The Hawaiian Islands are notoriously expensive, and whether you live in Hawaii or are attempting to plan your next vacation, it can be difficult to stay on budget. Luckily, the Hawaiian Islands are home to more free or cheap activities as expensive helicopter rides and boat tours. Just take a look around – Hawaii is home to more natural beauty than any other American state, most of which is free to explore. Here are 17 of our favorite free activities – from the highest peaks of Kauai to the shores of Hawaii Island.
1. Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails.
Who needs a gym membership when you can go for a nice, long hike?
2. Drive to the Tantalus lookout.
Everyone loves a good drive - and there's no beating the view of Honolulu from the Tantalus Lookout. Oh, and this is the best "roller coaster-esque" drive on Oahu.
3. Watch the professional surfers that flock to Hawaii in the winter months.
So, you can't surf. No problem - simply opt to hang out at the best north shore beaches during the winter months and admire the experts.
4. Relax under Lahaina’s Banyan tree.
This big, beautiful Banyan tree is the oldest in the state - and an excellent place to simply sit and think about the world.
5. Go on a self-guided tour of Hawaii’s many natural wonders.
Tours in Hawaii are expensive, but taking your own driving tour of the sites means that all you have to pay for is gas and snacks.
6. Witness Waikiki’s fabulous friday night fireworks.
Every Friday night, there is a fabulous fireworks show on the beach in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and it is an absolutely beautiful way to end your week for free.
7. Visit Kauai’s Spouting Horn Blowhole.
Perhaps the most spectacular blowhole in Hawaii, Spouting Horn can shoot as high as 50 feet in the air, and is surrounded by a striking landscape.
8. Head to Puuhonau o Honaunau National Historical Park.
Located on the Big Island is this park, full of archaeological sites and reconstructions of an ancient Hawaiian “place of refuge.” The site, once home to Hawaiian royalty and those who broke a law or defeated military, features a self-guided tour.
9. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial.
This incredible piece of American history will simultaneously leave you breathless and break your heart for the 1,102 sailors and marines who were killed during the fateful and tragic Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Visiting the memorial is a somber experience, and one that will certainly remind you not only of the delicacy of life, but also of the monumental sacrifice made by the United States Armed Forces.
10. Go on a sunset picnic.
Is there anything better than a sunset picnic on the beach? We certainly don't think so!
11. Drive the famous Hana Highway.
Maui’s Road to Hana is perhaps the most popular scenic drive on the island – and possibly all of Hawaii. This infamous 64.4-mile highway stretches from Kahului to Hana is popular not for the destination – Hana Town – but for the incredible journey it takes to get there. The highway passes over 59 bridges and features a whopping 620 turns.
12. Bask in the wonderment that is Waipio Valley.
The sacred Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and is an important site for Hawaiian history and culture. But history aside, “The Valley of the Kings” certainly appears as though it was made for royalty – the valley is full of tropical vegetation and surrounded by 2,000-foot tall cliffs.
13. Dip your toes in the water at one of Hawaii’s beautiful black sand beaches.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to multiple striking black sand beaches, and a trip to the Big Island isn't complete without a stop at Punalu'u Black Sand Beach.
14. Explore Maui’s Waianapanapa State Park.
Located on Maui’s Road to Hana is this amazing state park, with an absolutely stunning black sand beach, hikes, a blowhole, ocean caves, sea arches, fresh water pools and cliff diving. What more could a true explorer want in a park? Camping, perhaps? Oh yeah, they have that too.
15. Go whale watching.
It's officially whale-watching season in Hawaii, and while you can take an expensive whale watching tour, you don't have to. There are various hikes and lookout points perfect for catching a glimpse of these gorgeous creatures in their natural habitat.
16. Learn about coffee at a free tour of Greenwell Farms.
Kona Coffee is world-famous, and if you're the least bit coffee obsessed like I am, you'll absolutely love learning about the growing process of the coffee bean.
17. Hang out at the beach.
There's truly nothing better - or more Hawaiian - than spending the entire day lounging at the beach.