Welcome to SB Designs' Waikiki and Oahu on the Cheap (but not missing out) Guide.

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!

It includes:

Accommodation tips,
Must-see places, and how to get there,
Pearl Harbor,
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,
Free Internet,
Where to snorkel,
Shopping and Souvenirs,
Downtime at the Airport.

Step 1: Getting Started

Before you arrive:
-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
<p>Hi first would like to thank you for all your helpful advice. We are going to the Hilton Hawaiin Village on 9/1/15 for 7 nghts and I took notes of everything you said and I am going to try them. Will let you know how we made out. Thanks again for the free info. islandgirl52</p>
<p>Local Hawaii guy here... I definitely agree that there's plenty to do for free. Hikes and beaches are all free. I'd probably recommend a rental car if going to the North Shore -- bus wait times are kind of bad.</p><p>Here are some articles that you might find helpful:</p><p><a href="http://www.thehawaiiplan.com/oahu-day1-" rel="nofollow">www.thehawaiiplan.com/oahu-day1-</a><strong>waikiki</strong>/</p><p>and some ideas for cheap lodging:</p><p>www.thehawaiiplan.com/where-can-i-find-a-cheap-place-to-stay-in-hawaii/</p>
<p>Hahaha, loved the post! Very funny, and super useful! Thank you for all the tips!!! </p>
<p>I have always wanted to go to Hawaii! I have friends who go in January or February almost every year. It is my goal to go within the next two or three years. I'm not sure when the best time is to buy tickets. Does the time of year you go have a big influence on the amount of money you will spend? http://www.breakers-hawaii.com</p>
<p>I think this is the most helpful post i ever read on Honolulu travel because after all its all about Money.All want to save money while traveling and you did a great job.Thank you so much for sharing such a nice tips with us.I am planning my trip to Honolulu soon and it will be really helpful for me. Guys check it out here if you also want to make a best plan http://www.triphobo.com/honolulu-hawaii</p>
<p>It's been a long while since I was last home, but I think the International Market Place has since closed down.</p>
HAHAHA. ABC Stores are not cheap by Hawaii standards. A better option would be to head away from Diamondhead up AlaMoana and get to Palama Korean grocery for drinks, snacks, and booze.
Thanks for this! I used to stay at the <a href="http://www.montecarloinns.com/Brampton-Suites/brampton" rel="nofollow">hotels in Brampton</a> on the north side of the island but I'm glad I came across this. Thanks again.
when i when i got to stay at the finest resort on the island... quins medical center... they medevaced me from a neighboring island
Hilton Hawaiian Village has fireworks every Friday evening. You can see these from many public places.
A great place for 'upscale' authentic Hawaiian plate lunches is Kaka'ako Kitchen, across from Ward Center (where Dave and Buster's is). I've been there several times now, and have yet to be disappointed in anything I've had there. They have some of the best Loco Moco I've had on the island.<br> <br> Also, for people that want to venture out of Honolulu and onto the North Shore, ignore the shrimp trucks. A lot of tourists swear by them, but they're really not that special, and they're quite expensive for food you're buying out of a van (expect to pay over $10 a plate at any shrimp truck for a couple of shrimp and some old rice).<br> <br> My favorite North-Shore eateries are Hauula Korean BBQ, the Hukilau Cafe, and Ted's Bakery (can't believe this one wasn't mentioned already). Hauula Korean BBQ is an awesome hole-in-the-wall Korean BBQ place in Hauula- the tiny town just before Laie (where the Polynesian Cultural Center is). The Hukilau Cafe is on the opposite end of Laie from the Polynesian Cultural Center. It's off the main road, but I believe there's a sign for it. Turn onto the road opposite Hukilau beach. They have great burgers. The Kahuku Grill is also a good choice, although I like The Hukilau's burgers slightly better. The Kahuku grill blows it away when it comes to desserts though, they have an amazing banana bread sundae.<br> <br> Ted's pies are basically famous here on Oahu. While I definitely recommend stopping by Ted's if you're in the area, you can find Ted's pies at many Foodland grocery stores. My personal favorite is the Pumpkin-Haupia (coconut cream). It may sound like a strange combination, but they compliment each other very well.<br> <br> If you pass through Wahiawa, hit up Maui Mike's. By far my favorite 'Huli-Huli' (Rotisserie) Chicken on the island. The chicken sandwiches here are ridiculously good. I wish this place was closer to my house.
I've snorkeled all over Oahu, and I don't think I'd be able to recommend a better spot for visitors than Hanauma bay. Whoever told you that Hanauma Bay has been trampled to death is wrong. There's still plenty of sea life to see- in fact, the fish in Hanauma Bay are some of the largest reef fish I've seen on the island. The only downsides are that you have to watch a ~20 minute long video before they let you onto the beach (telling you not to feed/bother the wildlife or walk on the coral, etc.), and it's a steep walk too and from the beach. A trolley makes regular trips up and down the hill, but it costs money (can't recall the price off the top of my head). It's worth the price for the trolley back up the hill, especially if you have a lot of gear.<br> <br> Sharks Cove is a great place to go during the Spring and Summer. The reason why it's inadvisable to go during the Winter months is because Sharks Cove is on the North Shore, and is susceptible to the swells the North Shore receives during the winter months.<br> <br> Not many tourists are willing to venture out on the west coast, especially into Waianae, but for individuals looking for some good snorkeling on that side of the island, Pokai Bay is pretty good. There are a couple rock walls- one on the public side and one on the military side (you can just walk/swim across the beach to the military side if you want) that have lots of interesting sea life- fish, eels, cuttlefish- I've even seen a couple octopuses. If you're lucky, you can see the spinner dolphins jumping out of water just outside the bay too.
I am about to test out Steve's advice this weekend and contribute soon.<br>He did not mention the Waikiki Trolley which I think is another to way travel cheap around Waikiki. They have different lines for different destinations around Oahu. Thank you for sharing your work Sbdesigns.
I'd love to hear how your trip went. It would be especially interesting to see if much had changed since '07.
This is real good info. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
does anyone know if the go oahu card is a great value?
Beautiful, I hope Waikiki better than <a href="http://scriptures.ru/india/lakshadweep/indexen.htm">Lakshadweeps</a>!<br>
Just to add to locations to pick souvenirs- The swap meet/Flea market that's held at the stadium has a lot of the same stuff that they sell in the International Marketplace. A lot of it is cheaper too.
&nbsp;I grew up on Oahu and spent a lot of time entertaining visiting relatives. &nbsp;this ible is awesome. &nbsp;I was worried that you would give too much (you mention a lot of great places for tourists to get off the beaten path but leave plenty for the locals to have for ourselves). &nbsp;I'm a little disappointed you mentioned Sharks Cove (one of my favorite places to dive) &nbsp;Great Job!
Make sure when you are booking activities that you never go with people on the streets that try to sell you things, they are not reliable! A good place to find the best prices from various companies is <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.oahuforcheap.com">http://www.oahuforcheap.com</a><br/>
For Oahu-Ditto the comments about &quot;the bus&quot;.<br/>Don't miss the Honolulu Academy of Arts...<br/>they have a few free days; and beautiful grounds not evident from the front.<br/><br/>If you need supplies go to Long's Drug Store (everything from tourist stuff to staples is cheaper than anywhere else). If you need gifts Long's, Costco have better deals on stuff like Macadamia nuts, Coffee, and Guava Jam than elsewhere.<br/><br/>A great free destination on the &quot;big island&quot;=Hawaii is the seaside (at the coastline) open air, hot spring swimming hole!<br/><br/>Before you leave call fruit services to send pineapples, and papayas home with you..they check them in to your flight...no carrying, or paying the airport prices!<br/>
Our whole marching band went to Waikiki Beach last year. We played at the Missouri at Pearl Harbor, and in the Starlight Parade. I don't know if anyone mentioned this but Puka Dogs is DELICIOUS!!! Its in the International marketplace I think.
saimin*, spam musubi*. Very good 'ible, very thorough. Thought I may suggest to add zippy's(best chili in the world), L&L drive in(good loco mocos), W&M bbq burger(been around forever and cheap, next to city mill in kaimuki), and Ono Hawaiian foods in Kapahulu(but there is always a long line, but the food is awwwwesome). Swap meet at the stadium, I forgot the days they have it but lots of cheap touristy stuff. Pretty interesting, if you do get a $5 coconut to drink, after you finish, go back and have them cut it open for you to eat the meat
I Palolo Boy
I think you are better off spending your money to get off Oahu. Diamond head and Perl harbor are worth visiting. Nothing else on that island. The big island was much nicer IMHO. I could spend a few more weeks in Volcano national park. Best part is almost nobody goes to the big island so there is less tourist traps to waste your time on!
My wife and I spent our honeymoon on Oahu about 10 yrs ago. We had an<br/>advantage because she had spent a semester at HPU, so she knew her way<br/>around. We went everywhere by bus. <br/><br/>At that time I think a 4-day unlimited ride bus pass was $10. Now it's $20, according to thebus.org<br/><br/>For a cheap meal the key words were <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.dakine.net/hawaii/guide/oahu/oahu-platelunch.shtml">Plate Lunch</a> at a local drive in. Ironically<br/>the ones I had weren't served on a plate, but in a foam clamshell.<br/>
Thank you! I went there for a cycling century and didn't get to do much on account of a bad crash. I plan to go back and finish the century and actually see more!
im from hawaii...woohoo!
hey when was that picture of the people on that stage taken... i was sitting right across the stage from where that was taken
(Cue Twilight Zone music) Picture taken on 15/8/07.
You can also take a free scuba intro lesson at the Pacific Beach Hotel with Aquazone shop. Get the Discount Coupons in the telephone books for Buy One Get One Free deals. Bon Appetite!
Great job! A few more tips: There's a free aquarium in one of the hotels (I think its on Liliuokaiani Ave) Also, if you want to go for a snorkel you can buy some cheap gear at an ABC store and try a resort called Ko olina . There are plenty of fish in the lagoons and if you there in the afternoon you can ask security were the public beach is (It can be a bit hard to find, but if your at a beach right next to the luau company you know your in the right place) and head down for a beautiful sunset (chances are you'll see five or ten turtles feeding on seaweed). There's also a hotel in Ko Olina that has a few sharks, so you can also ask where that is. I don't know if this was mentioned in the instructable but there's also market in Waikiki and you can catch a bus to diamond head for a two hour hike up the crater (great views). There plenty to do in Hawaii so just ask around!
Thanks so much for your detailed and friendly Instructable. Spent 3(!) weeks in Hawaii on my honeymoon twenty years ago, and you make the place sound like it hasn't changed a bit. Reading your Instructable was like re-living the trip as we did many/most of the things you did, although I wish we had known about the public buses. I'm probably just being a fussy girl, but I'd skip the vomit trails to Diamond Head and/or scoping out the "mentally deranged homeless" for entertainment. OTOH, I strongly recommend taking a small binoculars to check out the views from afar. (a friend used his binoculars to scope out scantily clad women from the ocean balcony of his hotel room) That first stop at the ABC store should include the purchase of a straw mat and a couple of cheap beach towels (the thin kind.) Easy to carry along in case you have a sudden urge to go swimming or find a private little waterfall (mostly on Maui and Kauai, not Oahu) The thin towels dry really quickly in the sun, and you aren't carrying a wet, sandy towel in your pack. ABC stores were terrific for almost everything you could want while in Oahu, and we also saved a ton of money buying our drinks/snacks there, instead of in the hotel. Be careful about leaving open packages of food or leftovers in your hotel room: cockroaches are endemic in the warm climate of Hawaii. We bought almost all our souvenirs at the ABC stores, except for some silly matching Hawaiian shirts at Hilo Hattie's factory/tourist trap. We brought back nice beach towels from ABC (as well at the thin ones) and the silly shirts. The towels lasted for many years and our daughter wore my shirt during Senior Week in High School. She has the shirt packed in case she needs it in college. Thanks again, your Instructable brought back some great memories and put a smile on my face today.
I live in Waikiki and can honestly say you've done your research - good work!
Instead of the bus website, you can use Google public transit - <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.google.com/transit">http://www.google.com/transit</a> - this allows you to find the nearest bus stops and the best times.<br/>
Good tips--many of which would apply to other destinations. Thanks!
First off, I would definitely avoid jogging near the Ala Wai canal. The smell is so bad, I'd rather hang out in a Chinatown alleyway. Secondly, you forgot about Zippy's. There just about everywhere there, and they serve just about everything you're suggesting. Third, if you have a 360, play Test Drive Unlimited. Its basically a map of the entire island, with very few liberties taken. There are no condos built on Sandy Beach (yet).
Yeah, I took all but the last photo myself. Sadly with a round the island bus trip, the Pali tunnel etc aren't very accessible. The Pali Cliff Lookout is supposed to be great, but no bus stop close by that I could see. Thanks for all your feedback, it makes the effort worthwhile!
Darn, a little late, I went last year. :D It would've been nice to know, haha. Great overview for Hawaiian n0obs though!
Nice! Too bad I was only 3 when I went to Hawaii
Nice coverage. I was stationed on Oahu at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station on the Windward side for 6 years. So, I essentially lived there long enough to understand my definition of paradise. I would have to say, don't let Waikiki, let alone Honolulu become a tourist trap for you. Also remember, Honolulu is on the Leeward side while the opposite side of the mountains is referred to as the windward. I didn't notice any mention of the 2 main highways linking both sides. The first being the Likelike (lee-kee-lee-kee) and the Pali. Both have tunnels that go through the mountains, great views, and stop off points. They also give you a great view of the triple canopy jungle from the convenience of your vehicle. Yes, there are car rentals, but I had a car of course. Some of my favorite views were from driving around the windward side of the island. My favorite beach to go to was right outside of the base in Kailua. MUCH better than Waikiki beach IMO. I miss it so much, my GF is always tires of listening to my recollections of paradise.
Nice ! Very detailed, are those your own pictures? there very good, i like the picture of the turtle the most :P

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