Do you think “aloha” translates to “Oh geez, this is going to be really pricy?” Although Hawaii has a reputation for being expensive, there are lots of fun things to do with the family that are cheap and even free. Especially in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, you and your gang can spend the day at bucket list beaches, pineapple plantations, and even the zoo without putting a dent in your travel budget. It’ll look like you spent big bucks — and don’t worry, we won’t spill the beans.
Visit a Pineapple Plantation
Those spiky, sweet fruit are everywhere in Hawaii, so roll over to the Dole Plantation, just off the Kamehameha Highway in Wahiawa, to see ’em growing. With moderate admission fees, parents and kids can board the Pineapple Express, wander through mini-gardens, and even try their luck in the three-acre Pineapple Garden Maze made from over 14,000 local plants. Where is the middle? Fast finishers win prizes and get to add their names to a special list at the maze’s entrance.
Hungry for some of that sweet stuff? Stop by the Plantation Grille for traditional Hawaiian dishes like kalua pork and loco moco — or safer bets like hotdogs and burgers.
Get Your Hula On
At the Ala Moana Center, west of Waikiki, you’re treated to a daily hula show and free Hawaiian music while you check out the mix of fancy stores and kitschy shops. Kids can get their wiggles out on the colorful climbing gym. There are lots of inexpensive options for dinner here, too. Try island favorites like Ala Moana Poi Bowl or Lahaina Chicken or delicious standbys like Cheeseburger Factory.
Hang Loose on Waikiki
With a million-dollar view of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach’s golden sands may feel expensive – but they’re free! No surprise that this string of beaches is a favorite family destination. With gentle waves and plenty of places to lay blankets for the day, it’s ideal for swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, picnicking, and just soaking up the sun. Kuhio Beach is great for beginning surfers. Fort DeRussy Beach offers the best snorkeling and a nice picnic area, while Sans Souci Beach provides a quieter atmosphere for swimming and relaxation.
Visit the Children’s Discovery Center
Little ones love visiting the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, a colorful museum located near Kaka’ako Waterfront Park. A whopping 38,000 square feet, the center offers lots of room to play and learn. Here, children can discover the human body, role-play grownup jobs, find out about different cultures, explore Hawaiian history, and learn about rain forests. An afternoon of family bonding and smiles is well worth the small price tag.
Go Wild with Wildlife at the Honolulu Zoo
Spread across 42 acres in the heart of Waikiki, the Honolulu Zoo is totally wild. It’s surprisingly cheap to get an up-close-and-personal look at all kinds of animals, from baboons and two-toed sloths to Komodo dragons. Plan on spending the day there, with a snack bar, cafe, playground, and spots for picnicking when you need a little down time. Looking for family fun after the sun goes down? Check out the Twilight Tour offered on Fridays and Saturdays.
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