Top FREE Things to Do on Oahu, Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands are truly one of the most majestic and beautiful places on this earth.  Known as the 'gathering place,' the island of Oahu is a popular destination with an endless list of things to do - here is Travel Writer's list of FREE activities to enjoy while vacationing on Oahu, Hawaii.

This oh-so-tropical open-air shopping market is hidden away underneath the towering banyan trees.  Over 130 vendors offer a selection of traditional arts & crafts, kitschy souvenirs, plus an International food court; it's definitely work a look (and maybe a few photographs) even if you don't intend on buying anything.  (2330 Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki; open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.)

2) Ukulele, Lei Making, Lomi Lomi, Hula or Kapa Kuiki Lessons at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
With over 100 stores and restuarants spread out over four tiers, the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is a typical upscale shopping center in many ways with stores like Salvatore Ferragamo, Ferrari, and Fendi.  The big difference is the shopping experience itself is accentuated with Hawaiian cultural activities like FREE classes on Kapa Kuiki (beautiful quilt making), Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian massage), lei making, and hula lessons, which are offered throughout the week.  (2201 Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki; check daily schedules in advance)

3) Entertainment at the Royal Hawiian Shopping Center
Once you've shopped until you've dropped, it's time to enjoy the FREE entertainment of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center: hula shows, piano music, and the Royal Hawaiian Band, to only name a few.  (2201 Kalakaua Ave in Waikiki; check daily schedules in advance) 

4) Drive up the Old Pali Highway Oahu Scenic Drive
From Waikiki, take the westbound H1 turning off at the Pali Highway Exit (61 North).  Follow this route (approximately 5 miles) through the Pali Tunnels, then turn right onto Nu'uanu Pali Drive.  Built in the 1950's, this short but gorgeous tree-lined route provides a sneak peak of some of the islands most beautiful natural surroundings.

5) Visit the Byodo-In Temple 
Built in 1968, this tribute to Japanese immigrants is an exact replica (built to scale) of the ancient Fuji Temple in Japan.  Nestled against the base of the Koolau Mountains, the serene Byodo-In Temple is a photographers dream.  This relaxing venue is a stark contrast to the hustle & bustle of Waikiki - stroll amongst the gardens, sit and meditate, or watch wide-eyed children frolic at the koi ponds.  (From Waikiki, take Highway 83 (toward Kahekili) to the Valley of the Temples, near Kaneohe) 

6) Visit the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor
This National Monument is the final resting place for the 1,177 crew members onboard the USS Arizona who lost their lives in World War II on December 7, 1941.  Although admission to the USS Arizona Memorial is free, keep in mind that a limited number of free tickets for timed programs are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

7) Visit Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore
Located at Ehukai Beach in Pupukea, the famous Banzai Pipeline is the place to watch some of the best surfing on Oahu.  With average waves between 16 to 20’, make sure you’re camera ready to capture this amazing sport.  (From Waikiki, follow Kamehameha Highway 83 to Pupukea)

8) Go Snorkeling at Sharks Cove
Also located on the North Shore of Oahu, Sharks Cove has been hailed as one of the “Top 12 Shore Dives in the World” by Scuba Diving Magazine.  The clear blue water provides a glimpse of the abundant sea life while children (and adults alike) can enjoy exploring the natural tide pools.

9) Enjoy the Entertainment at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa
See the Friday night Fireworks or watch the Torch Lighting Ceremony daily at sunset.
 
10) Stroll the streets taking in the sights and delights found only in Chinatown  
Wander through the markets, savor authentic Chinese cuisine, visit the Kuan Yin Temple, and on the First Friday of every month, enjoy the talents of local artists as they gather to showcase their works.


11) Authentic Hula Show at Kuhio Beach Park in Waikiki
Near the Duke Kahanomoku statue on Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki, you’ll find the Kuhio Beach Hula show complete with Hawaiian music, story-telling dances, plus a torch lighting ceremony.  The one hour hula experience takes place on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

12) Take a Waikiki Historic Trail Walking Tour
Follow the 21 route markers along this historic trail through the streets of Waikiki.  A descriptive 21-page document is available for download which includes a detailed map of the Waikiki Historic Trail.
 
13) Take to the Beach for a Picnic like the Locals
Wherever there’s a beach, there’s a picnic.  With so many opportunities to enjoy the sheer natural beauty of Oahu’s beaches, grab a towel, some snacks from the local ABC (or ask for a take-out lunch/dinner at any restaurant), a camera, and you’re set to relax and enjoy.
 
14) Visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl)
Designated as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in 1949, the ‘Punchbowl’ was formed as a result of volcanic activity some 75,000 years ago.  This solemn and serene location holds striking natural beauty with camera worthy shots of Waikiki below.

Flickr.com Photo Credits:

A Postc@rd from P@r@dise by Lazlo-Photo
Byodo-in Temple by LoveJanine
Hawaii_Hula_Shell_36 by MadMarv00

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