A visit to Oahu can be expensive enough, but there are ways to save money with free and fun activities for the entire family.
In these stressful and economically challenged times, a vacation is on everyone’s mind. Buying the tickets and hotel rooms on Oahu are expensive enough. Even renting a car can be pricey, but fortunately, Oahu has plenty of free activities for the whole family.
The Arizona Memorial
The Arizona Memorial is one the most popular tourist site on the entire island for a good reason. It has history, symbolism, and can awaken your American spirit. Before going to the actual memorial, you will watch a short historical video on the attack of Pearl Harbor. You will then board a small transport boat with actual U.S.N. sailors and head out to the sunken ship. There, you will see that the ship is still leaking oil into the ocean and will be for a while to come. It is a somber place with a sobering experience. A memorial of all of the fallen in the attack it also located at this site. Just a few tips:
1. Go early! The Arizona Memorial usually has a line for hours and tickets are on a first come first serve basis. Once the park opens, staff will give you and your party members a ticket with a number on it. That number indicates what group you are in and what time you will enter the movie theater to being your memorial journey. The park opens at 7 am and shows begin at 8 am and end at 3 pm. If you have to wait, there is a free memorial museum and gift shop. The bowfin submarine is in the same area, but does charge admission to board. Also, you can purchase tickets to see the USS Missouri, or “Mighty Mo”, but the tickets are a little pricey at $20 for adults and $10 for children. You will have to take a short bus ride from the Arizona Memorial onto Ford Island to board this ship.
2. The Arizona Memorial is NOT on Pearl Harbor Naval base. You do not have to go on the base to get to the memorial. Just follow the highway signs if you have a car. If you are taking the bus, be sure to consult thebus.org to figure out your route and costs.
3. If you are a military member, active or retired, you have a special opportunity to take the Navy Admiral’s boat tour which is free. For contact information regarding this tour, contact ITT located at the Pearl Harbor NEX Mall. Book at least 30 days in advance, space and tours are limited. Note that with the Admiral’s Cruise, if a person of higher rank or an admiral wishes to use the boat, you will be bumped off the tour. Make sure to make back up plans.
Hiking is not only a fun and adventurous activity, but it is also a workout. From beginners to advanced hikers Oahu has it all. Two favorite hiking spots are Maunawili Falls and Koko Head.
If you are a beginner or want to see water falls, take the Maunawili Falls trail. It is a one and a half mile hike on a well worn path. At the end of the trail is a large, cool pool of water with a natural waterfall. You can climb the rocks to the side of the waterfall and cliff dive into the water. Although a beautiful and easy hike, there are always cautions to take. Always take water and wear the appropriate shoes and mind the weather. If it rains, the trail will be muddy. Also, in Hawaii, stay away from stagnant or standing pools of water especially at Maunawili Falls. They can be contaminated with “Nercrotizing Fasciitis” or the flesh eating bacteria. Although extremely rare, you better not take you chances.
For the more advanced hikers who want a challenge, take the Koko Head hike. Koko Head is a crater, but on one side there is an old railroad track scaling the side of the mountain. It is more that 1,000 steps to the top and almost straight up. Many people try to reach the top in a specific amount of time. Even though the hike might be difficult, the reward is the view from the top. The view scans almost all of Oahu and the ocean look incredible. While at the top, explore the area. With old army bunker and helicopter pad, the scenery is unique. Take the path to the right and follow the crater lip around. Again, there are some precautions. Take plenty of water. This hike offers no shade and can be quite intense if not used to athletic activity. Take your time if necessary. Also, since the trail is an old railroad track, it can be hard to get the proper footing. Wear the right shoes.
The Staple in Hawaii: Beaches
No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a trip or two to the beach. Hawaii does offer a variety of activities, but number one on everybody’s list are the beaches.
Most visitors to the island stay in Waikiki. Of course, located there is Waikiki beach. It extends down the southeastern coast of Oahu and is one of the most talked about beaches in the world. The beaches here are usually busy, but are convenient and have many other activities to offer. For example, near the Hilton and Hale Koa hotels, you can rent a canoe, paddle boat, or even a large flat float for a decent price. Follow the beach towards Diamond Head Mountain and watch the surfers. Towards the end of the beach, you will run into the Honolulu Zoo and Honolulu Aquarium. You can always, though, just grab a towel or sun chair and bake.
Although Waikiki is beautiful and convenient, there are many other beaches on the island worth seeing. Another favorite is the North Shore area. There are many beaches for different tastes. North shore is known for its massive waves, but Waimea Bay is a calmer beach. The waves are minimal there and it is perfect for sun lovers. Complete with sand volleyball court, Waimea is relaxing and fun. Continue past Waimea, you will arrive at Turtle Beach. Turtle Beach is known for spotting sea turtles. Sea turtle often come here and even come up onto the sand. However, do not touch or get with a few feet of these animals. They are endangered and protected, so it is illegal. Not to mention, the sea turtle can be aggressive. Go directly past Turtle Beach is Sunset Beach. Another famous beach, Sunset is often the host to surf competitions. Another beach that is good for sun bathing, Sunset is complete with big waves and plenty sand. The North Shore has it all. If you plan on making the trip up there, go early. Parking can be difficult and sometimes the beaches are crowded. Still, it’s worth the trip.
If you plan on taking a trip to Oahu and want to save money, there are ways to do it. If you don’t want to rent a car, take the bus. Oahu has a wonderful and cheap bus system that goes all over the entire island. Visitors can buy visitor passes at reduced prices that last a few days.
A vacation can be relieving and rejuvenating, especially if you are saving money. Visit the Arizona, go hiking or hit the beach. These free and fun activities will keep you occupied and on budget.