Planning to spend this Christmas holiday on Maui? You’ll find the island decked out in lights, ornaments and Christmas cheer. Maui really knows how to celebrate the holidays with warmth and Aloha.
As you’re making your Christmas vacation plans, we want to give you some fun and meaningful ideas to celebrate the holiday season with Maui-style. Here are our suggestions for the top things to do for Maui Christmas 2015:
1. See Lahaina’s famous banyan tree wrapped in Christmas lights
The sprawling banyan tree will be wrapped in thousands of Christmas lights. Where else but in Maui will you find such a sight as this one? The banyan tree is located off Front Street in Lahaina town. For parking near the banyan tree, we recommend the free parking lot off of Prison Street.
2. Celebrate FISH-mas at the Maui Ocean Center
From December 14 – 24, Scuba Claus and Elf host interactive underwater presentations at the Open Ocean exhibit of the Maui Ocean Center. (See our Maui Ocean Center review.) They’ll wear special dive masks that allow them to speak to the audience. Scuba Claus presents at 11am, while Elf makes his appearance at 3pm. This presentation is included with the paid aquarium admission. After you’ve had a walk around the ocean center, perhaps you’d like to enjoy a cookie and cup of eggnog while you look for humpback whales from the restaurant terrace. For more information see this link.
Christmastime is a special time to shop in Maui. Consider buying locally made crafts and artwork for gifts. Where are great places to shop on Maui? Lahaina has lots of shops. We also like Whalers Village in Kaanapali and the Shops at Wailea in Wailea. For other unique Maui shopping experiences, check out the shops in Paia or head upcountry to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao.
4. Attend a Christmas Eve Church Service
When you arrive on Maui, pick up a copy of the Maui News as Christmas Eve approaches. They’ll have more information about church services across Maui. In the meantime, here’s what’s caught our eye so for Christmas Eve services:
- Kaanapali Beach Hotel hosts a non-denominational Christian Christmas Eve service on their grounds at the Hale Hema at 9:30pm.
- Kumulani Chapel in Kapalua will hold three Christmas Eve candlelight services at 5pm, 7pm and 11pm. See this link for more information.
- Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina is holding candlelight Christmas Eve masses at 6pm and midnight. Caroling is scheduled for 11:30pm.
- Hope Chapel in Kihei offers three Christmas Eve services at 4pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm. The 8pm and 10pm services will be candlelight services.
- Ask your concierge and/or check the Maui News for more Christmas Eve and Day services.
5. Catch a free Christmas show at Whaler’s Village
This shopping center located in the heart of Kaanapali is offering a number of strolling caroler performances. See this link for more information.
6. See Santa Claus’s grand arrival
Santa will be making a few quick visits to Maui before heading back to the North Pole to load up his sleigh. The following venues are hosting Santa’s arrival. (As a way to say mahalo to these businesses, we suggest purchasing a meal, drink, etc. during your visit.)
- On December 20th, Santa and his elves arrive via outrigger canoe at Kaanapali Beach on Sunday afternoon. Hula Grill hosts this event including free cookie decorating and ornament making for the keiki (children) starting at 3:30pm. See this link for more information.
- On Christmas Eve at about 9:45am, Santa makes a pit stop in South Maui at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort. Santa has visited this resort in a variety of ways — by outrigger canoe, by jet ski, by jet boat and by sleigh. It will be exciting to see how Santa will arrive this year! This event is free and open to the public. For more information about this and other holiday events at Makena Beach & Golf Resort, see this link.
- On Christmas Eve, Santa makes a grand appearance via outrigger canoe at noon on Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani.
7. Enjoy a Christmas feast
Many resorts across Maui will offer scrumptious multi-course dinners and/or buffets with menus specially designed for the holidays. Some of our favorite Maui restaurants that will be open on Christmas are Nick’s Fishmarket and MALA in Wailea; Mala Ocean Tavern, Pacific’O in Lahaina and the Plantation House and Pineapple Grill in Kapalua. Most hotel-based restaurants will be open. Check directly with your hotel for details. One quick source to check for restaurant availability online is via OpenTable, though it’s not a comprehensive listing. I recommend you make reservations as soon as possible.
We recommend you speak to your hotel’s concierge for more options that will be held onsite or nearby your accommodation. Also, pick up a copy of the Maui News when you are on island for additional restaurants and holiday activity suggestions.
We hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmastime on Maui. While you’re there, make sure you know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas in the Hawaiian language.
If you’ll be staying on Maui through New Year’s Eve, check out our guide for where see Maui New Year’s fireworks.