Hiking on O'ahu

Top 5 Free & Fun Things to Do on Oʻahu

So, you’re in Hawaiʻi, and you already spent a lot of money to get here, not to mention on your hotel and rental car. What’s there to do that’s free around here, and awesome too? Check out these best things to do in O’ahu for free.

Watch the Sun Set at Magic Island

You know the old saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do?” Well, if you want to end a beautiful day in paradise the way Honolulu locals do, take a late-afternoon stroll at Magic Island in Ala Moana Beach Park. You’ll find locals of every stripe here, enjoying a variety of outdoor fun things to do in O’ahu: picnics, swimming, fishing, jogging, and roller skating. You’ll also see plenty of other visitors taking advantage of the lovely photo op, especially newlyweds.

Wander Through the World’s Largest Open-Air Mall

Ala Moana Shopping Center is a true shopper’s paradise, but you don’t need a cent to enjoy its promenades, koi ponds, center-stage concerts, and of course, prime people-watching. It’s conveniently close to Waikīkī, and offers a great variety of stores for browsing and window shopping enjoyment, as well as numerous eateries ranging from upscale to casual.

Check Out Chinatown

If you enjoy urban landscapes as much as natural ones, then Honolulu’s Chinatown is definitely worth a visit. This downtown area has always been the urban heart of the city, and is conveniently close to such landmarks as ʻIolani Palace, Hawaiʻi State Library, and the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum (also free!). Chinatown is full of abundant produce, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and lately, trendy art galleries and nightlife. First Fridays are especially great times to visit, with special events and galleries open late.

Go Hiking

Oahu, once you get out of the city, is something of a hiker’s paradise, with lots of easily-accessible trails leading up into those lush mountains. Makiki, Mānoa, St. Louis Heights, ʻAiea Loop, and Makapuʻu are all great trail areas to explore. Do yourself a favor, though, and stay away from popular but illegal trails such as the Stairway to Heaven; too many hikers have had to be rescued from this dangerous site. There are lots of safe and legal trails to enjoy! Hiking remains one of the best things to do in O’ahu and is absolutely free!

Go to the Beach

Of course, the beach is always a free and fun thing to do in O’ahu, and you know there are plenty to choose from. Whether you prefer sunbathing, windsurfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling, or just swimming, Oʻahu’s many beaches offer you endless free pleasures. Depending on how far you feel like driving, there are great beaches to choose from right in town, or on the other side of the island. The choice is yours!