10 Free Activities in Waikiki Beach

A smiling young woman takes a selfie in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue in Waikiki, Hawaii.

10 Free Activities in Waikiki Beach

by Suzanne G., November 27, 2023

While Waikiki is known for its beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, and fine dining, there are also plenty of free activities to enjoy for those looking to save a little money. Swimming, relaxing on the sandy beaches, and appreciating the natural beauty everywhere you turn is always free, of course. But should you tire of that, here are ten more free activities to do while in Waikiki.  

  1. Enjoy one of the many free Hula shows and cultural events held throughout the area.  
Close up of hula dancer.
Local venues frequently host free hula shows and cultural demonstrations.
  • Kuhio Beach Hula Show – Enjoy authentic Hawaiian Music and hula on the beach every Tuesday, Saturday, and the last Sunday of the month. (You must bring your own beach chair or towel to sit on, though). 
  • Waikiki Beach Walk Plaza – Ku Ha’aheo, featuring live music and traditional hula, is held every Tuesday afternoon. Other free events are also held in the marketplace throughout the year.  
  • International Marketplace -The O Na Lani Sunset Stories hula show is held three nights a week, although exact times vary depending on the season.  
  • Royal Hawaiian Center – This venue frequently hosts hula dance troupes, musicians, rooftop stargazing events, and free cultural classes in weaving, lei making, ukulele, and hula lessons for adults and kids.   
  • Ala Moana Center – The shopping mall presents a daily hula show every day at 5 p.m. on its center stage.
  1. Street fairs, festivals, and parades. Waikiki frequently hosts fun, festive, and free special events. Check the events calendar and see what’s happening while you’re in town.  
Dragonfruit for sale at a Waikiki area farmer's market.
Farmer’s Markets are the best place to find local produce and products.
  1. Go to a Farmer’s Market. Farmer’s markets on Oahu are abundant and held throughout the week, in several different locations. You’ll get an opportunity to mingle with local vendors, sample their wares,  and see all the local produce, seafood, fresh flowers, exotic fruits, and arts & crafts up close. And there are plenty of ready-to-eat foods to choose from as well, from simple baked goods to gourmet cuisine.    
  1. Window shop on Luxury Row. Kalakaua Avenue is the main shopping and dining district in Waikiki where you can find everything from cheap souvenirs to high-end stores within a few city blocks. The 2100 block is home to top-tier brands like Chanel, Gucci, and St. Laurent. It is the Rodeo Drive of Hawaii, yet also located right in the center of a busy pedestrian area. These stores are a big draw for curious tourists and serious shoppers, so don’t think twice about popping in just to take a look around.     
  1. Wander through all the beautiful, historic hotels. Waikiki has no shortage of beautiful luxurious resorts, but several area hotels are an attraction themselves. Firstly, is the Moana Surfrider which was the first hotel built in Waikiki in 1901. The National Registry of Historic Places has recognized this historic ground-breaking hotel. The Royal Hawaiian is another Waikiki fixture with a storied past and unique architecture. While some areas will be off-limits to non-guests, most hotels in Waikiki have bars, restaurants, and shops that are open to the public. Almost all hotel lobbies are breezy, open-air spaces filled with curious people just checking things out. Also, beachside bars and restaurants often have live music that you can enjoy whether you are a patron or not. Note: All beaches are public in Hawaii.   
The Royal Hawaiian is one of the oldest and most interesting hotels in Waikiki Beach.
  1. See the Duke. one of the most photographed places in Waikiki is the iconic bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku on Kuhio Beach. Known as the “father of modern surfing”, Duke was also an Olympic gold medalist, Hollywood actor, and Hawaii’s first ambassador of goodwill. Today his statue welcomes visitors with outstretched arms.    
  1. Take the Beach Walk. Walk from one end of Waikiki to the other via the Beach Walk. From the west side of Waikiki, the begins at the Hawaiian Hilton Village, near the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. It is a mostly paved path that continues from the lagoon to the Kaimana Beach Hotel, the last hotel in Waikiki Beach. The walk is about two miles one way. There are a few spots where there is a break in the sidewalk where you’ll have to walk on sand, but it is a lovely walk, regardless. Note: There is also a Waikiki Beach Walk shopping plaza, which was mentioned in number 1.   
  1. Watch the Friday Night Fireworks. The Hawaiian Hilton Village holds a short fireworks display every Friday night. The best place to view the fireworks is from the beach near the Hilton’s lagoon unless you happen to have an unobstructed view of that area from your hotel. 
  1. Drive to the Tantalus Mountain Lookout. Located in the Tantalus Mountains just outside of town. The pullout offers stunning views of the ocean and Waikiki. It is a fantastic spot to watch the sunset or take in the Friday night fireworks display.  
  1. Walk, drive, or bike to the Amelia Earhart Marker & Lookout: Look for the easy-to-miss marker dedicated to the famed pilot, who was the first person to fly alone from Hawaii to North America. The lookout is located on Oahu’s south shore near Diamond Head Crater. It offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is a great spot to take in the sunset.  

Bonus: Nearly Free Activities in Waikiki

Aerial view of Diamond Head Crater with Waikiki Beach and Honolulu in the background.
Diamond Head Crater offers stunning views of Waikiki and Honolulu.
  1. Hike to Diamond Head Crater. Diamond Head is the most popular hike on Oahu for good reason. This 1.8-mile hike takes you up the rim of a long-dormant volcano that overlooks Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean. The mostly paved trail takes you through tunnels and up many stairs and switchbacks, but the view from the top is worth it. It is the best view of Oahu that you can find without a helicopter. The state parks department requires reservations and charges a $5 entry fee. Also, parking at the trailhead is $10 per vehicle. 
  1. Waikiki Aquarium. The entry fee is ordinarily $12, but you can get a free 14-day pass by attending the Diamond Head Luau. Diamond Head holds small, intimate nightly luaus on the aquarium grounds. It features a unique dining experience that is perfect for foodies. The aquarium is a great way to spend some downtime and the pass is a nice freebie if you were already planning on attending a luau. Click here for more info.    

More on Hawaii Luaus