Think about dream destinations and Hawaii is probably at the top of that list. The aloha state is among the most popular travel spots in the United States and is seeing a growing flow of tourists thanks to the vaccine rollout. However, a trip to these beautiful islands could come with a big price tag. Honolulu is in the top five most expensive cities in the country, which means that everything from meals to transportation will probably be more expensive than in your hometown. Here are seven must-visit free attractions in Oahu so that you can enjoy your time off without breaking the bank.
Free Things To Do in Oahu
By Alejandra Arevalo
As one of the most famous beaches in the world, Waikiki should definitely be on your bucket list of attractions to visit on the island. The beach has a stunning view of the shoreline and is always full of music and laughs. While enjoying the beach might be free, this area is also among the most expensive in the city. Beware of overpriced restaurants and expensive limited parking.
Waikiki’s boardwalk full of luxury stores gives a Beverly Hills-meets-Miami vibe, a perfect place to shop electronics or designer clothes since the state’s sales tax is among the lowest in the country (4.44 percent).
Don’t let the modest entrance to this hiking trail fool you. You’ll get mesmerized by the view from the top of the hill. Located on the east side of the island, Friendship Garden is a 10-acre hiking area that leads to a stunning bird-eye sight of the Kaneohe Bay. The trail creates a loop so you won’t get lost. Once you get to the viewpoint, you’ll see an unofficial trail going to the very top of the mountain. Some locals may take it because they know the area but it’s fairly steep and dangerous.
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Dive into the plants of the Americas, Asia and Hawaii at Koko Crater Botanical Garden. You will fall in love with the plumerias and agave cacti while you hike a family-friendly trail. There is no water fountain here or nearby convenience store so make sure to fill up your bottle beforehand. This is not to be mistaken with the Koko Crater Trail or Koko Head Stairs, which is a demanding hike with over 1,000 steps to climb up.
Ala Moana Beach
This beach is simply stunning, especially if you enjoy the sea-meets-city vibe. The powdery sand will make you want to sink in it and lie under the sun for hours. Unlike Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach has more free parking right next to the beach and at the nearby malls. There are also public bathrooms and street food stands around which make it a great spot to spend hours at.
Laniakea Beach is located on the north shore of the island. It might get more waves than the beaches in the south shore. It’s a stunning place frequented by locals too, so that tells you this isn’t just a tourist trap. A short driving distance away is downtown Haleiwa, where you can find multiple eating spots and local craft shops in case you want to get a souvenir.
Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden
Jurassic Park was technically shot in Kualoa Ranch (which you have to pay a tour to get into), but the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden has a pretty similar vibe. Immerse yourself in the greenery of this park while learning about plants from all around the world in the different sections of the garden.
Have you ever wondered what the cinnamon or nutmeg trees look like? You’ll get to see them right here. This is also a great spot to do a picnic by the lake in the middle of the park. Get some cool shots with the background of Oahu’s green mountain range.
Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
This is one of the most solemn tourist destinations in Oahu but definitely a must-see for anyone who wants to learn more about the island and the country’s history. Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will walk you minute-by-minute through the military attack as you see belongings of the victims and testimonies of survivors. There is free parking but definitely make sure to arrive early to find a spot. Plan at least a couple of hours during the day to go visit this free attraction in Oahu. You don’t want to be rushed out half-way through the exhibit.
Looking for more things to do in Oahu for free? Share with us your recommendations in the comments below.