20 free things to do in Honolulu

Honolulu is full of free things to do, from markets and museums to beaches and stunning scenic drives, not to mention plenty of sites that tell the story of Hawai'i's long, complex history.

Here are 20 of the best free things to do.

Aloha Tower

Built in 1926, this 10-story building was once the city’s tallest. Back when all tourists arrived by ship, this waterfront icon – with its clock tower inscribed with ‘Aloha’ – greeted every visitor.

These days, Hawaii Pacific University occupies the mostly defunct Aloha Tower Marketplace, which was meant to ensnare people arriving at the nearby cruise ship docks.

Take the elevator to the top-floor observation deck for fabulous 360-degree views of Honolulu and the waterfront.

Aliʻiolani Hale

The first major government building ordered by the Hawaiian monarchy in 1874, the ‘House of Heavenly Kings’ was designed to be a royal palace, although it was never used as such.

Don't miss the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, where you can see thought-provoking displays about martial law during WWII, the overthrow of the monarchy and the reign of Kamehameha I.

Tantalus-Round Top Scenic Drive

Starting 2 miles above downtown Honolulu, a narrow switchback road cuts its way up into the Makiki Valley's forest reserves and climbs almost to the top of Mt Tantalus (2013ft), aka Puʻu ʻOhiʻa.

There is a a profusion of tropical plants along the way. This 8.5-mile circuit is a two-way loop called Tantalus Drive on its western side, Round Top Drive to the east.

Cathedral of St. Andrew

King Kamehameha IV, attracted to the royal Church of England, decided to build his own cathedral and founded the Anglican Church in Hawaii in 1861.

The cathedral’s cornerstone was laid in 1867, four years after his death on St Andrew’s Day – hence the building's name. The French Gothic building uses stone and stained glass shipped from England.

See the full list here
See the full list here