Hawaii on a Budget
One great thing about Oahu is the abundance of amazing and free things to do. If you want to experience Hawaii on a budget, check out the following ideas for a fulfilling vacation without breaking the bank.
1. Oahu Hikes
Oahu offers some incredible hikes of all lengths and difficulty. There’s no better way to explore and appreciate the island than going on a hike. There are so many hikes that most won’t even show up in an internet search, and some that do show up are actually illegal due to being dangerous and not maintained (Sacred Falls – Closed). Additionally, many hikers have difficulty finding specific hikes because there are no official trailheads. We have personally done many of the hikes here and know people who have done them all so we can give you current, accurate advice on which hikes best suit you.
Some of our favorites are hikes to waterfalls. We love the natural beauty they offer, as well as being able to cliff jump and swim in the pools below. If you’re an adrenaline junky, ridge hikes will get your heart pounding! At the top, Oahu’s mountains are narrow (a few feet wide) and feature sheer drops on both sides with absolutely breathtaking views. Valley hikes are lush with foliage as you traverse through the jungle. And finally, there are hikes that get you up high to see the beautiful water and island without the danger of being on a narrow ridge. There are many of these hikes to pillboxes from World War II and the popular hike to Diamond Head Crater (Diamond Head State Park).
Whatever your style, we can help you choose the best hikes for your vacation to Hawaii on a budget!
Check out a list of awesome hikes here: Blog: Oahu Hikes
2. Oahu Sights
Over 5 million people visited Oahu in 2015 (Hawaii Visitor Stats)… and there’s a good reason for that! Oahu is one of the most beautiful places on earth and there are plenty of awesome things to see for free.
You can take a drive to scenic lookouts, go to the best beaches or secret spots to watch the sunset, and even see a free firework show every week in Waikiki (Hilton Friday Fireworks). As huge waves come crashing to shore, water and mist shoot up through blowholes and you can experience the strength of the tide in below-ground caves. At certain beaches you’re almost sure to see turtles and in the months of December through March you can spot humpback whales. Rock formations near the ocean create tidepools with crystal clear water. Status of King Kamehameha and Duke Kahanamoku can be photographed in Honolulu, as well as ancient Hawaiian temples and other structures scattered throughout the island.
If you’re looking to see Hawaii on a budget, Oahu has plenty to offer.
3. Oahu Attractions
For most of the attractions in Hawaii there is a price of admission, but one of my favorites, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, is free (USS Arizona). Tickets go on sale 90 days in advance—if you like to plan ahead make sure to get them as soon as you can because depending on the time of year they can sell out within minutes. If you don’t get tickets ahead of time you can also just show up and you have a decent chance getting in on standby. Participants begin by watching a great, sobering film on the attack on Pearl Harbor and then board a small boat bound for the memorial that sits on the USS Arizona, which was sunk and is still the watery grave for thousands of sailors.
We highly recommend seeing the USS Arizona—other than that there are a few small museums and tropical botanical gardens you can walk through for your trip to Hawaii on a budget.
4. Oahu Beaches
Finally, the beaches–and some of the best in the world! Whether you want to relax and maybe take the occasional dip in the ocean or want an adventure-packed ride below and above the water, Oahu’s beaches have something for you.
Depending on which month you’re on Oahu, the same beach could be as flat and calm as can be, or literally have waves as tall as a four-story building (Eddie Aikau Waimea Surf Competition), so let us help you plan! Regardless of the time of year, there are beaches that are secluded, if being around tons of people bothers you, and there are some that are constantly packed with people (like Waikiki beach).
For a nominal fee, you can rent surfboards, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and snorkel gear. Obviously, certain beaches are best depending on which activity you want to do. Some have rocks to jump off and tunnels to swim through below. Some are good for calm paddle boarding and some will send you on a Hawaiian roller coaster ride. Most beaches on the windward (east) side are relatively shallow and most on the west side are very deep.
There’s no better place to be, if you’re in Hawaii on a budget, than Oahu’s world-renowned beaches.