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 2018:
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. The opening night and lighting ceremony is December 1, 2018, but the tree will be lit nightly throughout the holiday season.
Christmastime is a special time to shop in Maui. Consider buying locally made crafts and artwork for gifts. Where are unique places to shop on Maui? Lahaina’s Front Street and side streets have lots of shops. We also like Whalers Village in Kaanapali and the Shops at Wailea in Wailea. For other Maui shopping experiences, check out the shops in Paia or head to cooler environs upcountry to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao where you can browse through unique shops and visit the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. If you’re looking for the big box stores, you can find them in Kahului.
Special Christmas Entertainment and Events on Maui
- The Shops at Wailea will host visits from Santa (see this calendar for specific days/times) and special holiday musical entertainment as follows:
- The Festival of the Harps on December 8, 9, 16 and 22 from 5:30 to 7:00pm
- Bonnie Newman leads sing-along caroling, “Joyful Hearts”, on Sunday, December 23 at 5:30 to 7:00pm
- At Whalers Village shoppers are invited to take a selfie with Santa on the beach between 4pm and 8pm on December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24.
- On December 9, 16 and 23, the Maui Sunday Market at Kahului Shopping Center plans a jolly holiday time with Santa’s workshop for children’s crafts, food trucks, live entertainment and local gifts. See this link for more information.
3. 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 on Monday, December 24th:
- Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina is holding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day mass.
- Sacred Hearts Catholic Church in Kapalua is holding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day mass.
- Hope Chapel in Kihei welcomes visitors for Christmas Eve services at 3pm, 5:30pm and 8pm.
- Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena (South Maui) holds an outdoor Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:30pm. In addition to the service, they present two outdoor floral Christmas trees and visitors are invited to bring a flower or lei to decorate the tree.
- Kumulani Chapel in Kapalua holds two candlelight Christmas Eve services at 5pm and 7pm.
- Ask your concierge and/or check the Maui News for more Christmas Eve and religious services.
4. See Santa Claus as he visits Maui
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 Christmas Eve, Santa arrives by outrigger canoe around 9am at Wailea Beach in front of the Grand Wailea. He will then be available for photos on the Chapel Lawn. This event is free and open to the public.
- On Christmas Eve, Santa and Mrs. Claus make a grand appearance via outrigger canoe at noon on Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani. See this link for more information. This event is free and open to the public.
5. Enjoy a Christmas feast
Many resorts across Maui will offer scrumptious multi-course dinners and/or buffets with menus specially designed for the holidays. Most hotel-based restaurants will be open. Check directly with your hotel for details. One quick source to search for restaurant availability online is via OpenTable. (Make sure you customize the search criteria.) I recommend you make reservations as soon as possible.
6. Take a train ride on the Holiday Express
Maui’s Sugar Cane Train becomes the Holiday Express for a festive ride that kids will love. See this link for more information. Enjoy Christmas lights, milk and cookies, caroling and a visit from Santa. See this link for more information and tickets.
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 Maui New Year’s celebrations.