Paradise on a Budget: Cheap Things to Do on Oahu for Thrifty Travelers

Cheap Things to Do on Oahu

Introduction to cheap things to do on Oahu

Oahu is a beautiful island in Hawaii that has something for everyone. It’s home to Honolulu and Waikiki, two of the most visited cities on the planet. 

From beaches and forests to towns with history and culture, there are plenty of things in Oahu that don’t require a plane ride or any other form of transportation. 

Here are cheap thing for thing to do on Oahu soon as possible when visiting this paradise:

Go on a hike

Hiking is a great way to see the island and get to know its natural beauty. Many hikes are free or cheap, so you can find one that fits your budget. 

The tourist office will have pamphlets with information about hikes on Oahu, and they also have a directory of hiking companies in case you want someone else to take care of all the planning and logistics for your hike.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy doing but want to avoid experience before attempting it yourself, consider hiring a guide who knows what they’re doing. 

You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable these excursions can be when there’s someone else with whom you share common interests and knowledge about nature itself and maybe even some history along the way.

Visit Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Oahu and is a great place to visit during your stay in Honolulu. 

It’s also an easy walk from most hotels, restaurants, and shops in Waikiki so you can walk around before or after dinner.

Many Waikiki hotels have swimming pools for guests to use during their stay there, so if you’re looking for something unique and different from other places, consider staying here. 

There are also many parks nearby where families can enjoy nature together without spending too much money on activities like renting boats or jet skis.

Picnic at a beach park

If you want to spend some time outdoors, consider a picnic at one of Oahu’s beach parks. 

These are communal areas where people bring their food and drink, but they also offer some amenities like showers and restrooms.

You can take advantage of these features without paying extra by bringing a blanket or two and some food. 

Most parks will allow you to bring items on-site as long as they’re not glass. So if you’ve got an umbrella stowed away somewhere in the trunk of your car, go ahead. 

But make sure that it’s closed before sitting down with friends around the fire pit to avoid any potential splinters from falling onto your lap during this fun activity.

See the North Shore

The North Shore is the best place to see whales, waterfalls, and lava. You can also find beaches here.

If you want to see whales: This is probably your best bet if you’re visiting Oahu during winter because they come up to feed on krill and squid in large groups at night (this happens from November through March). 

If you go out on the beach after dark, look for their dorsal fins sticking up above the waterline; this will help identify them as humpbacks or sperm whales.

If you want to see waterfalls: Another must-do activity on this island is hiking up one of its many trails near Waimea Canyon State Park though not all are easy hikes (you’ll need some fitness), most will take between an hour and two hours depending on which trail ends up being more challenging than others.

Visit the pineapple fields

Pineapple fields are a must-see when you’re in Hawaii. The Dole Plantation, located on the east side of Oahu, is where pineapples are grown and harvested. 

You can watch how they’re grown and processed into juice, slice pineapple rings (or drink them straight from the can), or even sample some fresh pineapple.

The plantation offers daily tours that take you through its history and behind-the-scenes access to pineapple. 

You’ll learn why this fruit has been so important to Hawaiian culture since ancient times and what makes it taste great.

See the Koko Head stairs

The Koko Head stairs are a popular hike on Oahu. They’re about 2.5 miles long and located in Kaneohe, but they’ve been featured in many movies and TV shows like Jurassic Park IV: The Lost World.

It’s a strenuous hike that takes about two hours to complete, but it’s well worth it for the spectacular views from the top.

Visit Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is a US military base in Honolulu, the site of one of the most famous battles in American history. 

It’s also been designated a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public for tours. If you’re interested in visiting this historic site, it’s worth noting that tickets are required.

Watch a luau show and hula dance class

Luau shows are a Hawaiian tradition that has been around for hundreds of years. The show can last anywhere from an hour to three hours and is usually performed outdoors in front of an audience.

The cost is typical $50-$80 per person, but you can get into some cheaper shows if you know where they’re happening and when they’re starting. 

If you’re going with a group, ask around before booking your tickets so everyone gets the best deal possible.

While it’s not necessary to wear traditional Polynesian clothing (like leis), it will help make your experience more authentic if you do decide to wear something special like this:

Girls wore a grass skirt at luaus, worn by women during ceremonies and as fashionable attire outside them. 

Visit the Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is located in Kapiolani Park and is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission costs $7 for adults, $2 for children 6-12, and children under six are free.

The zoo is home to over 1,200 animals from around the world, including elephants, giraffes, and lions. 

You can even see some rare species, like Sumatran tiger cubs or a pair of black rhinos born on Oahu this past December.

See Manoa falls

Manoa Falls is a waterfall on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It is located in Manoa Valley, near the University of Hawaii at Manoa. 

The waterfall has a height of 100 feet (30 m) and a width of 10 feet (3 m).

The falls were created by erosion from rainwater over thousands of years; when there was more rain than usual during an El Niño event in 1998-1999 there were major floods that caused damage to homes near here as well as covering roads with mudslides until they had been cleared away by workers using heavy equipment such as bulldozers and graders.

Take a walk through Chinatown

Chinatown is the place to go if you’re looking for a cheap place to hang out. There are many good restaurants and stores in Chinatown and some great museums and galleries.

The best thing about going to Chinatown is getting lost in its maze-like streets with old buildings full of life and people bustling around at all hours of the day and night.

A walk through these streets will give you an idea of what it was like when Hawaiians first came here from Polynesia thousands of years ago; this unique culture has left us with some great traditions that continue today.

Attend a festival 

If you’re looking for a way to spend your day, there are many things to do in and around Honolulu. Here are some ideas:

  1. Attend a festival or parade in Chinatown or Downtown Honolulu
  2. Visit the USS Missouri Battleship Museum
  3. See some of the sites from Pearl Harbor

Watch surfers in Waikiki

If you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive activity in Waikiki, head to the beach. 

Surfing is the best way to see surfers in action; you can watch them all day long if you don’t mind getting wet and sandy.

There are two main surf spots on Oahu: Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach (on North Shore). 

The best time of year to see surfers at these beaches is January through March because it’s cold enough that there’s less wind than during other months; this means that waves will be bigger. 

You’ll also see fewer people because they tend to go elsewhere when waves get choppy or dangerous enough that they don’t feel safe going out unprotected into them (like off cliffs).

Go shrimp truck hopping

Shrimp trucks are a popular food truck in Hawaii. They’re often parked in popular areas and open at night so you can eat them on your way home from work or school. 

Shrimp trucks have a variety of dishes from shrimp po’boys to shrimp katsu curry and are best enjoyed with a beer.

Get shaved ice or ice cream

Matsumoto’s is a popular shaved ice and dessert spot on Oahu. It’s in Haleiwa, so that you can take the bus there from Honolulu.

Leonard’s Bakery is another great place to get shaved ice or li hing mui (lemon grass) ice cream. 

They are famous for their lilikoi (passion fruit) flavored ice cream, which tastes like real passion fruit.

Both places are open late into the night and serve delicious treats at reasonable prices, leaving you feeling full but not broken afterward.


If you have time, I encourage you to take advantage of these activities in Honolulu. There are many more options that I did not mention here, and I hope this list will inspire your adventures on Oahu.

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