Spending Christmas in Maui is the best way to escape the cold temperatures of winter, as flying to the Valley Isle gives off that magical feeling you're retreating to an oasis. Maui is less busy during Christmas than the summer season, though December is one of the more crowded months during the year. However, it doesn't typically feel overpopulated and offers a relaxing break from the normal pressures of the holiday season. The same activities that are available all year round are optional during the Christmas season with the added festive feel. A Maui Christmas can be relaxing and the island is always worth the trip, no matter when you decide to come.
Lahaina lights up Front Street with their Banyan Tree illuminating ceremony. This historic tree is lit up every night in December from 5:45-midnight. The Lahaina Banyan tree is not only the largest tree in Hawaii, but also the largest in the entire United States. It is the size of a city block and over 60 feet high. Walking through the tree, day or night, is a magical experience that we highly recommend. Whalers Village is another festive area to visit, right next to Kaanapali beach, where you can see holiday decorations, take hula lessons, enjoy lei making and try playing the ukulele. There's always something fun happening during the holidays.
December is the start of Maui's whale season. Whales migrate to Maui every winter from Alaska, to mate and have their babies. Spouts of water can be seen off the coast from the southern and western shores. Whales tend to stick to the waters between Maui, Lanai and Kaho'olawe, also known as the Maui Nui Basin, a protected sanctuary. You may see them while you're driving but don't get too distracted! The best way to see these massive mammals up close is by taking a tour. There is nothing more awe inspiring than seeing a whale breach a couple hundred yards from your boat. Whale watching tours are approximately two hours and take off from Ma'alea Harbor and Lahaina Harbor. The best time to take a whale watching tour is in the morning, when the water is calm. A sunset dinner tour during whale season could also be an ideal time.
Soak up the Sun
Maui in December boasts of mild temperatures in the mid seventies, perfect for water activities or laying poolside. It is definitely warm enough to swim in Maui in December. Soak up that vitamin D while you're here and boost your immune system for the rest of winter back home. With hurricane season officially over, December is a great time to enjoy snorkeling, standup paddle boarding, surfing, boogie boarding or scuba diving. You'll want to rent gear from a reputable company and ask them for recommendations on the best beaches for the activities you'll be participating in. It's always a good idea to get the surf report and go out on the water at the right time. Wind and ocean swells can make or break your plans and water safety needs to be everyone's priority.
Santa in a Canoe
See Santa row onto the beaches of Maui with a Hawaiian crew on an outrigger canoe! In Wailea, he'll be at the Fairmont Kea Lani and the Grand Wailea. On the westside, see St. Nick arrive on Ka'anapali Beach near Whaler's Village. Santa and Mrs. Claus will get out of their canoe and go to a designated location for children to get in line and share their Christmas wishes. Setting up on the beach to see Santa arrive is a fun beach morning for kids, whether they wait in line to see him or not. Check the schedule of those locations for specific days and times.
December is a busy time, so, if you plan to eat out, we recommend making dinner reservations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Reservations for fancy restaurants can normally be 3-4 months out. If your desired restaurant is booked, you may be able to get on a wait list. A Christmas Luau is a popular way to celebrate the holiday. Enjoy a hula show, fire dancing and kalua pork with your family. There are luau locations at many of the large resorts, along with stand alone shows you can attend. We recommend booking your reservation as soon as you know you will be on Maui. This is also the perfect time to get a professional family photo taken.
Take a break from the beach and drive upcountry. The Kula Botanical Gardens, Ali'i Lavender Farm and Kula Country Farms are three beautiful settings to walk around, enjoy the grounds, try local products and produce and see Maui from coast to coast. There's no better way to see the entire island than driving up Haleakala highway. There are restaurants with expansive views that boast incredible sunsets. And everyone decorates for the holiday season. Of course, driving up to the summit of Haleakala is always inspiring, but you don't have to drive that far to see Maui in all its glory. Historic Makawao town is another place to walk around and enjoy a cup of coffee while visiting local shops. Upcountry is slightly cooler by 5-10 degrees, so make sure you bring your sweatshirt.
Local Maui Theater
Maui has three independent theater companies, featuring some of the most talented and celebrated actors to grace community stages. Maui Onstage, MAPA and ProArts put on seasonal shows every year featuring our local talent. These theaters perform classic material like "The Nutcracker Suite" and original shows like "White Hawaiian," about the history of Hawaii from one of Maui's local celebrities. For anyone interested in a traditional Hawaiian music concert, The Slack Key Show, featuring Grammy award winning artist George Kahumoku Jr., is every Wednesday at the Napili Kai. Between the songs each musician shares stories of Hawaii, its history and local culture, both educational and humorous. Your support of the Maui theater community means a great deal to these talented artists and you'll come away with new appreciation for Maui and its rich history.
Experiencing Maui during Christmas is a gift to yourself and your family, a relaxing way to end the year and start fresh. Spending the holidays with Aloha is something you'll never forget. Mele Kalikimaka!