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Fun at The Aloha State: 10 Unique and Cheap Things to Do in Hawaii

Cheap things to do in Hawaii

Aloha State is a great tourist destination with several fun. The term “Aloha” is used in Hawaii to show greetings and respect for each other. Although this is one of the most expensive tourist spots in the US, you can still find cheap things to do in Hawaii. This article has gathered some of the best places you can visit in Hawaii with a limited budget.

People who come to Hawaii usually enjoy the beaches and water activities, but this beautiful island state offers more fun attractions! 

Without further ado, here’s a summary of unique and inexpensive destinations and activities you can do in Hawaii:

Budget Vacation in Hawaii: Fun & Inexpensive Things to do… from Rental Trader Inc

Top 10 Cheap Things to Do in Hawaii

As mentioned earlier, Hawaii is one of the most expensive luxury vacation spots, but this article aims to look at the cheaper options available in Hawaii.

Now let’s look at the cheap things available in Hawaii, we’ve put together this list keeping in mind that places most of the activities are excellent ideas that are interesting to do at cheap prices.

1. Tantalus Lookout: Hawaii’s Best Sunset

Location: Round Top Forest Reserve, Nutridge Street, Honolulu

Tantalus Lookout: Hawaii's Best Sunset

Let’s start our cheap things to do in Hawaii list with a visit to Puu Ualakaa State Park for the famous Tantalus Lookout! This lovely spot is the best sunset lookout in Oahu and a great place for a relaxing picnic with your family!

Tantalus Lookout is part of a 2,000-acre park that was designated as a Forest Reserve by the Territorial Government in 1913. Today, the area is accessible via a short walk through the Tantalus Arboretum Trail.

You may also skip the trail and drive directly to the lookout, passing through the beautiful lush suburbs of Manoa. The drive up has numerous hairpin turns but you’ll get lovely views of Waikiki as you go!

Once on top of the Tantalus Lookout, brace yourself for a breathtaking view of the Diamond Head volcano cone, Honolulu, Waikiki, Honolulu Airport, Wai’anae Mountains, and the beautiful ocean surrounding the place.

You may even spot a rainbow amidst the clouds and sky! Going to the lookout guarantees excellent views of Honolulu, whether you’re up there during the daytime or sunset.

Tantalus Lookout offers free admission and parking! However, there’s no mode of public transport to take you directly to the area. You’ll need to rent a private car to visit the spot.

2. Diamond Head State Monument: Amazing Coastal Views

Location: Honolulu, Oahu Island

Diamond Head State Monument: Amazing Coastal Views in Hawaii

Next on our list of cheap things to do in Hawaii is a wonderful visit to the famous Diamond Head State Monument! The park spans more than 475 acres of lush greens and is home to the popular Diamond Head volcano crater. You’ll also get amazing coastal views as you traverse through the park’s trails!

Hiking up the Diamond Head Trail is the most popular activity to do inside the park. The 1.5-mile round-trip trail is classified as moderate due to narrow stairs and some steep sections. But the 360-degree views upon reaching the trail’s end are stunningly rewarding! Allow 1.5 to 3 hours to complete your hike while taking in the stunning coastline views along the way.

Apart from hiking, you may also visit the Diamond Head Interpretive Kiosk and Gift Shop. Here, you’ll find self-guided audio tours that describe the rich history, geography, animal and plant life, and culture at the Diamond Head. Purchase your souvenirs here as well!

Diamond Head State Monument is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day, with the last hike starting at 4:30 pm. The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle and $1 per visitor.

3. Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Historic Hawaii

Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Cheap Historical Place Hawaii

Pay a visit to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial while you’re in Hawaii. This historic monument was created in honor of the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor National Memorial is now regulated by the U.S. National Park Service.

There are lots of things to do inside the park! First, head to the Visitor Center’s Aloha Court for orientation, tickets, and tour information. Then, you may visit any of the following spots:

  • “Road to War” and “Attack” Exhibit Galleries
  • Remembrance Circle
  • Interpretive Wayside Exhibits
  • Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
  • Bookstore

You may also go on the USS Arizona Memorial Program. It includes a documentary film at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater and a shuttle boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial itself.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial Program are free activities in Hawaii for all without admission fees. Therefore, it is one of the top attractions for travelers and one of our list of cheap things to do in Hawaii.

The center is open the entire year from 7 am to 5 pm excluding Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Reservations are recommended during peak seasons of summer, spring break, and winter holidays.

4. Waikiki Historic Trail Tour: A Lovely Walking Tour

Location: Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Historic Trail Tour: A Lovely Walking Tour

Embark on a lovely walking tour around Waikiki Beach following the Waikiki Historic Trail Tour! The entire tour covers 23 different sites spread across the Waikiki area.

Each site is marked by informative bronze surfboard markers carrying information that’ll take you to the times before the first hotel was built and the first tourist arrived in Waikiki.

The two-mile Waikiki Historic Trail Tour starts at Kapiolani Beach Park. You’ll then be walking through sites such as:

  • Kuhio Beach
  • Queen Liliuokalani’s Estate
  • Duke Kanahamoku’s bronze statue
  • Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Kapaemahu Stones

The tour ends at the last marker found at Kalakaua Park.

If you’re traveling alone, then we suggest to tour at your own pace! You can finish the entire trail in a day, or you may opt to walk through portions on several days depending on your travel duration.

Experience the beauty of Waikiki, take stunning photographs, and learn about the history of the trail markers. The tour is completely free of charge!

5. Foster Botanical Garden: Hawaiian Nature At Its Best

Location: Honolulu

Foster Botanical Garden: Hawaiian Nature At Its Best

Head over to the Foster Botanical Garden for fun and cheap things to do in Hawaii! Explore the beauty of this natural garden nestled at the heart of busy Honolulu City.

Foster Botanical Garden is a 14-acre area filled with plenty of woods and tropical plants. The garden has several highlight sections including the following:

  • Outdoor Butterfly Garden
  • The Conservatory
  • Exceptional Trees
  • Prehistoric Glen Cycad Collection
  • Palm Garden

There’s also a nice gift shop where you can pick up lovely souvenirs at an affordable price!

You’ll get a visitor map once you enter the Foster Botanical Garden. You can use this map for a self-guided tour of the entire garden.

Alternatively, you may opt for the free guided tours led by park docents. Reserve a slot for the free guided tours by calling the gardens’ office ahead of your visit! The guided tours start at 10:30 am and are offered daily.

Foster Botanical Garden is open the entire year except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. They’re open from 9 am to 4 pm. Admission fees cost $5 for adults, $1 for kids 6-12 years, and $25 for an Annual Family Pass. Children 5 years old and below can enter for free.

6. Lanai Cat Sanctuary: Unique Hawaiian Attractions

Location: Lanai Island

Lanai Cat Sanctuary: Unique Hawaiian Attractions

Are you a cat lover? Then, head over to Hawaii’s Lanai Island and mingle with the cat residents of Lanai Cat Sanctuary!

Lanai Island is a small remote island inhabited by over 3,000 people and around 600 cats! These furry fellows roam around and play freely inside Lanai Island.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary was founded by Illinois resident Kathy Carroll in 2009 to rescue cats hunted down by the people due to overpopulation.

The cat sanctuary lies on 3.5 acres of land. What’s truly amazing is that the cat shelter runs purely on funds donated by friends, donors, and cat sponsors!

Visit the Lanai Cat Sanctuary and go play with every cat resident you’ll see! Each cat has a name, a microchip, and a medical record. The cats also receive regular veterinary care, so they’re completely safe to play around with.

Rub their tummies, scratch their chins, and play with their tailbones all day long! Take amazing selfies and photos with these adorable felines as well!

If you’re interested in adoption, talk to the sanctuary staff for assistance – all cats in the shelter are open for adoption.

Lanai Cat Sanctuary is open all year round from 10 am to 3 pm. Admission is completely free, but donations of any amount are generously accepted and appreciated!

Not only is this a unique attraction, but it being free makes it one of the most interesting cheap things to do in Hawaii.

7. Akaka Falls State Park: Short & Easy Hike

Location: Akaka Falls Road, Honomu

Akaka Falls State Park: Short & Easy Hike

Another fun cheap thing to do in Hawaii is a visit to the lovely Akaka Falls State Park. This natural wonder is the main attraction that draws lots of visitors to Honomu!

Akaka Falls State Park consists of a paved trail that leads to the magnificent Akaka Falls and the smaller Kahuna Falls. The hike is short and easy – just a 0.4-mile loop – but prepare for lots of stairs!

Enjoy the beauty of the lush tropical vegetation and the lovely rainforest atmosphere inside the state park as you hike!

Follow the left (south) path after coming to the first junction to see only the 442-foot free-falling Akaka Falls. Otherwise, head straight on for scenic vista points for both Akaka and the smaller 100-foot Kahuna Falls.

Akaka Falls State Park is open from sunrise to sunset every day. Admission is only $1 per pedestrian or $5 per car.

Note that camping, mountain biking, and fires are not allowed inside the park.

8. Kalalau Trail: Toughest Hikes In The US

Location: Kauai Island

Kalalau Valley Kauai Hawaii

High-definition panorama over Kalalau Valley in Kauai, Hawaii

Looking for some extreme outdoor yet budget-friendly adventure in Hawaii?

Prepare yourself for the Kalalau Trail Hike! This trail, also known as Na Pali Coast Trail, is a 22-mile trail that leads to one of the most stunning coastline views of Kauai and the Pacific Ocean.

While the views on this trail are heartbreakingly magnificent, note that the Kalalau Trail is recommended only for highly skilled and experienced hikers – it’s among the most dangerous hikes in the United States, after all! Therefore, it features in our dedicated sampling of The 7 Hardest Hikes in the USA

Give yourself 3-5 days to fully explore the entire Kalalau Trail and Kalalau Beach. If you’re here for a day hike only, you can take the trail from Kee Beach to Hanakapiaai Beach. That’s 4 miles roundtrip and is a popular trail for most hikers on Kauai Island. Some day hikers add a side trip of 2 miles from Hanakapiai Beach to Hanakapiai Falls.

To hike the entire Kalalau Trail, you’ll pass through these points:

  • Kee Beach (trailhead) to Hanakapiai Beach – 2 miles
  • Hanakapiai Beach to Hanakoa Valley – 4 miles (Hanakoa is a good camping spot if splitting the hike into 2 or more days)
  • Hanakoa to Kalalau – 5 miles

The final leg of your journey to Kalalau happens as you come upon Red Hill – a large cinder cone that guards the entrance of Kalalau Valley.

Take in the stunning views, experience pure bliss, and keep in mind that the valley was once a sacred place for the native Hawaiians. Enjoy this hike and safety first all the time!

9. Lithified Sand Dunes: Beautiful Shipwreck Beach

Location: Koloa

Shipwreck sand dunes beach

Hawaii truly doesn’t run out of stunning natural wonders! Come and visit the Lithified Sand Dunes in Koloa, along Kauai’s southern shore. It’s a magnificently short, secluded hike that’ll take you along cliffs overhanging on the ocean.

The Lithified Sand Dunes were actual sand slowly turned into stone (lithified) over many years. The rocks have a distinctive yellow color, which perfectly contrasts with the deep blue of the rough ocean surrounding them.

Surely, this site is among the untouched wonders of Hawaii’s nature! The rocks and the views are quite prehistoric and are absolutely stunning!

Reach the Lithified Sand Dunes by hiking the 2-mile Mahaulepu Beach Trail. Your feet will take you to the beautiful Shipwreck Beach, Kawailoa Bay, and the Lithified Sand Dunes.

Try out this easy trail and you’ll surely fall in love with its natural beauty – both along the way and upon gazing at the wonderful Lithified Sand Dunes itself!

10. Kuhio Beach Hula Show: Authentic Hawaiian Hula

Location: Kuhio Beach

Kuhio Beach Hula Show: Authentic Hawaiian Hula

End your budget-friendly trip to Hawaiian with a free outdoor hula show on Kuhio Beach! Catch the free hula show every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 6:30 – 7:30 pm, weather permitting.

Head to the shores early to get the best views as you sit on the grass near the stage! A traditional conch shell blowing and torch lighting signal the start of the show. Sway to the beat of authentic Hawaiian hula music – all for free!

Cheap Things to Do in Hawaii: Searching and Booking Vacation Homes

It’s a sound idea to book a vacation home near your scheduled destinations in Hawaii. That way, you can avoid overcrowding or difficulties in hotel bookings. A vacation home also offers a comfortable haven for you and your family while you’re in Hawaii!

Platforms such as Rental Trader can help you find the best vacation rentals in Hawaii. You can search properties, talk to owners, find the best deals, and book properties for your upcoming trip right away!

And if you happen to have a rental property near Hawaii’s best destinations, you may also list your properties on Rental Trader for free! Expand your reach and get more bookings when you sign up for a Rental Trader account.

You may head over to Rental Trader’s Contact Page for any concerns and inquiries regarding property listings. Fill up our web form, call us, or send us an email for more information.


This sums up our amazing list of 10 stunning and cheap things to do in Hawaii! Come to these budget-friendly destinations for an amazing and memorable trip to Aloha State!

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