Oahu may only be Hawaii’s third largest island, but it for sure pulls in the most tourists. If you’re planning a trip to this Pacific paradise as you get through the final doldrums of winter, you know that it’s expensive. Getting there is expensive. Once you’re on the island, goods are expensive as many of them have to be flown or shipped in. As a tourist, things are going to be marked up even higher for you.
But entertainment on Oahu doesn’t have to be a budget buster. Once you get to paradise, here are three things you can do while enjoying the beautiful and unique landscape the island has to offer without coming home absolutely broke.
December 7 was the day that would live in infamy. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, pulling a reluctant American populace into Word War II. Out of the ships that were sunk that day, the USS Arizona is probably the most remembered.
The reverent tour takes you out on the water, where you can see the rusted hull below the surface. Oil continues to spill out of the wreckage to this day. The tour is led by audio, and guides you both as you make your trip to the site, and through the museum when you return to shore.
The tour is free, but you can spend $1.50 to reserve a spot online in advance. The tours do tend to fill up quickly, so the $1.50 may be worth it.
There’s no shortage of gorgeous beaches in Oahu, and exploring the natural wonders is free or low-cost. Those who like sports like surfing, kitesurfing, or windboarding will want to check out Kailua beach, which has limited parking, but no admission fee. The waters are crystal blue, the beaches are white, and the shores are much less crowded than Waikiki.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a low-cost place to go snorkeling. Admission is just $7.50, and if you bring your own gear, you’ll only have to pay $8-$10 for a locker. Kids under 12 get in free, and once you’re in you’re rewarded with calm, clear waters and abundant marine life. If you’re driving yourself, arrive early in the morning before parking fills up.
Oahu is also home to the largest Polynesian show and cultural center in the world. Located in Laie, The Polynesian Cultural Center is host to Polynesian culture and history not just for the island of Oahu, but also for Fiji, Rapa Nui (Easter Island,) Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand,) and more.
Tour packages are not cheap, but they are value-packed. You can get a guide or go solo, go on a tour or enter with general admission. You’ll have opportunities to visit six island villages, attend a canoe pageant, take a canoe ride yourself, attend one (or more) cultural shows which include meals, and be invited to participate in hands-on activities. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and you can save money to increase the value by using promo codes when you purchase your tickets.