Mele Kalikimaka! Celebrate Christmas in Hawaii

Snow-covered Mauna Kea

Big Island life is always pleasant, but the joy and anticipation of the holiday season add a special kind of electricity to the air. Postcard-perfect weather and the relaxed island lifestyle make Hawaii an ideal place to escape Christmas chaos for a holiday getaway. Before your visit, learn about Christmas customs and celebrations.    

Centuries of Celebration

Hawaiians have celebrated in November and December since long before Protestant missionaries brought their holiday rituals to the islands. Natives celebrated the bounty of the land and made offerings to ensure a prosperous new year during Makahiki, a four-month festival. Captain George Dixon is said to have hosted the first Christmas celebration in 1786 when his merchant marine ship, the Queen Charlotte, was docked at Kauai. King Kamehameha IV declared December 25 a day of thanksgiving in 1856, and Santa Claus visited the children of Hawaii for the first time two years later. Christmas became an official holiday in Hawaii in 1862. 

Strings of Christmas lights decorate palm trees

Aloha, Santa

Today's Christmas celebrations add a dash of Hawaiian style to the typical American observance. Santa sheds the fur-lined red velvet suit for a more island-appropriate aloha shirt, and he swaps the reindeer and sleigh for a canoe pulled by dolphins. Poinsettias grow wild in Hawaii, and their bright red leaves herald the holiday's arrival. Roast pork, poke and poi are on the menu when families gather for Christmas dinner. And no holiday playlist is complete without "Mele Kalikimaka."

Snowy Mauna Kea summit

White Christmas

Tropical temperatures don't take the holidays off, but you can still experience a white Christmas in Hawaii. Take a tour in a 4x4 and journey 14,000 feet to the snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea. At the state's highest point, you'll find a gorgeous view and your best chance of experiencing a winter wonderland during your Hawaii holiday.

Ballerina dances in holiday performance

Family Fun

Watch sugarplum fairies and snowflakes glide across the Kalihu Theatre stage. Ballet troupes from Maui, North Carolina, Matsuyama, Bolshoi and beyond travel to Kamuela to join 70 local dancers in The West Hawaii Dance Theatre and Academy's performance of The Nutcracker. The Kamuela Philharmonic performs the music of Tchaikovsky's Christmas classic. The festive production's captivating visuals make the three-day run a popular family activity for locals and visitors. Find more information and buy tickets here.

Turkey carving

At the Resort

Join us at Hilton Waikoloa Village for our annual Christmas dinner in the Grand Ballroom. Enjoy live entertainment as you sip a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. The buffet-style feast starts with fresh island poke, sushi, an assortment of cheeses, salads, and other appetizers. Visit the seafood bar for chilled shrimp, snow crab, and New Zealand mussels. Then, stop by the carving station for turkey and trimmings, honey glazed ham, and slow-cooked prime rib. If you're still hungry, select from main courses including bacon-wrapped pork loin, macadamia-crusted mahi mahi, and slow-roasted chicken. Finish with a slice of yule log, some banana bread pudding, chocolate-covered treats, fresh-baked cookies and a hot cup of gourmet coffee. Reserve your seats and prepare for an epic feast!