11 Cheap But Fun Things To Do In Hawaii

Hawaii is a popular tourist destination and is one of the more expensive places to visit and live.  I have been living here in Honolulu for a while now and decided to put together a list of some cheap but fun things to do in Hawaii.

Even though Honolulu, Hawaii usually ranks in the top 3 most expensive places to live in the U.S there are still a lot of great activities that won’t break your bank account.  I recommend these things for visitors and locals.

11 Cheap Things to Do in Hawaii

1. Enjoy the Sunset – Go for a jog or swim before dinner and enjoy the sunset.  Apparently there is a “green flash” which is what I always like to look for when viewing a sunset.  It happens when the sun suddenly changes color.

Cost: Free

North Shore
Photo Credit

2. Watch Surfers Ride Mountains – If your fortunate to visit during the winter time I recommend going to the North Shore of Oahu to watch some monster surf if there are winter swells.  Watching waves is therapeutic and stress relieving for me.  It makes me feel like I am in one of those Corona commercials.

Cost: Free

Diamond Head View
View of Waikiki atop Diamond HeadPhoto Credit

3. Take a Hike- Hiking is great because you also get a workout.  There are so many scenic hikes in Hawaii.  Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the views and a good pair of shoes.  Going on hikes is another stress reliever of mines, I get leave the office exercise and enjoy simulating conversation with a hiking partner.

Cost: Free

4. Vacation Rentals – If you travel with a family you might want to consider the benefits of getting a vacation rental.  They provide you with extra space and allow you to save quite a bit of money on eating out since you will have access to a kitchen.

Cost: Varies – Compare to Hotel Rooms

5. Life is a Beach
– I’m not a surfer but I enjoy a quick swim or a lazy day at the beach.  I feel it revitalizes the soul.

Cost: Free

6. Public Transportation
Honolulu’s public transportation system has been ranked as America’s best several times.  It is the 20th most utilized transit system in the US.  It cost $2 to hope on the bus and I think a $1 for seniors.  With gas prices around $3.50 a gallon and downtown parking $200+/month you might consider taking the bus.

I think one of the big differences I have noticed about Honolulu’s transit system from other big city systems is that to me it feels much safer.  Honolulu is also going to be building a $3.7 billion rail system.

Cost: $2 – $1

Honu - Turtle
Honu – Hawaiian Sea Turtle, Photo Credit

7. Snorkeling – You can get a decent snorkel and mask for under $20.  I like to to dive with fins to move faster in the water.  I’m not a very good swimmer but I sill enjoy snorkeling and it is good exercise.  If you have an underwater camera you can take some great photos.

Cost: <$20

Matsumoto's Shave Ice
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice – Photo Credit

8.  Enjoy Hawaiian Shaved Ice – The mecca of Shave Ice would have to be Matsumoto’s Shave Ice in Haleiwa.  There are lots of other shave ice places just ask a local where their favorite place is.

Cost: < $3

9. Enjoy a Book at the Beach – I’m sure a lot of people have this peaceful and relaxing vision of enjoying a great book while lying down under an umbrella at the beach.  Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses to protect your eyes.  Sounds relaxing?  Because it is,

Cost: Free

10. Picnic – Take advantage of the beautiful weather and go for a picnic.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, again you don’t want to stress out just getting there.  Enjoy the process of picking up food or making food and hanging out at the park or beach.  You can pick up a plate lunch or bento and your good to go.

Cost: < $20

11.  Enjoy Some Unique Hawaii Food – Hawaii has some unique food items even at fast food restaurants like McDonalds, see my article on Hawaii fast food.  See hawaii restaurant reviews here.  Also see Hawaii Entertainment Books for buy one get one free deals.

Cost < $10

As you can see there are many priceless things you can do in Hawaii that don’t cost much.  Check them out and I’ll see you at the beach.

Mr. Cheap Stuff



9 years ago

Nazi writes: Help! I am a mother of two and need 3 tickets for me and my two kids to Hawaii from Denver on June 14th - June 22nd. Everything is so over priced, I am trying to find something under $800 each and I am not having luck. I was hoping to get some insider info if you have any! (this is for a soccer tournament and I need to fly at reasonable times as well, Sunday's flight has to leave after 8pm) anyway, it's a long shot, I thought I'd try anyway.... THANKS!! Dean responds: Hmm, the 3 major airlines that offer good price to Honolulu is: Hawaiianair.com Alohaair.com ATA.com - They fly out of Oakland I flew in from Denver on United before but $800 for 3 people is kind of a stretch especially during peak season. Aloha has a $129 from Oakland to Honolulu right now but it is not during your travel time. Is there anyway you can use miles or even sign up for a credit card for miles? Sorry, I am not much help, personally I always fly on Hawaiian Airlines because I like their service. If price is a major issue consider this. $800 is a lot of money but your flight is in a couple of months. Could you save $5 or $10 a day and put it to your trip? I'm sure you could figure out something, just have to be a little creative. I hope you are able to come to Hawaii, good luck, Dean

from Houston

9 years ago

Hey there I came by your site on an accident,I'm glad I did,the info you provided is to the point,we are plannig to move to Oahu from Houston in Aug,and I'm looking for a rental 1+stdio apt any suggestions? As for the lady aboved- have you consider driving to San Diego or/Oakland and then flying? My daughter flew from San Diego to Honolulu on Hawain Air for $284.00 rt, purchased 21 days in advance- good luck!


9 years ago

I would check craigslist.com, rentals in Oahu are pretty expensive compared to the rest of the country. A decent 1 bed room apartment probably will cost you around $1100/month. Studios around $800-$900. If you work in the city then I would recommend living in the city or close to the city because traffic really impacts your lifestyle.


9 years ago

Here is a nice little beach house rental. It isn't too expensive, compared to hotel rates and it is more private and cozy. http://www.haleohao.com/

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