This guide WILL SAVE YOU MONEY! It is a no frills guide to not spending much hard-earned money in the tourist haven of Waikiki, on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.A., whilst seeing almost all it has to offer. There are many free or very inexpensive attractions. Hikes, swims, cheap meals, and free entertainment! There are many tips to avoid paying too much (or at all).
You could of course buy a Lonely Planet Guide for $US20, but why pay when this is FREE and already customized to the desires of the budget traveler!
My guide also has the benefit of being prepared by a bona fide discount traveler.
I visited Waikiki in August 2007 for 7 days, and ate well, saw almost everything possible, and didn't spend a fortune whilst doing it. I got most of the information before I arrived from the Lonely Planet Guide to Hawaii (now you don't need to). Everything listed below I saw/did inside 7 days (Phew!).
I don't believe that I am a cheapskate (although some of my friends may disagree), but I don't like to pay through the nose, when a bit of pre-planning and thought can achieve the same or an even better outcome for less!
Note: This guide is NOT a front for advertising of any establishments, it is simply a guide to places I visited that didn't cost an arm and/or a leg, and tips for making your dollar go further.
Note 2: Please excuse my Australian spelling!
Disclaimer: These tips are current as of my August 2007 holiday. Things change, don't hold me responsible!
Must-see places, and how to get there,
The Lost campsite,
The original starting point for the Gilligan's Island 3 Hr Tour,
How to get around Oahu on the Bus,
10km hike through the forest canopy, with spectacular views,
A Free Signed Historical Walk through Waikiki,
Diamond Head Crater Walk,
Free Hula Show,
Free Movies on the beach,
Cheap Eats, and local delicacies,
Where to go jogging,
Where to snorkel,
Shopping and Souvenirs,
Downtime at the Airport.
Step 1: Getting Started
-Google Earth your hotel before arrive in Waikiki, and get a feel for the general layout of Waikiki and Oahu.
-A paper copy of this Instructable.
-Download and print copies of documents recommended in this Instructable.
-Borrow a library, or a friend's copy of the Lonely Planet Guide for Hawaii.
-Always have a pen and paper/diary with you to note down any bargains for later in your trip.
-Pack a snorkel, mask and fins (borrow if you have to) if you plan on lots of snorkeling.
Accomodation (this one's up to you)
Although cheap, hostels are also crowded, noisy and poorly maintained. I don't know about you, but the only party I want to hear is my own! It doesn't cost much more for a private room in hotel.
There are plenty of cheap hotels around. Most places cost more for a beach view, so choose a city/mountain view room where possible (avoid facing directly down to Kuhio Ave, as there are loud buses almost 24hrs a day).
After reading through Lonely Planet and reviews on the internet at www.lonelyplanet.com, www.google.com etc., I booked online and stayed at Waikiki Grand at the Diamond Head end of the Waikiki strip at www.waikikigrand.com. From reviews, I was aware that a Gay Bar was located beside the ground floor, but I hardly heard a sound from it from my room. I simply clicked on the hotel's Book Reservations link and found a cheap room. On arrival I was upgraded to an awesome beach and Diamond Head view for FREE! by doing nothing extra. Room was nothing special, but tidy, and included a basic delivered breakfast and newspaper. Next time I'm in Waikiki, I'll book definitely there again!
So read your borrowed copy of Lonely Planet Hawaii, get online, and make your choice.
Usual Hotel Tip: Don't use the Mini-Bar. Go to an ABC store (see below) for all of your supplies.
As soon as you arrive:
-At the airport, find a brochure stand, and collect a few Free Maps and Tourist Magazines (see below), to get you started, and fill in time on the shuttle.
-Then grab a Shuttle (all pretty much the same) to your Hotel, make sure that you buy a Return Ticket, it's cheaper ($US14 vs $US8 + 8). Just remember, when arranging at your Hotel's desk to book a shuttle back to the airport to show them your ticket, so that they know which company to ring. A bus would be even cheaper, but at this stage you probably aren't exactly certain where everything is, and they don't allow much luggage on board.
Once you have checked in:
-Go for a walk up Kalakua Avenue, which is the main strip along the beach, to get to know your surroundings, and
-Visit the Visitor Information Center, located in a Gazebo at the Diamond Head end of the Waikiki strip, Corner of Kapahulu and Kalakaua.
The staff are very helpful, and have just about every possible brochure available, including individual bus route/timetables. They have a very good handout on Getting to/From Diamond Head State Park. Collect TheBus System Map, also.
-Collect many of the numerous Free Tourist magazines, (What's on/This Week in Waikiki, etc.) from stands on most main street corners in Waikiki and hotel lobbys (plus at the Airport). Collect as many different magazines as possible, so as to see all discount offers.
-Collect Free Maps of Waikiki and Oahu, from the same places as above. Again, collect many different ones.
-Avoid conversing with Booking Stands, as they often advertise more expensive versions of tours and activities, many that you can simply do on your own for free. Just look at the displays from a short distance to see what's on offer.
-TheBus System Map, (Visitor Information Centre, and some other places), has all bus routes around Waikiki and Oahu.
-ABC stores are on almost every corner. Stock up on bottled water (bulk packs), cans of soda (mixers), and alcohol. Very reasonably priced. Great place for cheap souvenirs.
A basic online starting map can be found at www.planetware.com/map/waikiki-map-us-hi183.htm or www.waikiki.us/images/waikiki-map.jpg