5 free things: Honolulu bargains beyond beaches

The USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the grave for sailors and Marines who  died in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Enlarge photo

Marco Garcia/Associated Press file photo

The USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is the grave for sailors and Marines who died in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941.

HONOLULU – Airfare, hotels, guided tours and pricey luaus – a Hawaii vacation can add up, especially now that hotel room prices are back on the rise.

But walk past the expensive hotels in Waikiki, the tourist epicenter of Honolulu, and the greatest attraction of all awaits, for free: the beach.

With miles of coastline in Oahu, there’s certain to be a sand, sea and surf spot to your liking.

But if that’s not enough, there are plenty of other great things to see and do without spending a dime. Here are five:

Royal Hawaiian Band

This 32-member band including three tuba players, a steel guitarist and a bassoonist dates back to the days the monarchy ruled Hawaii. The band was founded in 1836 by King Kamehameha III, and now runs as its own municipal agency. Today, it plays free concerts around Hawaii, with a standing date every Friday at noon at Iolani Palace near downtown.

Royal Hawaiian Center

This mall in Waikiki has its own cultural programming budget, offering free music every night and free activities every day, from lei-making to hula and free performances twice weekly from dancers and musicians from the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Manoa Falls hike

This is one of the most popular hikes on Oahu, loved by tourists and locals for its natural beauty. Fair warning: Although it’s only eight-tenths of a mile, it’s not exactly a cakewalk. But if you want something different or easier, you can always go to the state’s trail website – http://goo.gl/hY4QL – to find your path.

Uss Arizona Memorial

This popular site at Pearl Harbor actually is a grave, a resting place for crew members who died in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Visitors can see it on a first-come, first-serve basis, and many go to see a significant piece of history and pay respects to those who died.

Hawaii State Art Museum

The Hawaii State Art Museum is free and well-located in historic downtown Honolulu, offering a bonus of seeing other historic buildings in the neighborhood. It’s open five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, and offers rotating exhibits.

The Royal Hawaiian Center mall in Waikiki is home to great shopping, of course, but also a variety of cultural programs and events. Enlarge photo

Royal Hawaiian Center

The Royal Hawaiian Center mall in Waikiki is home to great shopping, of course, but also a variety of cultural programs and events.

The Hawaii State Art Museum is on the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building in Honolulu. The museum includes four galleries. Enlarge photo

Hawaii State Art Museum/Associated Press file photo

The Hawaii State Art Museum is on the second floor of the No. 1 Capitol District Building in Honolulu. The museum includes four galleries.

Nearly 1,200 U.S. servicemen died on the USS Arizona in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Visitors can see it on a first-come, first-serve basis. Enlarge photo

Marco Garcia/Associated Press file photo

Nearly 1,200 U.S. servicemen died on the USS Arizona in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Visitors can see it on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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