Who Said Hawaii Was Expensive?

From musical performances to historic memorials, there are plenty of things to do on Oahu without spending a dime.

While the Hawaiian language may have one of the shortest alphabets in the world, Oahu is definitely not short on affordable attractions and activities. To celebrate the 12 letters of the Hawaiian language—A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, W (minus the 13th, which is the ‘okina symbol, similar to an apostrophe)—we pulled together 12 of our favorite free (or almost free) things to do in Honolulu and Oahu while on your Hawaii vacation, all in Hawaiian-alphabet order. (If you want to pick up a few key words and phrases beyond aloha and mahalo, check out this language guide.)

A is for: Ala Moana Center’s Centerstage. Centerstage serves up free performances ranging from hula to hip-hop, with choral groups, ballet, bands and more. 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu. Tel. 808-955-9517. www.alamoanacenter.com

E is for: Ehukai Beach Park. During the winter, this famous North Shore beach (aka the “Banzai Pipeline”) is home to world-class surfing competitions. Sit on the beach and get a cheap thrill watching professional surfers tackle monster waves.

I is for: Iolani Palace. The only official state residence of royalty on U.S. soil features free outdoor Friday concerts by the Royal Hawaiian Band (on most Fridays from noon to 1 p.m. on the palace grounds, weather permitting; check the band’s calendar for scheduled dates). 364 South King St., Honolulu. Tel. 808-522-0822. www.iolanipalace.org

O is for: Orchestra. The Honolulu Symphony Orchestra offers free concerts throughout the year as a way of giving back to the community. Dates for community concerts, when announced, can be found on the orchestra’s Web site.

U is for: USS Arizona Memorial. Free tours of this famous memorial, built to honor the more than 1,110 men who died on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941, are offered daily (tickets are first come, first served). 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu. Tel. 808-422-0561. Hours: Visitor center open daily 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., timed programs to the memorial begin at 7:45 a.m. and continue until 3 p.m. www.nps.gov

H is for: Honu (sea turtles) at Laniakea Beach. Located on Oahu’s North Shore just past Haleiwa but before Waimea Bay (look for parking across from the beach just after a ranch with white fencing), this beach is home to the honu who surf the waves and come ashore to bask in the sun. Protected by law, the turtles are endangered reptiles. Respect their home, and look but do not touch.

K is for: Kailua Beach Park, Kaimana, KeWa`ena, Kualoa Regional Park and Kuhio. These are just a sample of incredible Oahu beaches. All beaches are open to the public (by law) and are free.

L is for: Lighthouses. Walk past the lighthouse on Diamond Head (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and take in the scenery of the Pacific Ocean. Or, take a day hike along the access road south of the Makapu’u lookout to view the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. Diamond Head State Monument, Diamond Head Road between Makapu’u Ave. and 18th Ave., Honolulu. Admission: $5 per car or $1 per person for pedestrians. Hours: open daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. www.hawaiistateparks.org

M is for: Museum. The Bishop Museum sponsors two free days annually: Dec. 18, to celebrate the birthday of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop and Jan. 25, to celebrate the birthday of Charles Reed Bishop. On May 2, the museum also hosts Military Appreciation Day, offering free access to all members of the military, their family and kama’aina (locals). 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu. Tel. 808-847-3511. www.bishopmuseum.org.

N is for: Nuuanu Pali Lookout. This panoramic point (1,186 feet above sea level), is located on Oahu’s windward side. If driving, take the Nuuanu Pali Lookout exit off Highway 61. Hours: daily during daylight hours. www.hawaiistateparks.org

P is for: Punchbowl Cemetery. Where else but on Oahu could you experience breathtaking, panoramic views from an historic national cemetery in the crater of an extinct volcano—all at no charge. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, 2177 Puowaina Drive, Honolulu. Tel. 808-532-3720. Hours: open daily, Sept. 30 through March 1, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; March 2 through Sept. 29, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; on Memorial Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. www.cem.va.gov

W is for: Waikiki International Market Place. This multicultural bazaar in the heart of Waikiki offers something for everyone, including free entertainment five nights a week. 2330 Kalakaua Ave. Tel. 808-971-2080. Hours: open daily 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. www.internationalmarketplacewaikiki.com

Destinations: Hawaii, Honolulu, Oahu

Activities: Hiking, Arts and Entertainment, Museums, Sightseeing, Swimming