The Hawaiian Island of Oahu is home to roughly one million people.
This beautiful island, sometimes called ‘the gathering place,’ is the third largest island in Hawaii, and it’s home to some of Hawaii’s most loved attractions.
Oahu attracts almost 600,000 visitors per month. That’s around 7 million visitors a year! Wondering what makes Oahu so special?
Well, this incredible island is known for its incredible beaches, monuments, hiking trails, wildlife, live music, and nightlife – just to name a few.
The best bit? Some of Oahu’s most incredible attractions are completely free – so you won’t have to tighten your purse strings to enjoy your time away.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next trip, keep reading to discover some of the best free things to do in Oahu, Hawaii.
Waikiki Beach is one of Oahu’s most famous attractions. Waikiki beach is also one of the most recognizable beaches in the world.
This incredible beach is just four miles southeast of the city, and there are multiple bus routes and walking routes to get you there.
At the east end of the beach, you’ll find plenty of vast, open spaces that are perfect for picnics, running, or games, and at the west end of the beach, you’ll find the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon, the ideal location for a quiet, relaxing swim.
Although Waikiki Beach is two miles long, it’s almost always full – especially during the peak of tourist season. However, in the evenings it tends to quieten down, so if you’re a sunset lover, this is the perfect time to put your towel down!
Even if you don’t visit the bars and restaurants that line the beach, you can still take in the smells of the incredible cuisine and the sounds of beautiful live music.
Hike The Maunawili Trail
Next on our list of free activities is the Maunawili Trail. The Maunawili Trail is a breathtaking 20ft waterfall that sits nestled away below the Pali Cliffs.
This popular tourist destination offers some of the most incredible views on the island.
With tropical greenery and secluded swimming spots, there’s no better place to explore Oahu than at the Maunawili Trail.
Unfortunately, such beautiful spots don’t come without the need for some TLC and renovation. The Maunawili Trail will be temporarily closed between 2021 and 2023, so more parking and comfort facilities can be added.
However, the falls can still be accessed by hiking through the Maunawili Demonstration Trail, so you’ll still have plenty to explore in the area!
The Hawaii State Art Museum
If you’re a lover of all things art and culture, why not take a trip to the Hawaii State Art Museum?
This museum is one of the only state-funded museums in Hawaii, and it can be found in the city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.
Admission to the Hawaii State Art Museum is always free, and here, you can find a stunning range of contemporary art, displayed in a beautiful building with a sprawling structure, and stunning tropical gardens which are also free to explore.
Chocolate Tasting At Manoa Chocolate
Who doesn’t love chocolate? If you turn up at the Manoa chocolate store at 333 Uluniu Street, you’ll be offered several free tasters to satisfy your cravings.
While you’re here, you can explore the incredible selection of chocolate on offer, and if you fall in love with a taster (which you probably will), you can buy yourself an extra helping!
Manoa Chocolate Shop is in the center of town, and a recreational skatepark is also just a short distance away – so you’ll have plenty of other things to explore once you’ve satisfied your cravings!
Visit Pearl Harbor
One of Oahu’s most popular attractions is the infamous Pearl Harbour.
The Pearl Harbour Visitor Center is a free attraction in Oahu, and it’s the ideal place to learn more about the history of WW2 and reflect on the somber events that took place here.
Pearl harbor is a place of quiet reflection.
Here, you’ll find five historic sites to explore – you can walk through airplane hangers, hear first-hand accounts of the conflict, and look into the harbor where the USS Arizona now rests.
See A Hula Show
Would it really be a trip to Hawaii without a Hula show? Oahu has plenty of free hula shows on offer, so you can immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture, and have a night to remember.
Free outdoor hula shows are held at Kuhio beach every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, and trust us; it’s a must-see!
The Royal Hawaiian Center also has plenty of free cultural activities on offer, almost every day of the week. Whether you want to see or learn Hawaiian quilting, hula lessons, or massages, the Royal Hawaiian Center is the place to be.
See A Movie On The Beach
Head down to Waikiki beach on the weekends, and you’ll find sunset on the beach – a features viewing of great movies set on a 30-foot screen at the heart of Waikiki beach. Bring your towel, chair, and some snacks, and you’ll have a chilled evening to remember!
Hit Up Chinatown
While you’re here, don’t forget to visit Chinatown! Oahu’s Chinatown can be found in downtown Honolulu, and it’s bustling with life, shoppers, vendors, mystery, and incredible architecture.
You don’t have to splash the cash to enjoy Chinatown – simply show up, roam around, and enjoy the culture you’ll be immersed in!
It’s vibrant, wacky, and full of shops, antiques, and live music – what’s not to love?
Oahu is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world, and for a good reason. Even if you’re traveling on a budget, there’s no reason why you can’t make the most of your time in Oahu!
So, save the cash and get out and enjoy the sights – you’ll find something for the whole family!