Christmas in Hawaii

Updated October, 2014. 

Christmastime in Hawaii is more affordable than many think, and it's a wonderful time to see any of the islands. Over the last two or three holiday seasons, I’ve seen round-trip fares as low as $350 flights in December from the West Coast. One such special ran just a short time in December of 2013 offering New York – Hawaii round-trip for $340. And this was on a nonstop flight.  

While these don’t always put you in Hawaii for Christmas Day, you would be here to enjoy many of the Christmas festivities. I’ve also seen low fares for this time of year at Expedia, Orbitz and Hotwire.

Christmas time in Hawaii is among my favorite remembrances of living on Oahu and the Big Island (island of Hawaii). I loved going to the kids' school Christmas concerts (as on the mainland too) but here they sing songs like "Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe," and the Hawaiian version of "The 12 Days of Christmas." Good fun! 

Outdoor concerts in Honolulu on Oahu at Christmas are amazing.  Hearing "Silent Night" sung in English and Hawaiian by a choir on a balmy evening under the stars with palm trees swaying was nothing short of magical. The hula dance for this song is quite beautiful and performed in schools, churches, at the free beach shows ...

The city goes all out with their Honolulu City Lights display and they have special trolley rides that take you around so you don't miss any of the festive displays. At the interisland terminal, the Honolulu Airport's towering Chriistmas tree was is decorated and lit each year -- one year with golden lights that highlighted the lauhala woven pineapples. Wow! 

Holidays in Hawaii, especially Christmas are widely celebrated.  Even many of the Buddhist families participate in Christmas traditions, especially the Japanese-Americans, who come from long standing traditions of gift giving. If you're visiting the islands for the holidays, you will find a myriad of Christmas events on Oahu, actually on all the islands, but more so on Oahu.

Hawaiian Santa

In Hawaii, Santa gives his reindeer a Christmas break and arrives in a canoe, barefoot, tanned and with his red furry pants rolled up. On Oahu, his first stop is, as it is for most of Hawaii's visitors, Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Some of my favorite Oahu Christmas events : the Honolulu Lights holiday trolley rides and  the music – choirs, orchestras and local style bands - are found everywhere with free concerts at malls and on the beach. Adding to the holiday fun, many of Hawaii's most popular musicians like the Brothers Cazimero perform regularly in Waikiki.


One thing that I kinda didn't like at Christmas time in Hawaii where we lived (a rural area - Puna, Big Island)  was that some of the families shoot off fireworks and firecrackers off and on througout December. It's hard on the pets. Fireworks are a big deal here at New Year's, but they go on sale in the stores around  December 1. I didn't notice early ones much in the city but out in the boonies it's harder to enforce those kind of laws. Firecrackers are legal with a permit and some buy them in rolls of 1,000 and more. New Year's Eve is quite loud - and smoky. 

The food!

Back to Christmas. The foods - yum. Many of the churches have Christmas luau with the traditional kahlua pig, poi, fish, yams and coconut puddings. Local families usually have turkey or something special for their Christmas dinners (just like on the mainland). Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and all that is popular. 

Our First Hawaiian Christmas Tree

The trees are pretty traditional too. Douglas Firs and other Christmas trees are shipped over and sold in parking lots at supermarkets and other stores. We also have the Norfolk Pine trees here, which are easy to decorate with the huge spaces between their branches. We got one of these our first year and hung tinsel on it, not thinking about the tradewinds and windows open in Decemeber. The kids wove coconut ornaments at a free workshop at the beach, so we did have some really cute decorations left after the tinsel mess was cleaned up.  

Da Beach! 

Another thing I loved about Christmas in Hawaii - enjoying a sunny beach with family and friends in the dead of winter :-) 

Christmas in Hawaii on a Shoestring Budget without Sacrificing Fun or Comfort: 

"Hawaii Eco-Travel on a Budget" ebook guides:  

Oahu (Honolulu and Waikiki island)

Maui (Whale central, Hana Coast, Haleakala)

Hawaii Island (the Big Island, Active Volcanoes)

Kauai (the Garden Isle)
Hale (Home)

Island Overviews
Hawaii (Big Island)  

Hawaii Nei (Island-Wide)

Hawaii Budget Travel eBooks
Hawaiian Lei, Plants, Gardens  
Animals of Hawaii  
Hawaiian Music & Hula 
Hawaiian Language  

Hawaii Santa
Honolulu Christmas Lights. Soundtrack: Yes, that's Keali'i Reichel! He's singing "Ke Aloha Kealikimaka" 
More Hawaiian Holiday Resources

Holidays Hawaiian Style

Top 10 Hawaiian Christmas Things to do 

Official Hawaii Events Calendar (includes holiday parades and festivals)

Plan a Hawaiian Christmas Vacation for this year or 2010. Purchase one of my Hawaii budget vacation guides before Christmas and get the Kauai guide free!
Plan a Hawaiian Christmas Vacation
Hawaii Eco Travel Magazine
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Honolulu Christmas. Image courtesy of Hawaiian Tourism Authority.