Picture of How To Do Waikiki And Oahu On The Cheap (But Not Missing Out) Guide
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.
MaryAnnR22 days ago

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

RonL45 months ago

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.

Here are some articles that you might find helpful:


and some ideas for cheap lodging:


Hahaha, loved the post! Very funny, and super useful! Thank you for all the tips!!!

brookexzcason6 months ago

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

ViperSRT3g1 year ago

It's been a long while since I was last home, but I think the International Market Place has since closed down.

bluecor2 years ago
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.
abadfart2 years ago
when i when i got to stay at the finest resort on the island... quins medical center... they medevaced me from a neighboring island
malweth3 years ago
Hilton Hawaiian Village has fireworks every Friday evening. You can see these from many public places.
saidthety3 years ago
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.

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).

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.

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.

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.
saidthety3 years ago
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.

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.

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.
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.
sbdesigns (author)  kalvintran20113 years ago
I'd love to hear how your trip went. It would be especially interesting to see if much had changed since '07.
Mrballeng4 years ago
This is real good info. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
alspyce4 years ago
does anyone know if the go oahu card is a great value?
saidthety5 years ago
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.
D4V!D5 years ago
 I grew up on Oahu and spent a lot of time entertaining visiting relatives.  this ible is awesome.  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).  I'm a little disappointed you mentioned Sharks Cove (one of my favorite places to dive)  Great Job!
tedroz5 years ago
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 http://www.oahuforcheap.com
For Oahu-Ditto the comments about "the bus".
Don't miss the Honolulu Academy of Arts...
they have a few free days; and beautiful grounds not evident from the front.

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.

A great free destination on the "big island"=Hawaii is the seaside (at the coastline) open air, hot spring swimming hole!

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!
norsehorse6 years ago
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.
jianqiang6 years ago
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
Dr.Bill6 years ago
I Palolo Boy
bluGill6 years ago
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!
darus676 years ago
My wife and I spent our honeymoon on Oahu about 10 yrs ago. We had an
advantage because she had spent a semester at HPU, so she knew her way
around. We went everywhere by bus.

At that time I think a 4-day unlimited ride bus pass was $10. Now it's $20, according to thebus.org

For a cheap meal the key words were Plate Lunch at a local drive in. Ironically
the ones I had weren't served on a plate, but in a foam clamshell.
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!
cubester8086 years ago
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
sbdesigns (author)  mitchellator7 years ago
(Cue Twilight Zone music) Picture taken on 15/8/07.
TIKIWOLF7 years ago
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!
Hawaii000007 years ago
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.
Lamech7 years ago
I live in Waikiki and can honestly say you've done your research - good work!
Lamech7 years ago
Instead of the bus website, you can use Google public transit - http://www.google.com/transit - this allows you to find the nearest bus stops and the best times.
gmoon7 years ago
Good tips--many of which would apply to other destinations. Thanks!
Pyratking7 years ago
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).
sbdesigns (author) 7 years ago
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!
technick297 years ago
Darn, a little late, I went last year. :D It would've been nice to know, haha. Great overview for Hawaiian n0obs though!
LinuxH4x0r7 years ago
Nice! Too bad I was only 3 when I went to Hawaii
dentsinger7 years ago
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.
=SMART=7 years ago
Nice ! Very detailed, are those your own pictures? there very good, i like the picture of the turtle the most :P