With so many free things to do in Waikiki, there is really no reason to fork out a lot of cash on activities. From torch lighting and hula shows to hands-on classes in Hawaiian arts and crafts, this visitor “Mecca” has a lot of offerings to keep you busy – and entertain and educate at the same time! Here are some of my favorite “free” things to do in Waikiki…
1. Aloha Friday at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki - Each Friday afternoon, the Hyatt presents a Polynesian show with hula dancers, a Samoan fire-knife dancer, and hands-on demonstrations of lei-making and Polynesian art tattooing. Other afternoons during the week bring cultural classes like ukulele playing and storytelling…and you don’t have to stay at the resort…although it is a lovely choice!
2. Kuhio Beach Torch Lighting and Hula Show – Four nights each week at sunset, the blowing of the conch shell summons folks to the Kuhio Beach hula mound near Waikiki’s famous statue of Duke Kahanamoku. There, you witness a traditional torch lighting ceremony followed by one hour of free, feel-good hula by talented local dancers and entertainers.
3. Royal Hawaiian Band Concerts – Founded by King Kamehameha III in 1836, this one-of-a-kind ensemble serenades crowds with songs of the islands – past and present. Look for them each Sunday afternoon in the bandstand inside the 500-acre Kapiolani Park. The park itself is a fabulous free attraction, popular with picnickers and joggers.
4. Royal Hawaiian Center Classes & Entertainment – Take ukulele or hula lessons, learn how to make traditional Hawaiian quilts, weave a lei using fresh tropical flowers, or try your hand at the art of lomi lomi massage, all at this multi-level shopping center. It also presents live music and hula shows most evenings...open to the public! See royalhawaiiancenter.com for schedules.
5. Sunset on the Beach – Waikiki Beach turns into a huge outdoor theater presenting free, family-friendly movies on a 30-foot screen about once a month. Late afternoon, live entertainment kicks things off, with vendors and food trucks selling affordable and “ono” (yummy) eats. Be sure to check the online schedule at www.waikikiimprovement.com
6. Wildlife and Fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village – There’s no charge to watch the Hilton’s wildlife experts feed the penguins and turtles that live on its grounds. On Friday evenings, the resort presents visitors and locals alike with an Oceanside fireworks show, which is best viewed from the beach….a colorful and exciting way to have fun for free in Waikiki!
7. People-Watching – This is my own favorite pastime in Waikiki so I thought I would add it. Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures and you will see just about everything you could imagine – and more that you couldn’t even dream up! Japanese visitors will be on the beach super early doing their morning Tai chi and exercise…Street artists line Kalakaua Avenue in the evenings, providing some incredibly original “selfie” opportunities (don’t forget to tip!), and older couples in their matching Aloha-wear walk hand-in-hand next to surfers and goth-looking youngsters...Take it all in!
So don’t let the fear of “I heard Hawaii is super expensive!” keep you from planning that vacation! We are well-informed on these, and many more, free and cheap options to keep you going from sunrise to sunset! Just do it!
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