Free Things to Do in Honolulu, Hawaii

View of Waikiki beach from Diamond Head, Honolulu.
View of Waikiki beach from Diamond Head, Honolulu. (Image: honolulu, waikiki beach from diamond head image by Robert Young from

As a major tourist destination in the Pacific, Honolulu offers sandy beaches, water sports and family activities year round. Some of the most important attractions of the city include the Waikiki Aquarium, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Contemporary Museum, the Hawaii State Art Museum and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. When in Honolulu on a budget, you can enjoy some of the free attractions the city has to offer, from historical monuments to national parks that don’t require an entrance fee.

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head, covering 475 acres, is located near the edge of Waikiki's Beach. This Hawaii landmark is famous for its military history, coastal landscapes and historic hiking trail. The crater was created 300,000 years ago by an explosive eruption that sent small particles in the atmosphere. After the settlement of these materials, they combined, forming the tuff, a volcanic rock. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, vegetation and small animals started to develop in the area. There are several services in the park, including vending machines, restrooms, picnic areas and drinking water. The site is bus accessible and there are several restaurants in the area.

Ka'ena Point State Park

This park is located on a remote coastline and offers shore fishing, picnic facilities, and long family hikes. Beside the volcanic coast with natural stone arches, visitors can enjoy pools, lifeguard services, board surfing and body surfing during the summer. Tourists can also enjoy a view of the Kaneana, a large sea cave, known in the area as the legendary home of Nanue, the shark man. There is no drinking water in the location and the services and amenities of the area include trashcans, lifeguard services, payphone and restrooms.

Sand Island Beach Park

Situated near the entrance of the Honolulu Harbor, Sand Island Beach Park was a military base during World War II. Nowadays, tourists come here to see lookout towers and bunkers spread all around the park. The long beaches are generally not crowded and the numerous trees provide shady areas, ideal during the hot summers. Services and amenities include barbecue grills, restroom facilities and fresh water in special points, as well as parking and swimming. There is no lifeguard service and visitors are asked to monitor the ocean conditions closely, not to enter the bunkers and lookout towers and not to swim in the harbor area.

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