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Free Stuff to Do: Other Fun Items


You see those mountains behind you all day when you are sunning on the beach? You can walk and climb into and on them, a great change of pace from the beach if you wish for one. Take a look at Hawaii Trails for some suggestions. In those coupon books you pick up on the streets you will also find tour services that will take you hiking, albeit for a price. Don't just set off on your own, however. The temperature can drop off pretty quickly as you climb, and very few trails have drinking water available. One trail we took had some slippery spots where a sprained ankle or even a broken leg seemed quite doable.

The effort was worth the price, as our kids now know what a rain forest is because they walked in one, instead of eating lunch at some dippy "Rainforest Cafe" and never knowing how much mud you get in a place where it rains all the time.

You can also call the Hawaiian Nature Center at 955-0100 for more ideas on hikes.

Waikiki History

Beyond being a huge playground, Waikiki historically has always held an important place in local history as a playground for long-ago Hawaiian royalty. A free walking tour runs Monday through Saturday, beginning at the surfboard-shaped marker at the entrance to Kapiolani Park on Kalakaua Avenue near the zoo at 9am. This is all at the eastern end of Waikiki and very reachable from most hotels. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is very casual. You can drop out early if the kids get tired.

The Newspaper

Hawaii is actually home to real people, in addition to the gazillion temporary tourist residents. Buy a local newspaper on Friday and Sunday to find notices of all sorts of free and low cost things to do. There are library story hours, museums, runner's groups, organized hikes and the like, most free"€just show up.

Free Aquarium

On Kalakaua Avenue near Royal Hawaiian Avenue is a huge DFS Duty Free Shop. The front window is actually a two story aquarium filled with native Hawaiian fish. You look at them for free. You can look at them from the street, you can look at them from the stairs, you can look at them from above, you can count them one-two-three, you can see one fish, two fish all swimming you see!

They have a cool little mean looking blowfish in the tank too.

The same store, right near the fishes, has two terminals with web cameras that allow you to send a free email picture of yourself to anyone with an email address (but remember to bring the email address to the store with you of course). Upstairs there is even a tree house slide for younger kids (our six year old loved it, our nine year old said it was "lame", her favorite word of choice now. I hate TV).

You can also ride the duty free store's double-decker bus around Waikiki for free if you pick up one of their store guides inside; just look at what the other passengers are snagging and carrying.

(In case you are wondering what all this duty free stuff is about, it is about selling luxury goods to Japanese tourists at prices most Americans couldn't afford even if they sold a kidney to science. In fact, unless you have a passport and international ticket in hand at the store, you can't even walk into the actual duty free sales area)

Don't Bother with the Aloha Tower Marketplace

By which I mean it is boring and expensive and the liveliest thing they have is a Hooter's. The area is a set of shops arranged around a clock tower, on the pier where cruise ships used to land their passengers before major air travel was available. We went there twice (once because we took the wrong bus so we have an excuse) and it was really deserted. The stores sold junky souvenirs and the windows at the top of the clock tower were smeary and did not offer the "once in a lifetime" view they promised, except that we won't be going back so maybe it was only once in our lifetimes.