Insider tips to visiting Oahu: Fun places to go, planning your trip and other helpful tips to stretch your budget

Insider tips to visiting Oahu: Fun places to go, planning your trip and other helpful tips to stretch your budget

Oahu is a very expensive place to visit but there are some quick and easy inside tips to saving when you visit and travel just like a local would here in Oahu. We share local ways of eating, shopping, getting around the island and what to see and do on the island without breaking the bank.

Having traveled to Oahu many times, I’ve found these tips to really enjoying a vacation on the island and saving a few bucks along the way, while still having a great time!

Check out these insider tips to visiting Oahu and you’ll want to book your trip out to the island soon!

Picnic on the beach at magic island beach park

Picnic on the beach

All the beaches are public land so access is free to enjoy the beach scene and what a better way of doing this than to have an actual picnic on the beach with your favorite local Hawaiian snacks or foods.

You can do a take out bento box or plate lunch, a poke bowl from Food land (one of the best poke places to shop on the island) and some local beers and your set for a fun and inexpensive experience on the beach.

Here’s a few of our favorite spots around the island to enjoy the beach or views

Magic Island Beach Park – a more popular local beach next to Waikiki with easy parking and not so crowded with tourists. Lots of picnic and barbeque spots around the park area.

Kaena Point on the far western part of the island with some nice hiking trails, tidepools and gorgeous rugged scenery to enjoy without all the crowds

Waimanalo Beach – on week nights the beach area here is lovely and uncrowded with magical mountains on one side and gorgeous sandy beach with aqua colored ocean on the other side.

Waimea Bay Beach Park – on the North Shore visitors opt for some of the more popular spots, but sunset beach is long and lots of space to spread out and you’ll also get a fabulous sunset if you hang out later in the afternoon to nighttime.

Hotels are expensive book an Air bnb or condo stay instead

With hotel room rates at all-time highs with local taxes and resort fees added, housing is very expensive. You can offset that by staying at Air Bnb’s, condos or even hostels if you are more in a budget mindset and can find decent accommodations even in Waikiki area. Having kitchen and washing / dryer amenities available helps visitors that are on a strict budget but also have the flexibility to cook and do easy travel chores that can be done at this type of accommodation.

Hiking is fun and free on Oahu

Hiking is fun and free or inexpensive around Oahu

There are so many amazing hiking opportunities in Oahu to explore from some of the most well-known like Diamond Head and Makapu’u light house trail to more local style places to enjoy with views, Oahu waterfalls and stunning landscape to enjoy.

Some of our favorite hikes include:

Hiking is fun and free in Oahu

Diamond Head trail – climb the famous Diamond Head to the top on this historic site with amazing views below of Honolulu and to the Eastern side of the islands. It’s definitely the most popular hiking trail to do on the island.

Koko Head trail – climb up railroad tracks all the way to the summit of Koko Head a cinder cone on the east side of the island with stunning views all around the east side.

Lanikai Pill box – also on the east side with fabulous view above where these old bunkers with graffiti are located and gorgeous views below to Lanikai and East Hawaii

Ehukai Pill box – Located on the Northshore area above Ehukai beach, the trail leading up to Ehukai is mostly forested and a steady incline.

Eat off the side streets in Waikiki and local mom and pop shops

Eat off the side streets in Waikiki

If you are looking for good and affordable meals in the Waikiki area then head out to Kuhio Avenue which is parallel to expensive Kalakaua Blvd, but a world apart in prices with more affordable places eat like a local. The area off Kapahulu and Monsarrat have also some affordable dining venues in town to get local bento style, plate lunches and a variety of mom-and-pop eateries at good prices.

Find a BYOB eateries

Alcohol licenses in Oahu are expensive so a few local restaurants opt for no license and let you bring your own and save on drinking. Find a local grocery store and get your favorite wine or beer and check out these local style BYOB restos in the area and you’ll have a great meal and drinks for a more affordable price in town or around the island.

**Check out some of our favorite places to eat around Waikiki here for more inspiration.

Go swim or surf late in the day to night

Go swim or surf late in the day to night

If you want to avoid the crowds and busy beaches from Waikiki to Ala Moana and around the island, go late afternoon to night when most of the crowds are gone. The average water temperature is still quite nice and if you need to rent a surf board or watercraft, you might cut a better deal with any of the Beach Boy outfitters later in the day.

Take Public transportation

The Bus goes everywhere around the island and only costs $5 for a whole day pass and travels frequently downtown and areas outside so it’s easy and cheap to get around. If you are more flexible with your time then take The Bus and travel like a local

Happy Hour time on Oahu

Happy Hour time on Oahu

Many popular bars and restaurants offer Happy Hour meals, appetizers and drinks for better prices so you definitely can still party at fun places for a cheaper or affordable price in Waikiki and around the island.

Check out these happy hour venues here for going out and enjoying a fun happy hour time in Oahu.

Go Camping around the island

Yes, there are actual camp sites you can enjoy on the North Shore and save costs on accommodations. Plus, many are beach side locations which is another perk to staying up here on the North Shore or anywhere around the island.

A weird glitch doesn’t technically allow camping at the beaches but you can fish overnight and still have a tent set up for a quick snooze. Surprisingly, many locals and visitors in the know have done this so get that fishing pole ready just to make it look legit and you might even catch dinner for free.

If you want to do it legit, then check out Bellows Field Beach Park here for reserving a camping spot on the east side of the island.

Skip the Luau and do a catamaran cruise

Skip the Luau and do a catamaran cruise

Not only are luau in Oahu expensive and overrated, you can find a cheaper alternative with the catamaran cruises offered in Waikiki what is fun, outdoors with a fantastic view of the landscape from a water view.

Get off Oahu and do an interisland trip

Get off Oahu and do an interisland trip

Go out and explore the outer islands. There’s a lot of interisland deals with round trip flights, so there’s no excuse not to check out the other islands and local attractions to explore these islands.

Weather and best time to visit Oahu

The weather on Oahu is inviting year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and what you’d like to experience especially visiting during peak or off season on the island.

Winter (December to February):

  • The winter months bring pleasant temperatures, ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit.
  • This season is ideal for surf enthusiasts, as the North Shore’s big waves attract professional surfers from around the world.
  • It’s also the whale-watching season, so you can catch glimpses of humpback whales migrating to Hawaiian waters.

Spring (March to May):

  • Spring offers comfortable temperatures, typically in the 70s and 80s.
  • It’s a great time for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring the island’s lush landscapes.
  • Crowds are generally smaller, making it a quieter time to visit.

Summer (June to August):

  • Summer is the peak tourist season with warm temperatures in the 80s and 90s.
  • The ocean is calm on the south shore, making it perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
  • Festivals and events are in full swing, offering a vibrant cultural experience.

Fall (September to November):

  • Fall continues to provide warm weather, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
  • It’s a fantastic time for water sports, including surfing and paddleboarding.
  • With fewer tourists, you can enjoy a more relaxed visit to popular attractions.

Opinion: The best time to visit Oahu truly depends on your interests. If you’re a surfing enthusiast and want to witness the big waves of the North Shore, winter is the time for you. Spring offers a quieter experience with pleasant weather, while summer is perfect for those seeking bustling beach activities and cultural events. Fall provides a balance of warm weather and fewer crowds. As a content creator and photographer, each season offers unique opportunities for capturing the beauty and culture of Oahu, so choose the time that aligns best with your goals and enjoy your visit.

Check out these other topics on visiting Oahu

Check out all these other ideas and places to visit around Waikiki and Oahu Island for more inspiration.

Waikiki Beach Guide

Free things to do in Honolulu

Top things to do in Honolulu

Family friendly beaches in Oahu

Top things to do in Waikiki

Free or cheap things to do in Oahu

Best restaurants to eat in Honolulu

Conclusion to inside tips on visiting Oahu

In conclusion, Oahu is a fantastic year round destination that seamlessly marries its rich cultural heritage with breathtaking natural beauty. From the bustling streets of Honolulu to the tranquil beaches of the North Shore, this island has something for every traveler.

Exploring its beautiful landscapes, savoring local cuisine, and immersing yourself in the aloha spirit are essential elements of the Oahu experience. While you go on some outdoor adventures, remember to respect the land, its history, and the warm-hearted people who call it home.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor thrills, historical insights, or simply a relaxing beach getaway, Oahu’s variety of activities and offerings is bound to leave a lasting impression, so get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of Hawaii.

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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.