Planning a vacation over Christmas but don’t want to loose any of the holiday magic? There are many fun ways to celebrate the holidays in Hawaii. We do it a little different in the islands, but the holiday spirit and the aloha spirit are a perfect combination for a festive season. Holiday memories are made with unique experiences to entertain all ages, a tropical twist on traditions, and whole lot of cheer.
Experience holiday lights on Maui
During the Christmas holidays in Hawaii, the 147 year old banyan tree in Lahaina is lit with thousands of festive lights. Covering almost 2 acres and more than 60 feet of height, this is one of the largest banyan trees in the world. Visit at sunset to experience thousands of birds settling into the branches, then watch as the massive tree becomes illuminated in a dazzling display of holiday lights.
Santa comes to Hawaii too!
Santa travels around the Hawaiian islands in true island style, by boat! The big guy arrives at Ka’anapali Beach on the west side of maui via a catamaran where he roams Whaler’s Village handing out goodie bags and posing for selfies with his biggest fans.
When Santa visits the resort area of Wailea in south Maui, it’s by outrigger canoe. This makes for a truly Hawaiian entrance, as Santa is paddled to shore at Wailea Beach much to the delight of young spectators.
Not only is Santa’s sleigh a bit different in Hawaii, but his attire tends to be much more casual, opting for an Aloha shirt and slippahs over the traditional suit and boots. We do, however, wonder how he delivers gifts to good girls and boys in a climate that doesn’t require a chimney.
Shop local for unique, island inspired gifts
There are many opportunities to support local artisans and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list at holiday markets.
- At the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center located between the north shore town of Paia and upcountry town of Makawao, you’ll find one-of-a-kind handmade gifts. By shopping the Hui Holidays in Hawaii event, you’ll be supporting local artists and the non-profit arts organization.
- The Maui Swap meet is held every Saturday in Kahului and is a great place to discover local artists selling their creations at lower prices than you’ll find in the resort areas.
- The Fairmont Ke Alani hosts a local craft market each Friday in the hotel lobby, where you’ll also find one of the largest Christmas tree displays in Hawaii.
- For last minute gifts and holiday cheer, the Grand Wailea offers a made on Maui holiday market, photos with Santa, free hot cocoa and cookies on December 23.
Christmas dinner, Hawaiian style
I’m so tired of turkey and cranberry sauce! Spice up your traditional Christmas dinner with a Hawaiian style menu during a Christmas dinner cruise aboard the Calypso catamaran from Ma’alaea Harbor. Humpback whale sightings are guaranteed this time of year, as thousands of the majestic creatures migrate to spend the holidays in Hawaii, to mate and give birth to their young. Impressive breaching behavior only adds to the absolute splendor of a Maui sunset.
If you’d prefer to stay on land, you might consider spending the evening with those you love at a Christmas luau. The Grand Wailea, Royal Lahaina and Wailea Marriott luaus are all offered on Christmas day, a chance to soak in some of the local culture while creating unique memories of the holidays in Hawaii with your family.
Give back to the local community
The holidays in Hawaii are for quality time spent as a family, however that looks for you. It is also a time to share with those who may be less fortunate. Give back to the Maui community through a donation to the local food bank or participate in the Salvation Army Angel Tree by fulfilling the wish list of a local child.
Ring in the New Year on island time
Set sail for an evening of dining and dancing under the stars and the best vantage point for firework displays. The largest fireworks show on Maui typically happens in Wailea but you can expect to see and hear colorful explosions wherever you are. Maui celebrates NYE with a bang.
If you’re looking to get dressed up and go out on the town, check out the Feast at Mokapu luau at the Andaz, the NYE party at Taverna in Kapalua, Mala Ocean Tavern or Down the Hatch in Lahaina.
Want to start off the new year right? How about sunrise from the top of the world’s largest dormant volcano (tour recommended), or a trip to the crater island of Molokini aboard a snorkeling cruise?
However you choose to spend your holidays in Hawaii, there is no lack of joyous events or activities to entertain the entire family.