Free Things to Do in Waikiki

By Olena Heu

Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Aussie Active.

For decades, Waikiki has long been a vibrant and exciting well-visited playground on Oahu. With an abundance of eateries, beaches, shops, activities and accommodations, you’ll never be bored. You’ll also be pleased to know there are many activities and memorable moments to be had that are completely free.

Just Beach It

Kaimana Beach and the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium, Oahu. Photo: Waikiki Natatorium.

Legendary Waikiki Beach has long been heralded as one of the most famous stretches of sand and sea in the world. With 3 miles of pristine oceanfront views (from Duke Kahanamoku Beach to Kaimana Beach) you could spend the day exploring the water, walking along the coastline and relaxing on the soft sand. Grab your towel, chair, some sunscreen and enjoy this iconic location known across the globe.

Hear the Rhythm of the Islands

Waikiki, Oahu. Photo: adam_gulkis.

Waikiki is also synonymous with live music and dancing. Many shopping centers, hotels and restaurants showcase live entertainment in and around the region from jazz and rock to traditional Hawaiian blends and more. For our comprehensive guide profiling where to enjoy live music in Waikiki, click here.

Visit the Blue Lagoon

Duke Kahanamoku lagoon and beach as seen from the air. Photo: Anthony Consillio.

If you wander along the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, then head toward the beach you’ll spot a majestic and enticing saltwater lagoon. The perfect place to picnic, lounge and swim, the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon is a favorite for families, for water enthusiasts and for taking breathtaking photos. Fresh deep seawater is pumped into the lagoon daily and the white shoreline and green grassy surrounding grounds, are a popular retreat for locals and visitors.

See a Show

Hawaiian culture is celebrated every day at Royal Hawaiian Center with a variety of complimentary cultural-arts activities such as hula instruction, lauhala weaving, lei-making, ‘ukulele classes, and live entertainment featuring Hawaiian music and hula performances. Photo: Royal Hawaiian Center.

Iconic luaus and Polynesian shows abound on the island, but if you would like a complimentary taste there are several options in Waikiki.

The Kuhio Beach Hula Show showcases authentic Hawaiian entertainment Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings (weather permitting). The entertainment begins with a torch-lighting followed by conch-shell blowing and a complimentary hula performance on the mound on Kalakaua Avenue near Uluniu Avenue. The free one hour show is held 6:30-7:30 pm and 6-7 pm during the winter months.

The Royal Grove Hula Show located at Royal Hawaiian Center hosts some of Hawaii’s hottest entertainment. Local musicians serenade guests and passersby at a nightly Hawaiian music and hula show at The Royal Grove Monday – Friday 6-7 pm.

International Market Place Hula Show pays homage to Hawaii’s past monarch, Queen Emma, and begins with a procession along Kalakaua Avenue that leads to the Queen’s Court. The Polynesian show is 30 minutes long and includes authentic Hawaiian hula and Tahitian dancing. The live entertainment starts at twilight/sunset and is performed nightly.

Swim Till Your Heart’s Content

Waikiki Beach. Photo: Aussie Active.

With many miles of open ocean, you could swim all day long along Waikiki Beach. Purchase a floaty at the nearby convenience store for about $5, and you can float in the azure blue Pacific Ocean for hours. Waikiki is also a popular spot for snorkeling, stand-up paddling, catamarans and surfing. You could always borrow a friend’s surfboard, or standup paddle board, for a day of wave riding too. Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings, note the tide, current and never turn your back to the ocean.

Stay Fit

Jogger in Kapiolani Park, Waikiki. Photo: Chris Hunkeler.

For those immersed in an active lifestyle, Waikiki is an ideal location not only for its open ocean and sandy shoreline, but for an abundance of fitness options. From tennis, beach volleyball, rugby and soccer there’s something for everyone in and around Waikiki. Visit these locations for various outdoor event venues and fitness-focused activities:
Ala Moana Beach Park
Diamond Head Tennis Center
Fort DeRussy Beach Park
Kapiolani Park

Just Park It

Kapiolani Park, Waikiki. Photo: .

Seeking reprieve from the hot sun and looking for a nice shady soft spot to rest and relax? From rolling hills to an abundance of vast flatland parks and cool shady areas, Waikiki boasts the ideal location for your leisure, picnic, barbecue or stroll. Public parks serve as a free oasis from the busy streets and frequented beaches nearby.

Sunset and Chill

waikiki sunset

Waikiki Sunset. Photo: Hawaii.com member Fahreen Kara.

The sunset views from Honolulu’s south shore are simply spectacular! Grab a spot along the beachfront, sit and enjoy as colors of sherbet, fuchsia and sometimes various hues of purple mesmerize your eyes. The sunsets in Hawaii vary depending on the time of year, around 7 pm during the summer and 5 pm during winter months.

Friday Night Fireworks

Fireworks light up the night sky and bring revelers out to the beach to celebrate. Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson.

Start your weekend with a bang. The Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts a weekly Friday night fireworks show, viewable from afar but even more exhilarating from the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon and beach. The show is held at 7:45 pm, is about 10 minutes in length and boasts an impressive finale set to a tune of music (if you are close enough to the hotel’s Rockin Hawaiian Rainbow Revue held just prior to the free fireworks display). This is a must-see so be sure to enjoy this impressive fireworks presentation.

With so much to do and see while in Waikiki enjoy every moment, relax in the sun or shade and prepare to be thoroughly entertained. Our recommendations for free things to do will also lessen the impact on your pocketbook.

To explore more cool things to do in Hawaii and to book your activities, please visit www.hawaii.com/things-to-do.

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