Planning a trip to Oahu on a budget and want to know some cheap things to do on Oahu HI? Keep scrolling to find out how to have a cheap vacation in Oahu that rocks!
This list of cheap things to do on Oahu on a budget was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
The cost of a trip to Hawaii can quickly add up, but don’t worry! You can find plenty of cheap things to do in Oahu.
Oahu is the most-visited island in Hawaii. Almost twice as many tourists come to Oahu every year over Maui, the second most-visited island.
Unfortunately, due to the availability of these higher-priced activities, Oahu has gotten the reputation of being an expensive place to visit.
But nothing could be further from the truth!
There’s enough to do on Oahu that you can keep everyone in the family entertained, from grandparents and parents to moody teens and kids! There are even plenty of free family things to do on Oahu too!
If you are traveling with little ones, be sure to check out my complete Family Guide to Oahu!
Maybe you’re actively planning a trip, or you’re just experiencing a bad case of Wanderlust. You’ll find something that excites you on my list of Top Cheap 10 Things to do on Oahu, Hawaii, for $10 or Under!
That way, you can enjoy going to Oahu for cheap. From the free things to do Oahu has to offer to the cheap places to go in Oahu, you’ll find it all here!
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu on a budget.
Best Budget-Friendly Oahu Tours/Activities
- Mele Luau (you can skip dinner and just pay to watch the show at a fraction of the price)
- Glass Bottom Boat (this is cheaper than the submarine ride and still really cool)
- 2-Hour Whale Watching Tour (this is a short and affordable boat tour during winter months)
- Waikiki Snorkel with Turtles Cruise (this is one of the cheapest snorkeling tours on Oahu)
- Shaka Driving App (it’s like going on an island tour at a fraction of the price)
Best Budget-Friendly Oahu Hotels
- Aloha Suites Waikiki (this is on the quieter end of Waikiki near the Honolulu Zoo and Diamond Head)
- Waikiki Marina Resort (it’s right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and walkable to Ala Moana Center)
- Kailua Vacation Rental (this is perfect for those wanting to escape Waikiki for a quieter part of Oahu)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Oahu Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
10 Cheap Things to do on Oahu for $10 or Less
If you’d like to explore Oahu without sacrificing your entire travel budget, you’ll definitely want to check out these spots!
Here are some of the best things to do in Oahu for cheap!
1. Find a Comfy Spot in the Sand!
One of the biggest reasons for visiting Hawaii is the beach, right?
You’ll be happy to know many beach activities are completely free! You can sit on the sand, go swimming, go snorkeling, and more!
Plus, public beaches are free in Oahu. The most popular (and populated!) beach is definitely Waikiki. No matter what you want to do, you’ll probably find it along this 2-mile stretch of beach.
Be sure to check out the Waikiki Beach section of this guide before you go to find the section of the beach that best fits what you’re looking for.
Plus, there are lots of things to do in Waikiki on a budget. Find out my 25 favorite things to do in Waikiki!
And don’t overlook Oahu’s beach parks. These are public beaches with acreage and all kinds of great amenities. Two of the best are Lydgate Beach Park and Ala Moana Beach Park.
If you want to try snorkeling, your family will love Shark’s Cove. Here you will see a few sea life and tropical fish. Check out other top snorkeling places on Oahu
To see a gorgeous sunset, don’t overlook Sunset Beach. Waikiki Beach also has some awesome places to view a sunset.
If you plan on surfing, try either Waikiki Beach or Ehukai Beach Park in Haleiwa.
One of the most beautiful beaches free to visit is Lanikai Beach. This sandy beach is located in Kailua . One of the fun things to do in Oahu with your family is to take some stunning beach family photos here!
If you want to see some sea turtles, Laniakea Beach is perfect for you!
Visiting the beach is one of the best free things to do in Oahu!
2. Take in the History at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Another one of the things to do in Honolulu for cheap is to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
There’s honestly so much to see that it could be spread out into several days. I’m not sure we even got to everything the last time we were there.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is open 7 days a week, from 7 AM to 5 PM. It’s free to visit, and it’s easy to explore Pearl Harbor with kids.
I definitely suggest paying the nominal $1 per ticket price to reserve tickets in advance online. You’ll want to do this, especially if you’re planning a visit during tourist season. Plus, it still makes it one of the Honolulu cheap things to do.
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is free to enjoy as well at this historic site of World War II.
Once you arrive, you’ll understand why Pearl Harbor is one of the top things to do on Oahu for families. And it’s so easy to get to Pearl Harbor from Waikiki.
If you are looking for affordable things to do in Honolulu, Pearl Harbor is definitely a stop you will want to take during your trip.
3. Try Island Food!
Now, I know everyone says this, but you really can’t beat Hawaiian food!
The best part is that the food is just everyday meals for Hawaiian. That means visitors can snag a deal if they know where to look! You can consider it one of the local things to do in Oahu.
Poke is fresh, sushi-grade fish, usually cut and served in a bento box or over rice in a poke bowl. Foodland has consistently been hailed as the best poke in Hawaii, and it’s on my must-visit list when we’re in Oahu! Plus, it is only about $10, making it one of the ways to visit Oahu on the cheap.
Shave Ice is another Hawaiian classic. And it’s bigger, tastier, and more colorful than its predecessor, the snow cone! Hawaiian shave ice is the perfect thing to cool you off after an afternoon on the beach. When visiting Oahu, you will definitely want one. There are so many fun flavors to choose from!
Malasadas are Portuguese-inspired, hole-less doughnuts. And there is only one place locals will send you when you ask where to find one: Leonard’s Bakery. You can choose to fill a puff or get an original.
And you can’t get doughnuts like this anywhere else. But I have a recipe for coconut-filled malasadas that comes pretty close!
One of the fun, cheap things to do in Oahu is to get some local food. We do it every time we visit the islands.
4. Let Someone Else Worry about Transportation!
If you’re staying in or near Waikiki, you can totally get away with not renting a car. That can save you a TON of money.
Something unique to Oahu is its public transportation system TheBus. A one-day pass for adults is currently $5.50, and for youth is $2.50.
TheBus goes all around the island and stops at a lot of tourist attractions or Oahu points of interest.
In fact, they have 518 buses with 110 daily routes! Grab a map, hop on TheBus, and enjoy the scenery as you travel the island of Oahu.
That way, you can visit some of the free and cheap things to do in Oahu, Hawaii, as you go all around the island.
5. Hike Historic Diamond Head!
Diamond Head State Monument has been a symbol of Hawaii since before extensive oceanic travel was possible. You can see it on all kinds of vintage travel posters.
Today, it offers some of the most popular and scenic hiking trails in Oahu. The ancient volcanic crater offers views of the coastline of Oahu that can’t be rivaled.
And the entrance fee is only $5 per person, which makes it one of the best cheap things to do in Oahu.
This hike is doable for even the littlest walkers and would be a shame to miss during your time on Oahu! Check out our top tips for hiking Diamond Head with kids.
To get a jump start before crowding becomes an issue, plan to get there early to hike Diamond Head. You can visit every day except Wednesday when the monument is closed.
And keep in mind that the last entry is 4 PM, so don’t wait too late in the day to hit up this Oahu attraction.
As of May 12th, 2022, all out-of-state visitors must have an advanced reservation to enter Diamond Head State Monument. Make your reservations HERE.
Hiking Diamond Head Crater is another one of the best cheap activities in Honolulu, Hawaii if you are on a tight budget.
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels in Hawaii.
6. Visit the Dole Plantation!
For the uninitiated, Dole is a company that grows tropical fruit, namely pineapples. A LOT of pineapples!
You’ll pass it on your way up to the North Shore, and it’s actually one of the biggest tourist attractions in Hawaii. Also, it’s one of the top-rated family things to do in Oahu.
It’s actually free to walk around Dole Plantation and take advantage of their cute photo ops. But once you’re there, you’ll probably want to upgrade to do an activity.
There are several tours available. If you’re looking to stay within budget, I suggest either the Garden Tour or the Garden Maze.
Take a look at the different activities being offered and see what looks fun for you.
While it does cost to do some of activities, it is still one of the most inexpensive things to do on Oahu, especially along the North Shore.
7. Nurture Your Green Thumb at the Botanical Gardens!
Foster Botanical Garden is the older of the 2, with some trees dating back to the 1850s. It costs a few dollars per person. And Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden is free! It’s newer and focuses on the native plant species of Hawaii.
If you are looking for free things to do in Honolulu, you will love the Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden.
But one of the most famous ones (at least on Instagram) is the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. This one is also free to visit! It’s known for its gorgeous entrance, but there are actually tons of things to do there.
Needless to say, visiting a botanical garden is one of the prettiest and most affordable things to see on Oahu.
8. Visit a Coffee Farm!
Being from the Seattle area, you would think we know everything there is to know about coffee. However, something we don’t have in the Pacific Northwest is the right climate to grow coffee!
This is something Hawaii does have, so we take advantage of it whenever we get a chance to visit! It’s interesting to see the varieties you can only get in Hawaii.
And you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to try it. And coffee farms are free to visit. A great one on Oahu is the Waialua Estate up on the North Shore.
It’s about as perfect of a growing condition as coffee beans could ask for. Stop by for a sample and maybe even a free guided tour if someone is available!
It is one of the more unusual things to do in Oahu, but another one of the inexpensive things to do in Oahu that will be worth your while.
Save Money with Points
Here are the best credit card offers for families who travel and want to use points to pay for airfare and hotels in Hawaii.
9. Take in a Free Hula Show!
As a former hula dancer, there is no way I wouldn’t include this as an option! This is one of the best things to do on Oahu with kids and one of the top cheap things to do in Waikiki, Hawaii.
If you are looking for a scheduled hula dance for free, the Kuhio Beach Torchlighting and Hula Show has scheduled occurrences 3 times a week.
There are also awesome free hula shows at the Royal Hawaiian Center and Ala Moana Shopping Center in throughout the week.
Otherwise, keep your ears open as you stroll along Waikiki Beach each evening. There’s bound to be a free show at one of the many hotels along the beachfront!
Your kids will love these hula shows as one of the best cheap things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii!
10. Learn How to Dance Hula Yourself!
This one is a bit dependent on where you’re staying. Some of the hotels in Honolulu offer free hula lessons. You just have to ask!
Another place to check out would be the Royal Hawaiian Center. During the tourist season, they’ve been known to have regular (free!) hula dancing lessons that anyone and everyone can participate in.
Go a step past watching the hula. Learn about its history and the Hawaiian culture by learning how to dance yourself! I mean, this definitely one of the best free Oahu activities.
BONUS: Go Shopping at the World’s Largest Shopping Center!
While staying under $10 here might require more discipline than I have, I’m sure it can be done!
With over 300 stores to choose from, you’re bound to find something to test that discipline you have!
And their food court is pretty incredible. It’s a great place to find cheap eats on Oahu.
Oahu Cheap Things To Do FAQs
The easiest way to save money on your Oahu vacation is to travel off-season. Hotels, rental cars, and even some activities will be much cheaper. And take advantage of all the free things to do on Oahu, like free hula shows, live music, and parks. Some of the best things to see on Oahu are free!
The best way to save money on food is to hit up the local grocery stores, Costco, and farmers markets. This way, you can make your own meals at a fraction of the cost. Lunch tends to be cheaper than dinner, so make that your splurge meal. You can also take advantage of Oahu food trucks and happy hour deals.
Your best bet for saving money on airfare and hotels is to travel to Oahu during the shoulder season, which runs from mid-April to June and September to mid-December. Avoid any school breaks or holidays.
This all depends on what you want to do each day and how much you will eat. Food costs around $50 to $75 per person per day. Then you will just need to figure out what activities you plan to do. If you do any of the Oahu free things to do, you will need to bring even less money per day too!
Luckily, there are plenty of inexpensive things to do in Honolulu, and most of them are free too! Visit the Hawaii State Art Museum for a few hours, enjoy Waikiki beaches, watch a free hula show, and learn about Hawaiian history. Finish off your day with the free fireworks in Waikiki each Friday night, one of the romantic things to do on Oahu.
There are plenty of cheap things to do in Hawaii, especially in Oahu. Some of the coolest things to do on Oahu are cheap or free, so you will love your budget-friendly trip to the islands! Some of the free and underrated things to do in Oahu include visiting the Dole Plantation, window shopping at the largest outdoor shopping mall, go snorkeling at Shark’s Cove, free hula shows, and plenty of other great adventures.
On Friday night, you can enjoy free fireworks put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Usually, they start around 7:45 PM. It is one of the cool things to do on Oahu on a budget that the entire family will love! You might also see some hula shows as well. There are tons of cheap activities to do in Honolulu, Hawaii, you will love, even at night!
Free and Cheap Things to Do In Oahu Wrap-Up
Sometimes the most affordable things to do on Oahu are the best ones.
Those of us traveling to Oahu are lucky. With all the tourists that visit each year, companies that cater to visitors have sprung up and flourished. Their success has allowed them to offer activities at a much more discounted rate than other islands!
You might want to sit beach-side and relax, or to ride TheBus until you see somewhere interesting to shop. Rest easy knowing that you will be able to find something to do that fits both your interests and your budget.
These are some of the cheap activities Oahu has to offer.
Which of the Top 10 Things to do on Oahu for $10 or Under are you most excited to try?