Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

Spending the Holidays in Hawaii


Obviously, the season for holidays is just around the corner. Since Fall arrived, some people have already started planning for their vacation. As you can see, some even consider flying to Hawaii to spend Christmas. If you are one of those people, now is the right time to book a flight.  And make vacation in paradise a reality.

Meanwhile, not everyone will think of Christmas as sitting on a beach soaking in the sun.  Some tourists drove or fly on different regions in Hawaii during the winter. Besides summer, December is obviously one of the highest peak seasons in the region.

History of Christmas in Hawaii

Since 1820, Christmas became one of the most anticipated celebrations in Hawaii. In fact, they are celebrating their Christmas together with a traditional Hawaiian festival called Makahiki. It is a traditional event marking the temporary cease of wars and conflicts for four months. Ancient Hawaiians celebrates Christmas with peaces and joyous gathering with families and friends.

The first Christmas celebration took place on 1786. Evidently, this happened when Captain George Dixon, docked aboard on Kauai.  And then, he commanded his crew to prepare a Christmas dinner. This includes roasted pig, pie and grog mixed with coconut milk—all traditional Hawaiian delicacies.  In 1856, Alexander Liholiho (King Kamehameha IV) formally declared December 25 to be his kingdom’s national day of Thanksgiving.

Spending Christmas in Hawaii

Locals begin putting up their holiday lights and Christmas after Thanksgiving. There are joyous Christmas concerts, community parades and dazzling displays throughout the state—similar to the mainland.

Here are some reasons why you should consider spending Christmas season in Hawaii:

Honolulu City Lights

The first Sunday of December marks the opening night of downtown Honolulu’s decorated city lights exhibits. This is how festive Hawaii is. Just a reminder: better book Waikiki Trolley city lights tour as traffic gets bad during this season. Significantly, you could enjoy the best views and they even play some holiday music for the tourists.

Moreover, annual display is free and open to the public through December 31.

Annual Beach Walk

The Waikiki Beach Walk is home to the Mele, a week-worth of holiday entertainment that runs from Dec. 19 through Dec. 25. As a matter of fact, you can find different entertainers from six to seven o’clock on the evening. These entertainers includes: Pookelo, Ohana, Kalikimaka and Kualoa. All in all, they will help you celebrate the holidays joyfully.

Mass at Kawaiahao Church

Tourists, most especially Catholics would like to hear the Christmas mass while on vacation. The live nativity at Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu will be on display until Dec. 23.  Every night, tourists can also enjoy live music, a queen’s blessing and keiki fun.

Ala Moana’s Free Hula Shows

Tourists can enjoy a free holiday entertainment with Holiday Hula Shows every day at 1 p.m. at the Ala Moana. Although the mall closed on Dec. 25, you can still do some last-minute shopping, since the venue is open Dec. 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Polynesian Cultural Center’s 12 Days of Christmas

Live the 12 Days of Christmas by riding holiday canoe at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The event schedule is from 6:30–9:00 every evening. For only $5.00, guests can enjoy the ride. In fact, Keiki or kids can enjoy festive train rides throughout the center. Ages of 4 and under are free and only $3 for ages 5 and up.

Royal Hawaiian Center’s Music to Your Ears

Experience the Hawaiian Christmas by listening to holiday jingles by Kawika Trask and Friends in the Royal Grove. You can also spot Santa and take selfies with him in front of Royal Hawaiian Center’s Christmas tree. They decorated the Christmas tree with palaka bows and ukuleles. The Center is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 6-8pm.

Hawaii Bowl

The Hawaii Bowl kicks-off at 3 p.m. local time at the Aloha Stadium.  The event is always perfect for sports fans who prefer to watch football during winter.

USS Missouri Battleship

On Christmas Eve, you’ll have the opportunity to see Santa at the USS Missouri Battleship in Pearl Harbor. Certainly, you can take photos with Santa with your camera or smartphones. Round-trip shuttle service is complimentary with the cost of admission. For those without base access and only wanting to visit Santa, there is a round-trip shuttle. You can definitely  purchase it at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center cost of $3.00 per person. We do offer a half-day or full-day Pearl Harbor tour.

Arrival of Santa

Each year, Santa arrives via canoe on Christmas Eve. Grab the kids and head to the beach in front of the Halekulani Hotel for this fun-filled event. Usually, Santa arrives around 4:30 p.m.