Honolulu on the cheap

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Enjoy a taste of the island life — on the cheap.

Hawaii has a reputation for being a rather expensive destination, but you don’t have to be a big spender to enjoy a taste of the island life. Here are six ways to enjoy Honolulu on the cheap.

Diamond Head State Monument

Diamond Head (Image: Eric Tessmer)
Diamond Head (Image: Eric Tessmer)

You can hike through this ancient Hawaiian volcano and enjoy sweeping island and ocean views for just $1 ($5 by car). The stair-lined trail takes you up 560 feet to the peak of this sacred crater, and on a clear day, you can even make out neighboring islands like Maui. Diamond Head is one of the most scenic sites on Oahu.

Waimea Bay

About an hour north of Honolulu, Oahu’s Waimea Bay is well worth the trip. Surfers trek far and wide to ride Waimea’s legendary waves, but summer’s calm waters are more family-friendly. Even if you visit during winter, you can watch in amazement as surfers tackle these 30-foot waves.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki (Image: puuikibeach)
Waikiki (Image: puuikibeach)

Honolulu’s famed shore, Waikiki Beach really does live up to the hype. Soft sands, beautiful waters and colorful corals beckon you to spend your days on the beach in Honolulu, either soaking up the sun or snorkeling in a shallow stretch of water. With plenty of restaurants and shops lining Waikiki, it’s all too easy to spend most of your trip right here.

Rainbow Drive-In

When it comes time to eat, don’t miss Honolulu’s Rainbow Drive-In. Rainbow’s plate lunches come in at a budget-friendly $10 or less, and you can try local specialties like loco mock or fried rice. You can even take a taste of Hawaii home with you at the restaurant’s gift shop, which sells favorites like their Hawaiian-style chili rub, pancake mix and local coffee.

Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial (Image: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)
USS Arizona Memorial (Image: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)

As President Roosevelt predicted, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack is a day that continues to live in infamy. While in Honolulu, you can visit the memorial for this devastating World War II attack, located atop the sunken midsection of the USS Arizona. You’ll be whisked from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to the floating white memorial by the U.S. Navy, and you’ll even be able to see oil continue to rise up in the water from the sunken ship. Tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial are free, based on a first-come, first-served basis.

Manoa Falls

Enjoy a different side of Hawaii’s beautiful scenery with a scenic and relatively easy hike to Manoa Falls. The hike itself is less than a mile one-way, and you’ll get a chance to enjoy the island’s stunning tropical forests as you trek to the falls. There’s no fee to access the trail, but parking will run you $5.

(Main image: Paloika)

Honolulu on the cheap was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.