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Fun Things To Do In Maui Over The Holidays

Christmas time in the islands is special every year and 2019 is no exception.  All over Maui there are events, festivals and entertainment for young and old.  Santa will visit multiple beaches, arriving by canoe with treats and gifts!

There are many holiday events throughout the island including:

Weather In December

Don’t worry too much about the weather during the Holiday season.  On Christmas Day we tend to have some of the nicest weather anywhere in the USA with even a light dusting of snow sometimes at the summit of Haleakala.   The weather will be a bit more windy than other months and December is normally the wettest month. Most of the rainfall is on the North side of the island which rarely reaches the resorts and hotels areas on the south and west sides.  The island is bright green from the winter rains, waterfalls in the mountains and the road to Hana are full on flowing. The daily average temperature at sea level is very comfortable with low 80s during the day and dipping to the mid 60’s at night. If you’re lucky enough to see the snow on the summit of Haleakala keep in mind that this National Park often closes during this kind of weather due to poor driving conditions.  It’s spectacular to see the snow covered summit of Haleakala but the snow is often more like sleet or small hail and is usually gone within a day…

a large green field with a mountain in the background

Lighting Of The Banyan Tree

a tree in the middle of the street

Nothing says it’s Christmas time like the lighting of Lahaina’s giant Banyan Tree.  It’s so pretty- it’s a must see! Over the past 20+ years it’s become a special holiday tradition at Christmas to light the trunk and prop roots (which look just like additional trunks) of the tree.

a giraffe stands next to a tree

There’s ambience galore, whether you’re on a date or just hanging with family and friends for a special evening on our beautiful island – this is a great spot. And, (if you’re a local), don’t forget to order your native Hawaiian Christmas tree ! It’s a wonderful way to help the native ecosystem by planting your native Hawaiian tree of Koa or Ohia after the holidays!

Retail Therapy

a necklace on a table

Uh oh, still have some Maui holiday shopping to do? Or perhaps you’re feeling a bit stressed because you forgot to pack your favorite outfit or swimsuit and need some retail therapy to calm your psyche? Either way, it’s the perfect time of year to check out the many markets and events, you could probably pick up a sweet Maui ornament for your tree back home!

The Shops at Wailea is a wonderful place for some unique high end shopping and this year they have several holiday events including Polynesian and hula shows, weekly jazz performances, lei making, palm frond weaving and ukulele lessons! It’s also a great place to enjoy lunch or diner after doing done holiday shopping…

Go up-country the first Saturday of December to see the Annual Holiday Faire at the Haleakala Waldorf School which will have over 75 of Maui’s top artists on hand.

Hui Nui No’Eau Holidays: First Night Celebration

a cow grazing on grass in front of a house

And, let us not forget the smaller, artsy local retail shops like Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center for Christmas shopping. Selling local art and creative gifts of the highest quality is what they’re known for and supporting local businesses keeps Maui’s amazing artists creating!

On November 30th 2019 at the historic Kaluanui Estate, the First Night will include fabulous art installations. Festive drinks, food and music will put you in the holiday spirit!  An exciting selection of items from local artists and vendors will be offered and as well and available throughout the holiday season.

a close up of a bird feeder

And then there is the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center’s long list of special holiday performances and events, not to mention some great shopping. It’s an impressive lineup of local talent, great shops and good food not to be missed, especially during the holidays!

If you’re a collector of holiday ornaments there are plenty to choose from in the mall shops and gift stores throughout the island. Long’s Drug stores are a good place to start. Another option for unique Hawaiian style ornament is commemorative Hawaii National Parks ornaments that can be ordered online HERE

“Keiki” Christmas For Kids 🙂

Maui Ocean Center is all decked out for FISH-mas!  It’s Scuba Claus and his Elves will be at the Center making the holiday bright. So many events are on the calendar there’s not enough room to write it all – see monk seals, turtles, sharks, whales, or talk story, take hula lessons and so much more… check it out!

a close up of a boy

Whalers Village has strolling carolers singing in Restaurants & Shops, not to mention arts & crafts, hula dancing, lei making classes… there’s simply too much to list!

Gee, it must be Christmas because here comes Santa Claus… but will it be by outrigger canoe, jet ski, boat or sleigh? (He arrives on Maui each year in a variety of ways.) Check out when, where and how he’ll be visiting Maui in 2015 so you don’t miss seeing Old Saint Nick!

See Santa on Maui at:

Polo Beach

  • December 24th at Noon, Santa is scheduled to arrive by outrigger canoe.  Along with elves and Mrs. Claus, they will be available for pictures until 2pm.

Ka’anapali Beach

  • December 16th at 4pm check out Santa and his trusty reindeer paddle an outrigger canoe onto the beach riding a wave.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to listen to Christmas wishes while giving out goodies.  Elves will be working in the cookie workshop nearby.

Grand Wailea

  • December 24th from 9 to 11 am on Wailea Beach and Chapel Lawn Santa arrives on Wailea Beach in front of Grand Wailea.

Cultural Events

a group of people posing for a picture

Hawaiian culture is a big part of the Maui experience. Fortunately there is an amazing lineup of fantastic events that are sure to please everyone. It’s surprising how making a little time to get out and experience the real Maui can make all the difference when on vacation. Connecting with the locals gives a whole new perspective to the island and its people. Come learn, share and explore.

Some holiday shows include:

Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K Ho’onanea Holiday Concert – Dec 15th

Maui Arts and Cultural Center – Castle Theater

Two of Maui’s long celebrated Hawaiian music entertainers, Amy Hanaiali’i and Willie K, ramp up the holiday season at the MACC’s Castle Theater this year. Amy’s voice has garnered her 5 Grammy nominations multiple albums. Willie K’s version of “O Holy Night” is legendary and recently sang his stunning version of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Aloha Stadium brought him into the international spotlight when a video of the performance went viral with over 2 million views! Preshow festivities start at 5:30 pm, with local craft vendors and live music in the courtyard. Tickets are $35, $45, $55 and $65 plus applicable fees.

Elf – The Musical

Iao Theater – Wailuku

This beloved film adaptation is sure to be a hit with the family! This historic theater in Wailuku has a big local following and the mainstreet area has wonderful restaurants and shops for a fun night on the town after the show!

Markets & Parties

Whether living local or just visiting, take part in Maui Friday Town Parties! They are special cultural events held each Friday in either Wailuku, Makawao, Lahaina or Kihei (check schedule to see locations, times and dates). Special sales and promotions are offered by participating local businesses as they celebrate Maui’s amazing artists and musicians celebrating these Maui communities and the Hawaiian culture. All ages welcome!

a group of people standing in front of a crowd

The Swap Meet in Kahului is both a favorite of the locals and guests alike. Its a great spot for bargains and unusual gifts. Need some unique stocking stuffers? Then this is the place, because you can find something for everyone -and at a great price.

Things To Do On Christmas Day

Christmas Beach Luau

a woman wearing a costume

Hawaiian luau is usually found at the top of most people’s bucket lists. It’s definitely one of the most popular things to do in Maui year round, but during Christmas something special happens… “Kanakaloka” (Mr. Claus in Hawaiian), arrives – usually paddling a red canoe and wearing shorts, (it’s too hot for a full suit). Hawaiʻi’s Santa is a fantastic embodiment of the “aloha” spirit and a real treat for “keiki” (children) of all ages. There are many wonderful Christmas luaus happening around the island this time of year, so check the area you’re staying in to find the one closest to you.

Resort & Restaurant Dining

a car parked on a city street at night

Maui is loaded with amazing restaurants, both inside the resorts along and all over the island. And, for a more traditional Hawaiian feel check out Kaanapali Beach Hotel’s special Christmas Buffet!

a sandy beach next to a body of water

Some of the best dining experiences in Maui are a little off the beaten path but are worth the extra effort. Take Mama’s Fish House along the Hana Highway on Maui’s north shore, for instance. It’s absolutely amazing and well worth the drive. Haliimaile General Store is another fabulous and pretty affordable gourmet restaurant located upcountry near the town of Pukalani and Makawao. It is the signature restaurant of renowned chef Bev Gannon.  Both are amazing places to spend a great holiday meal at.

a large ship in a body of water

Whale watching is an absolutely amazing experience that happens throughout the winter months. Imagine being out on the ocean with some of the largest creatures on the planet – humpback whales. It can be life changing.  The first time seeing animals that are often bigger than the boat you’re in is a truly special moment. Surprisingly, these whales are very large and yet still incredibly nimble in the water.

a whale swimming in a body of water

Yes, it’s true, all boats and water vehicles are required to stay 100 yards from these whales (which means they stop all engines and quietly float at that distance), but because these animals are very curious these gentle giants tend to come over for an up close inspection, or a “mugging”. It’s is an amazing chance to see some incredible whale behavior as they swim under and around the boat.

Learning about these behaviors from an on-board Naturalist is a benefit you won’t have when watching them from shore.  A breaching whale can be seen from miles away but everyone on the whale watching tour gets to see them “spy hop” or slowly raise their heads straight up into the air until their eyes are above the waterline. Their giant eyes resemble a blue human eye, only they are as big as a basketball! It’s what locals call a “chicken skin” moment (aka: goose bumps) because these amazing creatures have a tendency to evoke a spiritual connection that lasts a lifetime when they look you straight in the eye.

Spa Treatments

a room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a table

Perhaps your significant other needs a little help in the present department? Maybe they’re wondering about what to get you while on Maui? Well, how about a day at one of the top 10 spas in the world?  The Grand Wailea is known for it’s amazing “Spa Grande” spa treatments which include a pampering even you may not have been unable to dream up… not until now that is! How about the Treme’ Hydrotherapy Circuit which includes multiple soaking tubs culminating in 5 different Hawaiian salt baths and is finished with a full body honey mango loofah exfoliating! Paradise. Go ahead…you deserve it!

This resort also has plenty of holiday events for before or after your spa treatment.  On December 2nd the Grand Wailea will light up the courtyard entrance trees with 8 miles of lights! This stunningly beautiful resort is hosting activities like breakfast with Santa, drive in movies, holiday parties, a gingerbread village and on Christmas Eve Santa arrives by Hawaiian canoe!

Or Take A Day Tour

a body of water with a mountain in the background

Better yet, why not give the gift of waterfalls, anchialine pools, black sand beaches, a dip in the natural pools at Oheo and a wine tasting in upcountry? VIE’s Road to Hana Tour is a wonderful sampling of the Road to Hana and beyond in just a day.

a group of people on a beach

If you’re fortunate enough to be visiting Maui over the holidays we hope this information is helpful. Of course, in Maui, how could you go wrong?  Even just a beautiful Christmas sunset at one of our many world class beaches is an unforgettable holiday memory you’ll cherish for years to come!

Aloha Nui Loa

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