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Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

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Discover the best experiences for families if you’re planning to spend the holidays in Hawaii. It’s a whole new unique Christmas experience!

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This post about the Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung. It may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost. All opinions remain my own.


Have you ever built a snowman out of sand, or watched a New Year’s Eve fireworks show from the beach?

Spending the holidays in Hawaii is a one-of-a-kind experience! I’ve spent many holiday seasons in Hawaii. I love the island-style twist for Christmas in the tropics.

I know some people who would prefer warm winter destinations over days of snow.  That’s why Hawaii is one of the top holiday destinations for those who like some winter sun.

Just like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day is one of the national holidays and legal holidays that the state of Hawaii observes. Like most states, Hawaii knows how to bring in the festive spirit sans the cold and snow. But this doesn’t mean it’s less fun to be there during the holidays!

Here are my top picks for the most popular Hawaiian islands and the different Christmas activities you and your family can enjoy!

May contain affiliate links.



The holidays on Oahu kick off December 2 with the opening night of Honolulu City Lights. There’s a huge parade, block party, tree-lighting ceremony, food booths, children’s rides, a holiday concert, and Santa.

However, the festivities don’t stop there.

Honolulu City Lights is a must-see holiday event on Oahu

Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

Be sure to experience the City Department Tree Exhibition at the Honolulu Hale from December 3 – 29 and the Annual Wreath Exhibit around the same period.

You can also expect a lot of holiday food from various local vendors.

If you can’t visit during one of their special event days, hop on board an open-air trolley for a breezy and unobstructed tour of the festive light display.


The Christmas at the Hukilau Marketplace holiday event is something to watch out for. Visit them between December 15-22 to enjoy a night filled with fun and festivity.

With train rides for kids, Santa Claus selfies and 12 tons of real SNOW, it’s a holiday event for your entire family!

Plus, there will be food trucks, a Christmas scavenger hunt, a live nativity presentation, Christmas carolling, Hawaiian music and lots of shops.


Bring the kids to Waikiki Beach to greet Santa as he arrives by canoe on Saturday, December 9.

Then, head over to the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort to take a free photo with Santa in the lobby.

I mean, how often will you see Santa on Waikiki Beach? And while you’re in Waikiki, stop by the Sheraton Princess Ka`iulani for their annual Gingerbread Village.


Rock-a-Hula has a different celebration this year. Instead of Christmas, they have a special luau as you welcome New Year’s Day.

Dance to the music featuring local artists, and feast on the island’s best food as you wait for the countdown. Be sure to stay until the fireworks light up the sky because it’s surely a magical moment to witness with your family.


Do you like scoring amazing deals on name-brand items?

Celebrate a Japanese New Year’s Day tradition by purchasing a happy grab bag filled with merchandise worth double the sales price. It’s a complete mystery, which is half the fun!

On New Year’s Day, head to Ala Moana Center for their annual Fukubukuro event. You can check out more details about the event here.

I participated a few years ago and got some incredible items from Neiman Marcus.

[irp posts=”7338″ name=”How To Choose The Best Oahu Luau”]



When Santa arrives in Hawaii on Christmas Eve, he trades in his sleigh for a canoe! Head to Wailea Beach at 9 am to see Santa arrive by Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe!

Then, meet Santa and take pictures on the Chapel Lawn.

You can take your own picture or enjoy professional pictures by Pacific Dream Photography, which is available for a low cost. The event itself is complimentary and open to the public.

Santa arriving on Maui for Christmas

Santa arriving in Hawaii.

Want to see another Santa on Christmas Eve? You’re in luck! At Noon, head to Polo Beach and watch Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and a few of their elves arrive on Polo Beach by outrigger canoe to spread holiday cheer to South Maui!

Santa will be available for photos following his arrival at the Fairmont Kea Lani. He is there every Wednesday and Saturday until December 20 and Thursday, December 21, from 4 to 7 PM.


It’s all merry and bright at the Maui Ocean Center for this year’s Dashing Through the Sea, featuring student-made holiday-themed decorations.

They leveled up on the photo opportunities here because they have not only Santa Claus but also The Grinch! It’s going to be a fun photo if your kids can do both.

You can also witness the Seabury Hall Contemporary Music Ensemble and Maunalei Music Ensemble singing Christmas carols at the ʻAʻaliʻikūhonua Creative Arts Center.

[irp posts=”8062″ name=”Complete Guide to Maui with Kids”]



One of the most popular holiday events on Kauai is the Festival of Lights. It was started 20 years ago by Auntie Josie and features elaborate “trash to treasure” displays.

Kauai's Festival of Lights is a Hawaiian Christmas tradition

Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

The grounds are lit up every night through the New Year. However, there’s so much more! On the weekends, head inside the Historic County Building to see Auntie Josie’s elaborate decorations and check out what Kauai’s artisans have created.

While you’re there, snap a selfie with Santa and Mrs. Claus. It runs every Friday from December 1 through December 22. And the best part: It’s FREE!


Celebrate the holidays Kauai Style at the Annual Holiday Fair by the Kauai County Farm Bureau starting on December 4 to 18.

This event features Kauai-made and Kauai-grown products. It’s a great opportunity to find coffee, honey, cheeses, jams, pies, spices, dressings and more!

There are also carefully crafted Kauai-made gifts like jewelry, ornaments, leis, and home décor. This is a great spot to pick up holiday gifts to bring home to friends and family.

And while you’re there, enjoy delicious local foods and treats while you shop!


If you’d like to see some traditional hula with a holiday twist, come to Kauai’s annual Holiday Hula Christmas Celebration.

It’s Saturday, December 10, 2023, from 3 pm-8 pm. It’s an evening of music and hula with more than 100 dancers and musicians.

The event features chants and songs that honor Hawaiian royalty, places, nature, and holiday tunes!


You’ll never see a corner in Kauai without the festive Christmas lights. In fact, there are two lights parades in the area that are enjoyable for the whole family.

Witness the unique Lights on Rice Christmas Lights Parade on December 1, 5:30 PM. Everybody lines up Rice Street to see all 60 float entries and 3,000 performers. The entire street is also decorated with Christmas lights, making it more magical!

If you missed that, there’s still the Waimea Lights Parade on December 23. This parade, with displays and floats that marry the tropical setting of Kauai with the holiday spirit, starts at 6:15 PM and ends at Hofgaard Park for a Christmas concert.


This family-friendly Kauai Fireworks Event includes food trucks, food booths, kid activities, a movie showing at the beach park, and fireworks.

Fireworks will begin at 8:15 p.m. The holiday festivities will run from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

Head to Poipu Beach Park with your family and say “Hau`oli Makahiki Hou” to 2024 (Hawaiian for Happy New Year!).

[irp posts=”1715″ name=”Kauai with Kids: the Best Baby Friendly Activities and Experiences”]



Pack your festive workout gear! The Big Island’s largest and most anticipated 5k run/walk event is December 17. The Jingle Bell Beach Run starts at 7:30 am at the Coconut Grove Marketplace.

This holiday-themed fun run is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!

Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

Jingle Bell Beach Run


Who says the hula can’t be jolly and merry? Fairmont Orchid has a special event called A Very Merry Holiday Hula on December 15 at 5:30 PM.

There will be traditional live Hawaiian music and hālau hula (hula school) performances before they light up the resort’s tropical winter wonderland. Of course, it’s not Christmas without the hot cocoa, so they’ll be serving this during the event.

Guests can also walk through and enjoy their pastry team’s award-winning life-sized chocolate gingerbread hale (hut). Expect a unique (but still very merry!) Christmas celebration on the island!


On December 9, experience the Waikoloa Village Christmas Parade featuring The Snow King or Queen and several other dignitaries, local businesses, and cars.

The Parade begins at 10 AM at the Skate Park on Paniolo Road and proceeds to the Waikoloa School intersection.

After the parade, stay for the Keiki Fest. There will be free food and games for kids and vendors for adults. Kids who attend this event may enter a drawing for a bicycle and other prizes.


For those looking for a really special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, look no further than Mokuaikaua Church on Ali`i Dr. in Kailua-Kona.

This is Hawaii’s first Christian church and is almost 200 years old. You and your family can join the caroling at 7 pm and then celebrate Christ’s birth inside at 8 pm.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Spending the holidays in Hawaii is a great alternative to a White Christmas!

With warm weather, golden beaches and relaxing ocean waves, Hawaii is a great place to connect with family and friends.

And be sure to turn on the radio in your car to hear more Hawaiian-style Christmas songs than you ever knew existed!

For more holiday travel inspiration, visit Alamo Rent A Car’s Scenic Route – it’s full of travel stories, videos, guides, and more! Alamo’s website is designed to inspire travellers to make the most of their vacations.

Loving these things to do for the Holidays in Hawaii? Click here now for more Hawaii features, like planning a trip to Hawaii, how you can stay healthy when traveling during the holidays, and finding out if you need Hawaii travel insurance!

More Fun Things to Do in Hawaii

Family Guide to Oahu with Kids
Oahu Travel Hacks + Budget Tips for Families
Kid-Friendly Guide to the Best Kauai Beaches, Hotels, Activities + More!
How to Choose the Best Luau in Maui

Best Experiences for Families Celebrating the Holidays in Hawaii

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    Agness of eTramping

    Tuesday 26th of December 2017

    Hawaii seems like the perfect place to spend Christmas at, Marcie. You must have had a great time there! Excellent ideas and tips which I definitely need to consider! :)


    Tuesday 2nd of January 2018

    It's definitely a unique place to spend Xmas!


    Wednesday 20th of December 2017

    that sounds like so much fun! We'll be in Mexico for Christmas this year and I'm hoping for similar beachy activities!


    Monday 25th of December 2017

    Oh that sounds like a fun time!

    Justine @ Little Dove

    Tuesday 19th of December 2017

    I have been to Oahu several times but never at Christmas, it sounds like so much fun!


    Monday 25th of December 2017

    We went a few years ago and it so much more festive than I imagined!


    Wednesday 20th of December 2017

    It's such a festive place! Plus, you can surf on Christmas morning!

    Kiarna Jayne

    Tuesday 19th of December 2017

    Wow I never knew there would be soo much to do!! This is great and visiting Hawaii is definitely something i'd love to do over Christmas, may need to add this to my list of places to visit!


    Monday 25th of December 2017

    Yes, add it to your travel bucket list!


    Wednesday 20th of December 2017

    So many fun things things to keep you in the Mele Kalikimaka spirit!

    Jordan | Read. Eat. Repeat.

    Tuesday 19th of December 2017

    This is so cool! Celebrating Christmas in Hawaii has never crossed my mind, but now I want to ha ha


    Monday 25th of December 2017

    It's so nice to not have to bundle up to go outside and play on Christmas!

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