Hawaii Christmas: 16 Most Festive Things to Do

White sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and swaying palm trees might not conjure thoughts of Christmas, but who says you have to spend the holidays shivering?

Trade in snow-topped evergreens and Santa hats for bikinis and frosty Pina Coladas, when you experience Hawaii at Christmas. Follow along to discover the best things to do at Christmas in Hawaii.

Festive celebrations in Hawaii range from traditional Christmas Parades to spellbinding hikes of Mauna Kea. While Santa Claus may seem out of place in a tropical climate, the holiday season in Hawaii overflows with the holiday spirit.

Enjoy the perfect mix of adventure and tranquility when you visit Hawaii over Christmas break. Travelers from every background will be intoxicated by this island’s mix of breathtaking beaches, stunning ocean views, and rich culture.

So whether you choose to stay on the Big Island, Oahu, or Maui, you are sure to find a multitude of amazing Hawaiian Christmas traditions, festive luaus, and light displays to enjoy.
Ready to plan the perfect Hawaii Christmas vacation?

Christmas Hawaii Hotels

A Hawaii Christmas should be full of ocean views, sand beneath your feet, and too many mai tais!

Whether you’re yearning for a family-friendly Honolulu Christmas vacation or romance-fueled rendezvous in Oahu, you’ll need to pre-book your accommodations.

Hawaii at Christmas time is widely popular, so it pays to think ahead. Find the island lodging of your fantasies when you choose to book any of our premium Hawaii Hotels & Resorts.

You will find your ideal match with offerings on every island and lodgings ranging from sleek and minimalistic to luxurious and all-inclusive.

exterior view of outdoor pool and plants at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa in Kauai, Hawaii, USAHawaii in Christmas Holiday Vacation Packages

Aloha, smart savers! While a holiday on the Hawaiian island may seem like quite the splurge, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Christmas in HI without breaking the bank. Hawaii trips in December may tend to see higher prices and crowds, but you can save your dollars with our sizzling Hawaii Christmas deals.

Whether you are on the hunt for Maui Christmas Vacation Packages* or wish to combine your Waikiki Luau and accommodations, it pays to bundle! Discover the thrill of a Maverick Helicopter Tour or the power of a GO Oahu Card when you utilize any of our premier Hawaii Vacation Packages.

*Tripster is aware of the deviation of the Maui wildfires and our hearts go out to all those affected. Please consult individual tour providers to see if services are still running.

What to do in Hawaii During Christmas

A luau Christmas dinner, Bing Crosby crooning Mele  Kalikimaka, and a canoe pulled by dolphins! The Hawaiian Islands may never be blessed by snow and pine trees, but everywhere from the Big Island to Maui is brimming with holiday tradition and pride.

Stargaze and sip on hot cocoa, or welcome in Christmas Day with Kalua Pig. A Hawaii Christmas holiday may not be traditional, but it’s certainly festive!

Sing along to Christmas songs at the annual Banyan Tree Lighting  Ceremony, or spot Santa in Honolulu. There are countless ways to make a very Merry Christmas in Hawaii.

Hawaii Christmas History

Wondering just how this heartwarming holiday made its way to the Aloha State? The festivities of the Yuletide were first introduced to Hawaii with the arrival of Protestant missionaries.

Related Post: Best Hawaii Island for Kids – Which One Should You Choose?

However, the first recorded Christmas in Hawaii was said to be in 1786 when the captain of the merchant ship Queen Charlotte docked on the island of Kauai. Once on land, they celebrated the occasion with a lavish Christmas dinner of whole roasted pig.

Big Island

Kailua Kona Christmas Parade in the Big Island of Hawaii

When: December 9th

Gather the whole family for this annual event that puts a distinct island stamp on the traditional Christmas Parade. The Kailua Kona Christmas Parade is a spirited fete in Kailua-Kona that features cheery local marching bands, seasonally decorated floats, children performers, and decorated dogs.

Stroll through the charmingly decorated streets of Kailua Kona and even wave hi to St. Nick! Each year a special seasonal theme is selected, so stay tuned for updates.

Mr and Mrs Claus in a sleigh in the Kailua Kona Christmas Parade in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA
photo credit: Parades In Kona via Facebook

Holualoa Village Association’s Annual Music & Light Festival

When: December 2nd

Music is the universal language, and you won’t want to miss this joyous explosion of song, light, and laughter. Delight in a hidden jewel of Honolulu at Christmas when you support the local Holualoa Village Association’s Annual Music & Light Festival.

Gather round at 5:30 p.m. on December 2nd, to witness the ceremonial lighting of the town Christmas Tree, gallery gatherings, art openings, live music, and more. This year’s entertainment will feature stylings from John Keawe and the Kona Choral Society.

Sample local food and drink, and mix and mingle with the community. Bring that big wave appetite, as you’ll want to stomach tons of holiday treats, Kona Coffee, and complimentary pupus.

An old blue short bed pickup truck with Santa and Elves in it driving down the road at the Holualoa Village Association’s Annual Music & Light Festival in Maui, Hawaii, USA.
photo credit: Mary Lovein via Facebook

Mauna Kea Visitor Center Volcano Hike

Pumped up for a wintery summit of Mauna Kea? Prepare those parkas as you embrace this otherworldly outdoor experience:

Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour from Kona

The mysteries of galaxies far away and majestic volcanoes beckon on the Mauna Kea Stellar Explorer Tour.

This 6-hour exploration is the only Big Island Star tour that features nighttime astronomical observation and safe daytime solar viewing. Incredible tour highlights include:

  • Safely gazing upon sunspots, flares, and other vibrant solar activity through a state-of-the-art solar telescope
  • Traveling between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the mightiest and most massive volcanoes on Earth
  • Observing real-life lava flows and local flora & fauna
  • Nighttime stargazing at a premier spot on Mauna Kea, where you will hopefully catch a glimpse of galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and more
  • A delicious picnic-style dinner
  • Complimentary hot chocolate or Kona coffee to warm your bones and a tasty dessert to cap off the meal from a local artisan baker.

friends sitting together watching the sunrise during the Mauna Kea Sunrise Experience in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USAMauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure

Desolate and haunting lava flows, a brilliant night sky, and your own private picnic at Humuula. The Mauna Kea Summit & Stars Adventure is the perfect expedition to unleash your inner explorer!

Intrepid guests 16 and older will be glad they bundled up for the snowy season as they soak up stunning views of Haleakala on Maui, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai.

Unforgettable features of this 7-8 hour tour are:

  • A majestic drive to the summit of Mauna Kea – the world’s tallest mountain and considered by many Hawaiians to be the island’s most sacred place
  • Private hot picnic dinner served family-style at Humuula
  • A local expert guide who provides cultural context and history to the area’s geology
  • One-of-a-kind stargazing at 9000 ft elevation
  • Complimentary hot cocoa and macadamia nut cookies

Whale Watch Cruise

December is the kick-off for the whale-watching season, so put down that eggnog and climb aboard the Body Glove Cruise’s 65 ft catamaran for a chance to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures.

Over 8,000 humpback whales migrate to Hawaii to breed, calf, and nurse their young every December through April. The 2.5-hour Whale Watch Cruise provides an exciting opportunity to view these whales in their natural habitat, hear their sweet symphonies with underwater hydrophones, and snap some social media-worthy photos!

As part of your whale-watching tour, you will receive the following:

  • A light snack, soda, or juice
  • Access to a premium cash bar aboard the catamaran
  • Invaluable insight and knowledge from seasoned naturalists
  • A guarantee to see whales, or you ride again for free!

Craving even more aquatic adventure? Learn even more about our world’s most majestic mammals when you reserve a spot on any of our Hawaii Whale Watching Tours.

a stunning image of a blue whale flipping through the air in a vast ocean.
photo credit: Kauai Sea Tours via Facebook

Waimea’s 63rd Annual Christmas Twilight Parade

When: December 2nd

Twinkling lights, over 60-holiday floats, and a fully outfitted Santa! Rustle up tons of mahalo and holiday cheer when you catch Waimea’s Annual Christmas Twilight Parade.

This heartwarming community event is back with a new route and promises tons of over-the-top costumes, decorated cars, and flag wavers. Parade revelry will begin at 5:30 p.m., but many families show up hours before to stake out a premier viewing spot.

Voyagers of the Pacific Luau

Craving a Big Island all-you-can-eat buffet? Refuel after plenty of presents and beach time when you spend Boxing Day at the Voyagers of the Pacific Luau. Load up on tender, flaky locally caught fish, Kalua Style Pork, and Waipio Valley Poi. Savor sweeping oceanfront views, feel the rhythmic pounding of the native drums, and witness an Imu presentation.

Toast to your tropical holiday good fortune with a fruity cocktail from the open bar. Your evening of Polynesian and South Pacific culture and revelry will be filled with fire artists, dancing, music, and more. Sit back and listen to the legends of the islands as you admire your complimentary lei.

Tuck into luscious, fluffy coconut cake and mai tai caramel as you brace yourself for the riveting Samoan fire knife dance finale.

four women dancers at Royal Kona Luau and Hula, Fire Dancing, Hawaiian Feast in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, USA
photo credit: Robin Anna Apanay via Facebook


Honolulu City Lights

When: December 2nd

Sparkling lights, tinsel everywhere, and a 50 ft tall Christmas Tree make the Honolulu City Lights celebration in Hawaii is a can’t-miss Oahu Christmas spectacle. For over 35 years, this event has brought holiday joy and amusement to families island-wide.

The action begins with the official tree lighting ceremony, followed by an electric parade of lights. After that, tiny tykes (or keiki’s in Hawaiian) will be thrilled to indulge in all the tasty eats, games, and rides.

Pro Tip: Honolulu City Lights is a nonprofit organization, and you can support them by purchasing any of their colorful Christmas swag, such as themed ornaments or T-shirts, online.

A crowd of people gathered around a large blue Christmas Tree at night during Honolulu City Lights on Oahu, Hawaii, USA.
photo credit: Honolulu City Lights Via Facebook

Santa Arrives by Canoe, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort

When: December, TBD

Ahoy mates! Santa is trading in his sleigh to cruise around in a bevy of outrigger canoes at this annual Oahu event. Little ones will cheer with glee as the holly, jolly man himself makes quite an entrance (sans reindeer) as he arrives via Outrigger canoe. Then, continue the merriment inside the Waikiki Beach Resort lobby, where Santa will be posing for photo ops.

82nd Pearl Harbor Anniversary Events

When: December 6-7th

Every year on December 7th, we honor the valor, courage, and sacrifice of the brave men and women who served at Pearl Harbor. 2024 marks the 83rd anniversary of this tragic event, and for this commemoration, there will be numerous ceremonies, memorials, performances, and even parades

Highlights of the 82nd-anniversary promise to include ceremonies at the USS Oklahoma, Utah, and Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Pro Tip: Want to brush up on your WWII history before the big day? We offer various educational and inspiring Pearl Harbor Memorial Tours to provide you with fascinating background and context on this pivotal American period.

View looking down on Pearl Harbor during the day and there appears to be some oil in the water in Oahu HawaiiRock-A-Hula

When: Select dates in December

Dreaming of a ‘Blue Christmas’ in Hawaii with the king of rock himself? Then, get your leis and your dancing shoes ready, as you won’t be able to resist shimmying and shaking in your seat at the Rock-A-Hula Show this holiday season.

This extraordinary auditory experience will take you on a magical journey throughout rock and roll history and includes tribute performances to honor musical legends such as Elvis, Elton John, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Lady Gaga.

Your 75-minute live concert seamlessly incorporates traditional Hawaiian music, hula, and fire knife dancers with a sumptuous four-course surf and turf feast.*

Pro Tip: Looking to spend Christmas Day chowing down with Elvis and the gang? You can book an extra special Magical Christmas Rock-A-Hula dinner here.

*Dinner service and cocktails offered vary depending on the ticket type purchased.

Paradise Cove Luau

When: Select Dates in December

Craving an authentic Hawaiin luau experience? Paradise Cove’s Luau is one of Hawaii’s most respected luau shows, complete with breathtaking ocean views.

This island favorite brings the heart and the heritage of Polynesian culture front and center. A dazzling show that is sure to leave you filled with seasonal cheer, this is one Luau you won’t want to miss. Your ticket to Paradise features the following:

  • Complimentary lei & mai tai cocktail
  • Demonstrations of traditional Hawaiin cooking practices featuring an underground oven
  • A mouth-watering feast featuring native Hawaiian foods & continental dishes
  • Hula performances and Samoan fire dancers
  • Testing your mettle with spear throwing and observing the net fishing techniques of old Hawaii

Hula dancer performing at Paradise Cove Luau in Oahu, Hawaii, USAMaui

Christmas 5K Run & Santa’s 1/2 Mile Keiki Dash

When: December 17th, 7:30 a.m.- 9:30 a.m.

Ready to sweat it out for Santa? There’s nothing like keeping fit for a good cause, so pull on those sneakers and prime yourself for the merriest ‘fun run’ ever!

Tis the season for giving back, and The Christmas 5k Run & Santa’s ½ mile Keiki Dash will collect non perishable donations for the Maui Food Bank.

Runners, young and old, can choose between completing the following races:

  • Santa’s Half Mile Keiki Dash – for kids eight years old and under
  • 5.5 K run- a fun 5k+ that will not be timed but will have a clock setup
  • 1 Mile Walk- a leisurely 1-mile walk from the parking lots and along the bike path and back

Banyan Tree Lighting Ceremony, Lahaina

When: All December 5:45 p.m. – Midnight

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree! Is there anything more enchanting than an illuminating tree-lighting ceremony? Join fellow holiday lovers of Maui for the annual Banyan Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Witness the ethereal glow of thousands of Christmas lights decorating the largest Banyan tree in Hawaii (1.8 acres in size). After the inaugural lighting of the tree, stick around for classic carols sung in Hawaiian, decorate Christmas cookies, and take photos with the 6ft tall tropical Snowman.

Banyan Tree lighting for Christmas in Lahaina, Hawaii, USA
photo credit: Hakuna Matata Maui via Facebook

Baldwin Home Museum, Lahaina

When: TBD

Immerse yourself in plenty of Yuletide cheer and Hawaiian missionary history when you visit the most recognizable landmark of Lahaina. Once the dwelling of Reverend Dwight Baldwin, the Baldwin Home Museum is most often associated with the legacy of the Maui Pioneer.

Related Post: Maui Itineraries: The Ultimate Day-by-Day Guide for Your Maui Vacation

This iconic missionary house will be hosting Kanikapila Serenaders in early December, cookie decorating for kids, and a Snow Zone. Related Post: Maui After Dark: All the Best Things to Do in Maui at Night

The Feast at Mokapu Luau, Wailea

Lusting for an authentic ‘ohana’ or family-style meal to ring in the holiday season with your nearest and dearest? The Feast at Mokapu Luau is the ultimate expression of Hawaii’s culinary expertise melded with authentic storytelling.

Sit back, and relax in luxury as you witness a uniquely curated cultural and gastronomical event at the opulent Wailea Resort.

Your fully immersive dinner experience includes the following:

  • Unlimited bespoke cocktails
  • A three-course feast including such local delicacies as Ahi poke, Kalua pig, and whole roasted fish
  • Interactive storytelling featuring the history of their Polynesian ancestors arriving in Maui
  • Photo opportunities with traditional dancers and entertainers
a group of performers in green Hawaiian attire, seven of them are dancing and others are singing.
photo credit: Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort via Facebook

Sun-filled paradise of volcanoes, crashing waves, and blooming poinsettias, Hawaii for Christmas serves up the perfect blend of serenity and exhilaration.

For those yearning to escape the blizzard-filled holidays of their past, Hawaii is an ideal winter getaway. From sipping mai tais, to whale watching, to scarfing down Kalua pig at your very first Luau, there are endless ways to appreciate Hawaii at Christmas.

Embrace the warm nature of the Aloha State, and prepare yourself for the white (sand) Christmas of your dreams.

The generous, welcoming spirit of the island will have you planning your return to Hawaii for Xmas faster than you can say ‘mahalo.’

Tell us, How Will You Spend Your Hawaii Christmas?

Did we miss any of the best Christmas in Hawaii events?

Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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