Now, while these are free Oahu activities, most of them do require some not free way to get there.
For example, if you are on Oahu without a car, then in most cases it will not be free to get to the free Oahu activity. But, you can get there in the cheapest way possible… aka the OAHU BUS!
If bus is your method of transport, you will also want to pay attention to how long it will take to get to any free Oahu activity by bus. For some people the extra time on the bus may be worth it as a day trip from Waikiki, but maybe you won’t think it is!
Otherwise, if you are renting a car, then these Oahu activities will actually be free for you since your form of transportation is already paid for! You won’t have to pay extra for the activity, and in most cases parking is free too!
Cheap things to do in Oahu
First the quick list of a couple of not free but cheap things to do in Oahu that are worth mentioning because they are also the best things to do in Oahu!
The Diamond Head hike is the most iconic hike on Oahu. It costs $5 per person.
If you don’t mind extra walking, then you can get to Diamond Head for free from where you’re staying in Waikiki!
You need to make a Diamond Head reservation before you go.
Parking is not free, and you also need to buy parking tickets before you go. Parking is $10.
2. Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is another icon of Oahu.
Pearl Harbor could actually be listed as one of the free things to do on Oahu, because there is no entry fee to the grounds. There is plenty to do for free by walking around.
But if you’re going to Pearl Harbor, you should also go to the USS Arizona Memorial, and that’s not completely free.
You need to make a Pearl Harbor reservation before you go to that specific spot.
There is free parking at Pearl Harbor.
And now, see below for the list of free things to do in Oahu!
Here's some info on Oahu trip prep!
- Swim with turtles at Turtle Canyons from Waikiki
- Things to do in Waikiki without a car (for VIEWS!)
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Hawaii packing list: THE top things to pack for Hawaii
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You can read reviews for the best Oahu tours.
If you can't see the video directly above, save the Oahu video playlist to watch on youtube later!
IMPORTANT!!! If you have plans to do the Diamond Head hike, be sure to check the Hawaii State Parks website before you go. As of May 2022, you must make reservations for Diamond Head.
👇 Explore the Oahu map on google maps!
19 things to do in Oahu for FREE!
Bus directions (map) are also linked below. Be sure that the “departure time” is showing as a reasonable actual departure time to get a better idea. For example, if the departure time is showing 11pm Hawaii time, it won’t show you the most reasonable bus route available for when you go.
1. Waikiki Beach
As the most popular area to stay on Oahu, you probably won’t have to try hard to make it to Waikiki Beach!
Do expect crowds, but it also does come with convenience by staying in a tourist area!
You can a number of food spots along Waikiki Beach so you can eat on Oahu with views!
Sunsets in Waikiki are FREE!
Stop for a photo opp in the heart of Waikiki!
It’s the famous Hawaiian surfer statue of Oahu!
There is a FREE hula show in Waikiki right by the beach, usually in the evenings on Wednesday, and Saturday.
See updated timings for the Kuhio Beach hula show when your Oahu travel date gates closer.
You can also see a banyan tree on Oahu when you go to the hula show.
There is a big banyan tree in Waikiki at Kuhio Beach. (This also means you can see it any time… for free!)
See more about these free Oahu activities and beyond:
4. Waikiki marine life conservation district
5. Kuliouou Ridge Trail
The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is free to hike, but it’s better to have a car to get here. (bus map)
There is free parking near Kuliouou Ridge Trail along the residential streets.
6. Koko Head Hike
Basically you’re climbing straight up an old railway – the Koko Head hike has also been called nature’s stairmaster!
A strenuous hike that leads to amazing views!
You can get to Koko Head by bus… if you don’t mind walking an extra 10 to 15 minutes from the bus stop to the trailhead… which you shouldn’t because it will be a good warm up for the strenuous workout to come! 😉 (bus map)
There’s free parking at Koko Head.
7. Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
Paved coastal trail with chances of seeing whales from far away during whale season, which generally speaking is winter months.
There are binoculars on the trail, or bring your own!
Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is near Sea Life Park.
You can get to Makapuu Lighthouse Trail by bus… if you don’t mind an extra 15 minutes of walking (one way) along a busy road with fast cars. (bus map)
There’s free parking at Makapuu Lighthouse Trail.
8. Makapuu Beach
Try this beach for boogie boarding.
You can get to Makapuu Beach by bus if you don’t mind a few minutes of walking along a busy road with fast cars. (bus map)
There is free parking at Makapuu Beach.
Waiamanalo Beach is a picture-perfect beach on Oahu that gets less tourist visitors.
You can get to Waimanalo Beach by bus. (bus map)
There is free parking at Waimanalo Beach.
10. Lanikai Pillbox Hike
The Lanikai Pillbox hike is a 1 hour hike when you start on beach side that will give you ocean views and views of the famous twin islands.
You can find free street parking in a residential neighborhood near the Lanikai Pillbox hike… if you’re lucky! Parking spots are limited. This is the only parking option.
You may or may not think it’s possible to get to the Lanikai Pillbox hike by bus. You might need to walk 30 to 40 minutes from the bus stop to get to the start of the Lanikai Pillbox hike. (bus map)
But you can think of it as part of the hike… and then afterwards you can walk to Lanikai Beach!
11. Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is a picture-perfect white sand beach, along with views of the famous twin islands.
You can get to Lanikai Beach by bus. The more frequent bus route requires walking an extra 10 to 15 minutes to get there. Or, if you don’t mind waiting for the bus that goes into the Lanikai neighborhood, it will get you much closer. (map)
You can find free street parking in a residential neighborhood near Lanikai Beach… if you’re lucky! Parking spots are limited. This is the only parking option.
12. Kailua Beach
Kailua Beach is of the best beaches in East Oahu with beach facilities.
You can get to Kailua Beach by bus if you don’t mind walking an extra 10 minutes. (bus map)
There is free parking at Kailua Beach.
13. Sunset Beach
You can find many great things to do on the North Shore for free too!
Sunset Beach is a wide stretch of sand on the North Shore.
In winter, Sunset Beach is one of the best beaches for surfing on Oahu.
You can get to Sunset Beach by bus. (bus map)
There is free parking near Sunset Beach.
The Ehukai Pillbox hike is a 1-2 hour hike that will give you views of the North Shore coast.
You can get to Ehukai Pillbox hike by bus. (bus map)
There is free parking near the Ehukai Pillbox hike.
See more about this free Oahu activity:
15. Shark’s Cove
Sharks Cove is one of the best spots for snorkeling on the North Shore outside of winter surfing season.
You can get to Sharks Cove by bus. (bus map)
There is free parking near Sharks Cove.
16. Laniakea Beach
You might have a good chance of seeing turtles at Laniakea Beach also known as Turtle Beach.
You can get to Laniakea Beach by bus. (bus map)
There is free parking near Laniakea Beach… if you’re lucky! Parking spots are limited.
17. Keaiwa Heiau State Park
Keaiwa Heiau State Park is a visit to see an ancient sacred Hawaiian temple.
You can also hike the Aiea Loop Trail which is a 2-3 hour hike on a forest trail.
After your hike you can end it with a picnic in the park!
There is free parking at Keaiwa Heiau State Park.
It’s better to have a car to go here. (bus map)
18. King Kamehameha Statue
If you watch the Hawaii Five-0 TV show, this is kind of a mandatory photo stop!
You can get to the King Kamehameha Statue by bus. (bus map)
Across the street is the (not free) Iolani Palace… although you can see it for free from the outside!
19. Manoa Falls Trail
A popular 1-2 hour waterfall hike on a forest trail, one of the most popular waterfalls on Oahu.
You can get to Manoa Falls Trail by bus… if you don’t mind an extra 15 to 20 minutes of walking to get to the start of the trail. (bus map)
There is parking at Manoa Falls, but it is not free. It’s about $8.
More need-to-know about your cheap day trips from Waikiki without a car!
Figuring out which bus to take on Oahu is easy! Just consult google maps!
Enter your destination, then select the public transit option.
You can see little bus icons on the map that indicate bus stops.
To further ease your mind about riding the bus, see the visual: How to take the Oahu bus!
You should buy a HOLO card before you take the bus.
This card is not necessary since you can pay the bus fare in cash once you get on the bus (exact change), but it will make things easier.
The HOLO card is basically a cash card that will serve as your Oahu bus pass.
You can load it up with cash, or you can load it up online with your credit card.
But first you need to buy the HOLO card in person. You cannot buy this on the bus.
You can buy a HOLO card at any ABC Store in Waikiki.
You will need minimum $5 cash to get started ($2 for the card + $3 minimum bus fare), and then you can load the rest online. (Or, you can just pay in cash however much you want to load up the HOLO card!)
And there’s a bit about some free things to do in Oahu!
HAPPY DOING LOTS OF FREE THINGS ON OAHU!
More of the best things to do in Hawaii for VIEWS!
- Things to do in Oahu
- Things to do in Maui
- Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Things to do in Kona
- Things to do on the Big Island
- Things to do in Lanai
There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
More for your Oahu packing list
- How a cheapo waterproof phone case works
- Why wear water shoes for the beach
- Why a personal swim buoy is an essential for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean
- Essentials to pack for Hawaii
- Best shoes for Hawaii