or the Kahala Lookout!

    There are also other amazing places to see around Oahu if you make it out of Honolulu, like the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens (which is free)! Because Hawaii can get quite hot (even in winter months), be sure to bring all the necessary Hawaii essentials and plan to be prepared before setting out on Oahu’s gorgeous trails.

    parks around honolulu
  • 3. Go snorkeling and try various water sports

    While this will likely involve a small upfront investment for renting or buying gear, snorkeling and other water sports are enjoyable activities for the whole family. Some rental accommodations will also provide snorkeling and outdoor equipment for free or at a deeply discounted price.

    You can even rent a paddleboard (or a surfboard if you’re experienced) and try your hand at one of Hawaii’s most popular pastimes. Many surf shops will also offer classes, but these can get a little costly, and those without prior training are strongly encouraged to go to one of Honolulu’s more low-key beaches, as the waves can get pretty intense!

    Spend your time luxuriating in Hawaii’s famous natural water habitats for very little money! Just be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen to protect Hawaii’s natural ecosystems.

    waikiki surf board rentals
  • 4. Visit the festivals and markets

    Hawaii has plenty of free and surprising activities, including silent discos, film festivals, poetry readings, live music events, groups, tours, and activities. Local activities can also be a fantastic way to meet locals, engage with the culture, and explore new ways of living.

    There are also plenty of regular farmer’s markets, where you can walk around and explore products and goods from local artisans, farmers, bakers, and small businesses. You definitely don’t have to buy anything, but supporting local businesses is always nice, especially when traveling.

    See a list here of some fabulous free Honolulu activities (updated regularly)!

    festivals in honolulu
  • 5. Take your kids to the Honolulu Zoo!

    The Honolulu Zoo is a fantastic way to connect with Hawaii’s unbelievable wildlife! From meerkats to turtles to rhinos and everything in between, there are plenty of animals and exhibits for the whole family to enjoy.

    While the Honolulu Zoo isn’t free every day (regular admission costs $19.00 for adults), the first Wednesday of the month allows free entry for all.

    Another money-saving tip: the Honolulu Zoo allows guests to bring in their own food and even packed coolers.

    monkey at honolulu zoo
  • 6. Try geocaching

    Geocaching is a fun scavenger hunt experience for the whole family. All you need is a smartphone and a sense of adventure. The Geocaching App will give you rough coordinates and some hints about your treasure, and it’s up to you and your crew to find the cache! The island of Oahu has approximately 1,200 geocaches to find, with many of them located in and around Honolulu.

    Geocaching is a fun activity for adventurers of all ages, from little ones to seniors. While a premium subscription runs about $29.99 per year, many geocaches are available on the free version of the app.

    stairway to heaven hike near honolulu
  • 7. Visit the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center

    If you are a history buff, you shouldn’t miss the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial. it is a unique and sobering memorial to those who were lost on December 7th, 1941. the memorial has lots of interesting historical information about the day that caused the United States to join the Second World War.

    The memorial, operated by the National Park Service, is free and open to visitors. There are guided audio tours available, and even a virtual reality experience for those who are interested.

    pear harbor memorial aerial view
  • 8. Experience the Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show

    Last but not least on our list, the Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show take place Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays throughout the year on Waikiki Beach.

    You’ll want to get there early to get a good seat for this fascinating cultural experience. Local Hawaiian dancers wow the audience with their mesmerizing dance moves and traditional torch lighting ceremony.

    hula show in honolulu


Hawaii can be incredibly expensive, but there are some offbeat, fun, and unique ways to have a great time while saving money. Honolulu has a lot of rich and unique cultural, outdoor, and historical opportunities for adventurous tourists. No matter how you decide to spend your precious time in Hawaii, you’re sure to enjoy yourself in this heaven-on-earth paradise. And if you can save a few dollars at the same time, even better!

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