As you’re making your Christmas vacation plans, I wanted to give you some fun and meaningful ideas to celebrate the season with Maui-style. Here are my suggestions for the top things to do for Maui Christmas 2013:
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.
2. Ice skate by the ocean
Yes, you read that right – there will be an ice skating rink in Kaanapali at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas. The rink is not actually covered in ice. A synthetic polymer is topped with a lubricant to act and feel like real ice, but you won’t be shivering as you skate in the tropical warmth of Maui. The rink is open Monday to Friday from 4pm to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 1pm to 9pm. Rental rates start at $15. See more details from this link.
3. Celebrate the twelve days of FISH-mas at the Maui Ocean Center
From December 14 – 25, Scuba Claus and Elf host interactive underwater presentations at 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. Of course Lahaina has lots of shops. We also like Whalers Village in Kaanapali and the Shops at Wailea in Wailea. For unique Maui shopping experiences, check out the shops in Paia or head upcountry to Makawao.
5. 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 a comprehensive listing of church services across Maui. In the meantime, here’s what’s caught our eye so for Christmas Eve services:
- Hope Chapel in Kihei offers three Christmas Eve services at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm. The 6pm and 8pm service will be the candlelight services.
- Lahaina Baptist Church in Lahaina will hold their Christmas Eve service at 7pm.
- Christmas Eve Service will be held at Hale Hema on the grounds of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel on Kaanapali Beach, which is just north of Lahaina. The service starts at 9:30pm and will include special worship performances in song and hula. For more information, see this link.
- Wailea Seaside Chapel on the grounds of the Grand Wailea resort in Wailea will hold Christmas Eve service at 10pm. They’ll also hold a Christmas Day service at 10am.
- We hope to list more services.
6. Catch a free Christmas show at Whaler’s Village
This shopping center located in the heart of Kaanapali is offering a number of free holiday performances including strolling carolers, Mele Kalikimaka shows and more. See this link for more information.
7. 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 22nd, Santa and his helpers arrive via outrigger canoe at Kaanapali Beach at about 4:15pm. Hula Grill hosts this event including free cookie decorating and ornament making for the keiki (children). See this link for more information.
- On Christmas Eve at about 10am, Santa makes a pit stop in South Maui at the Makena Beach & Golf Resort. A few years ago, he arrived on the beach by outrigger canoe. In 2011, he came by jet ski and last year by jet boat. How will Santa arrive this year? You’ll have to go to see for yourself. This year guests are advised to gather at the resort’s Pu’u Olai Garden Lawn before 10am for Santa’s grand entrance. 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.
8. 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 in Lahaina and the Plantation House in Kapalau. 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.
Again, I 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.
I 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 to see Maui New Year’s fireworks.