While visiting Oahu can be costly, there are plenty of free and low cost ways to enjoy the island with kids. Renting a car to get around the island will give you more options. But if you’re staying in Waikiki, it’s a breeze to walk to many attractions or utilize the good public transportation system.
Here’s a sampling of 10 free things to do with kids on Oahu.
Museum exhibits and a movie tell the story of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. A short boat ride brings visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial built over the sunken wreckage, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on Dec. 7, 1941. Oil still oozes from the sunken ship. Arrive early to beat the crowds.
Royal Hawaiian Center
Learn the hula, how to play the ukulele, string a lei and more at this vibrant downtown shopping center that offers free cultural classes. More family fun includes interactive storytelling and performances by top island entertainers. There’s always something exciting happening here — in addition to great shopping and dining.
Steps from Honolulu Zoo and Diamond Head, the 500-acre park was created by King Kalakaua in the 1870s. Shaded picnic sites and grassy areas invite families to relax, play and fly a kite. The Royal Hawaiian Band provides free concerts every Sunday afternoon in the Kapiolani Bandstand.
Sunset on the Beach, Waikiki
Kick back on Queen’s Surf Beach and watch family-friendly movies on a 30-foot screen on select weekends. Bring towels or chairs and arrive early to hear free live music. What better place to watch a sunset and relax with the kids for a movie?
Spanning several blocks in the old section of Honolulu, Chinatown is fun to visit during the day when you can buy fresh leis, eat authentic Chinese food, look at noodle factories and sample yummy local items. Try Chinese Malasadas — deep fried donuts with a sweet red bean paste filling.
Hawaii State Art Museum
See the works of some of Hawaii’s best artists. Located across the street from Iolani Palace and the State Capitol in Honolulu, the museum has three galleries and an outdoor tiled lanai. Closed Mondays.
Located off the Kalanianole Highway north of Hanauma Bay, the lookout at Halona Blowhole offers great views of the coastline and Molokai and Lanai. Kids will be wowed by water shooting up from the blowhole, formed by molten lava tubes. The bigger the waves, the higher the gush of water. During the winter months, there’s a good chance of seeing Humpback Whales.
Kailua and Lanikai Beaches
Play in calm turquoise water and relax on soft white sand at the lovely beaches of Kailua and Lanikai on the windward side of the island. At Kailua, trees line the sand and shade a large park with picnic tables. There’s also a bike path and bathroom/shower facilities. Plenty of parking makes it easy to access the beach and park.
Stretch your legs on a two-mile, roundtrip paved trail that overlooks the lighthouse built in 1909 on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapuu Beach. The islands of Molokai and Lanai are visible on a clear day.
Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show
Experience a Hawaiian tradition with the sounding of a conch shell signaling the lighting of torches at sunset. Hang out for the free hula show near the Duke Kahanamoku Statue in Waikiki.