Exploring Waikiki on a Budget: Things to Do for Less than $20

Traveling can be expensive, especially in a destination like Hawaii where there’s so much to experience. But with some careful planning, discovering this island paradise without breaking the bank is easily achievable. To help you prepare your vacation itinerary, here are some of the best things to do in Waikiki on a budget. Better still, all are under $20!


8 Things to Do in Waikiki on a Budget


1. Ride Waves at Iconic Waikiki Beach

  • About: Waikiki Beach is where the father of modern surfing Duke Kahanamoku made wave riding famous. Head to the Canoes area for waves perfect for novice surfers.  
  • Cost: Surfboard rental at Faith Surf School: $20/hour; Boogie board rental at Surf in The City: $15 (from 10 am to 3 pm)
  • Location: The golden sands are literally steps from Waikiki Resort Hotel


2. Pedal Around Town with Biki

  • About: Explore Waikiki’s streets with a cool breeze running through your hair via Honolulu’s bike-sharing service, Biki.
  • Cost: $4.50 for a one-way ride up to 30 minutes or $12 for 24 hours of unlimited rides (max. 30 minutes per ride)
  • Location: Over 130 pickup and drop-off stations around Honolulu


3. Hike Up Diamond Head State Monument

  • About: Lace up a pair of comfy sneakers and follow the mile-long trail to the top of Waikiki’s emblematic volcanic crater, Diamond Head. Unrivaled views over Waikiki, the coastline and downtown Honolulu await. 
  • Cost: $5 for general admission, $10 for parking
  • Location: About a 10-minute drive from our hotel


4. Learn About Hawaiian Sea Life at the Waikiki Aquarium

  • About: From angelfish to monk seals and green sea turtles, there are over 3,500 marine species on display at Waikiki Aquarium. It’s the second-oldest still-operating aquarium in the USA and among the best things to do for families in Waikiki on a budget. 
  • Cost: Adults $12, juniors (aged 4 to 12) $5, children (aged 3 and under) free
  • Location: 2777 Kalākaua Ave, roughly five minutes by car or 15 minutes on foot from the resort


5. Walk the Waikiki Historic Trail

  • About: The Waikiki Historic Trail is a self-guided tour that delves into the legends and folklore of Waikiki. There are 21 stops on the 2-mile route, each marked by a surfboard-shaped interpretive sign.
  • Cost: Free (mobile trail map available for download on the website)
  • Location: The closest markers to the hotel are on the Waikiki beachfront


6. Attend Kuhio Beach Hula Show

  • About: Every Tuesday and Friday at 6.30 pm, the traditional blowing of a conch shell signals the start of the Kuhio Beach Hula Show. It’s followed by an hour of the island’s finest hula dance troupes. 
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: Kuhio Beach, near the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and a 3-minute walk from the resort


7. Arts and Music at the Royal Hawaiian Center

  • About: The Royal Hawaiian Center is an upscale mall with a busy events schedule that’s ideal if you’re visiting Waikiki on a budget. Activities range from hula and ukulele lessons to lei-making and live Hawaiian music. 
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: 2201 Kalākaua Ave, about a 10-minute walk from the hotel


8. Watch the Royal Hawaiian Band

  • About: Established in 1836, the Royal Hawaiian Band dates back to the time of King Kamehameha. This unique brass band ensemble performs both traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music. 
  • Cost: Free
  • Location: The bandstand at Kapiolani Park (Sundays at 2 pm)


Where to Eat in Waikiki on a Budget


1. Cuckoo Coconuts

  • About: Onolicious Hawaiian comfort food, tropical cocktails, and live music lure visitors to Waikiki on a budget at this retro tiki bar. Good for poke salad, Hawaiian-style fish and chips, and more.
  • Cost: Everything under $19
  • Location: 333 Royal Hawaiian Ave, about 10 minutes by foot from Waikiki Resort Hotel


2. Marugame Udon

  • About: Flavorful and authentic Japanese fare at affordable prices. The menu includes made-to-order udon noodles, rice bowls, tempura, and salads. 
  • Cost: Udon and rice bowls are around $8 to $15
  • Location: 2310 Kuhio Avenue, less than a 10-minute walk away


3. Musubi Cafe Iyasume

  • About: Perfect spot for Japanese cheap eats claiming to be the only place solely dedicated to rice balls in Hawaii. Must-tries are the specialist spam musubi (rice balls). 
  • Cost: From around $2 to $4 for a single rice ball
  • Location: Three Waikiki locales, with the closest to our resort at 2427 Kuhio Avenue


4. Rainbow Drive-In

  • About: This is another excellent place to eat in Waikiki on a budget, especially if you like hearty comfort food like burgers and loco moco (rice topped with a burger, fried egg, and gravy).
  • Cost: Mains and sides from $3.95 to $12.50
  • Location: 3308 Kanaina Ave, about 15 minutes by foot, plus two other Honolulu locations


5. Steak Shack

  • About: Popular beachside takeout for steak and chicken plates served with rice and a choice of ranch, Italian, or Thousand Island dressing.
  • Cost: Plates from $11.25
  • Location: 2161 Kalia Road, roughly a 5-minute drive or 15-minute walk away