Free Things to Do in Waikiki

Free Things to Do in Waikiki

Hula, music, history, culture, movies and fireworks are all free in Waikiki By: Marty Wentzel
Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Friday night fireworks are a favorite freebie in Waikiki.// © 2014 Hilton Hawaiian Village
Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Friday night fireworks are a favorite freebie in Waikiki.// © 2014 Hilton Hawaiian Village

With so many free things to do in Waikiki, there’s no need to drop a bundle on activities.

From torchlighting and hula shows to hands-on classes in Hawaiian arts and crafts, the south Oahu visitor mecca keeps its guests engaged in priceless pastimes.

Better yet, Waikiki is walkable, so it’s easy to stroll from most any accommodation to a rich experience without the price tag.

Following are some favorite Waikiki freebies, guaranteed to create invaluable memories.

Aloha Friday at Hyatt Regency Waikiki
Each Friday afternoon, Hyatt presents a Polynesian show with hula dancers, a Samoan fire knife dancer and hands-on demonstrations of lei making and Polynesian art tattooing. Weekday afternoons bring additional cultural classes like ukulele playing and storytelling.

History Tours at the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian
Turn back the clock during free guided tours of Waikiki’s two grande dames. At the 1901 Moana Surfrider —Waikiki’s oldest hotel — visitors see fascinating memorabilia. Historians also lead ongoing tours around the classic 1927 Royal Hawaiian, nicknamed the Pink Palace.

Kuhio Beach Torchlighting and Hula
Four nights each week at sunset, the blowing of the conch shell summons folks to the Kuhio Beach hula mound near Waikiki’s statue of Duke Kahanamoku. There they witness a traditional torchlighting ceremony followed by one hour of free, feel-good hula by talented dancers and entertainers.

Royal Hawaiian Band
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 at 500-acre Kapiolani Park. The park itself is a fabulous free attraction popular with picnickers and joggers.

Royal Hawaiian Center Classes and Entertainment
Take ukulele or hula lessons, learn how to make traditional Hawaiian quilts, weave a lei using fresh tropical flowers and try your hand at lomilomi massage, all at this multi-level shopping center. It also presents live music and hula shows most evenings.

Sunset on the Beach
Waikiki Beach turns into a gigantic outdoor theater presenting free, family-friendly movies on a 30-foot screen. Late-afternoon live entertainment kicks things off, with vendors selling affordable eats. Be sure to check the online schedule, since it happens roughly once every other month.

Waikiki Historic Trail
This self-guided outdoor tour leads visitors to a series of 21 surfboard markers in significant locations. Each spot shares fascinating legends and lore of the area, from the royalty who once called Waikiki home to tales of the famed Waikiki BeachBoys. The website has a trail map for easy downloading.

Wildlife and Fireworks at Hilton Hawaiian Village
There’s no charge to watch Hilton wildlife experts feed the penguins and turtles that enliven its grounds. On Friday evenings, the resort regales locals and visitors with an oceanside fireworks show which is best viewed from the beach — a colorful way to have fun for free in Waikiki.

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