Christmas is such a special time to visit Maui! You’ll find the island decked out in lights, ornaments and Christmas cheer. Maui really knows how to celebrate the holidays with warm Aloha. As you’re making your Christmas vacation plans, we want to give you some special and meaningful ideas to celebrate the holiday season with Maui-style.
A note about Lahaina:
Before we go any further, we feel that it’s necessary to share this somber note about Lahaina. We’ve been creating these lists of special things to do for Christmas in Maui for more than a decade. One thing that’s very different for 2023 is that there are no events in Lahaina town due to the devastating fire in August. Lahaina is not open to the public at this time.
Visitors are asked to be compassionate towards Maui residents as many fire victims are displaced in temporary housing. Many across the island are also in a state of mourning. Where possible please try to support the local economy by shopping local.
Christmastime is a special time to shop in Maui. Consider buying locally made crafts and artwork for gifts.
You can find the big department stores in Kahului, but there are several shopping centers that are closer to the resort areas.
West Maui (Kaanapali, Kapalua)
- We like Whalers Village in Kaanapali.
- In year’s past, we listed several shopping spots in Lahaina. Sadly, many were destroyed in the wildfire of August 2023.
- We really enjoy the Shops at Wailea in Wailea. They host great cultural programs and musical entertainment throughout the year, but the Shops at Wailea’s events for December are extra special. Here are some highlights for this December:
- Every Wednesday in December, they’re hosting a free Mele Kalikimaka Show with free live music from 4:30pm to 6pm.
- On December 9 and 16, they’re hosting Festival of Harps accompanied by Madrigal from 5pm to 6:30pm.
- On December 22 and 29, check out Holiday Spectacles with a Touch of Island Magic from 5:30pm to 7pm.
- Check out their events calendar to find a free Polynesian show, cultural activities and visits from Santa leading up to Christmas.
Other unique Maui shops
- If you want to experience a cooler climate, go upcountry to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) town of Makawao where you can browse through unique shops — such as Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center which is decorated for the Hui Holidays.
- The former sugar cane plantation town of Paia has some small, local shops.
Attend a Christmas Church Service
Attending a Christmas service is a wonderful way to celebrate the good news of hope for this season. It’s even more special when you do so in Maui.
Here are some services that have caught our eye for 2023. We’ll list these churches that are near the resort areas. To help you find a service near your accommodations, we’ll list the churches in geographical order.
West Maui – Kapalua, Lahaina areas
- Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina survived the fire, but public access is prohibited for the time being. Their sister church, Sacred Hearts Mission Church in Kapalua typically holds mass on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
- Honolua United Methodist Church holds Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 7pm. See this link for more details. (Added 12/16)
- Harvest Kumulani Church in Kapalua holds Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6pm. See this link for more details. (Added 12/16)
- Lahaina United Methodist Church was destroyed in the August fire. They are temporally holding services at Lahuiokalani Ka’anapali Congregation Church in Honokowai. They are holding Christmas Day service starting at 10am. See this link for more information.
South Maui – Kihei, Wailea
- Hope Chapel in Kihei welcomes visitors for Christmas Candlelight services starting December 23 at 4pm and 6pm. Then they will hold three candlelight services on December 24 at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm. Check this page for more details.
- St. Theresa Roman Catholic Church in Kihei offers several Christmas Eve (5pm and 9:30pm) and Christmas Day (7am and 9:30am) services. See this link for more details.
- Calvary Chapel South Maui typically holds Christmas Eve services. TBD for 2023
- Trinity Episcopal Church by the Sea typically holds Christmas Eve services. TBD for 2023
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. Additionally, ask your concierge if they know of services that will be near to where you’re staying.
See Santa Claus as he visits Maui
Santa normally makes a few quick visits to Maui before heading back to the North Pole to load up his sleigh. Most often he’s dressed in his fun, Aloha attire.
- Santa stops by the Shops at Wailea for free photos. Guests are asked to bring a donation to benefit the Maui Food Bank. For the week leading up to Christmas, Santa will be at the Shops at Wailea on December 20 and 21 from 4 to 7pm. See this link for more information as well as this short instagram video.
- Ali’i Nui hosts their special Holiday Santa Sail on December 17, 22 and 23 this year. Learn more here.
- On the morning of December 23rd, Santa arrives by catamaran on Ka’anapali Beach at Whalers Village. See this link for more details. (Added 12/16)
- On Christmas Eve, Santa arrives by outrigger canoe at Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani at approximately 12pm. See this link for more information.
- On Christmas Eve, Santa arrives by outrigger canoe at Wailea Beach in front of the Grand Wailea between 8am and 9am. See this link for more information.
- At Montage Kapalua Bay, Mr. and Mrs. Claus stop for photos. See this link for more information.
- Santa visits the Halona Kai Holiday Village, (details are listed further down on this list)
Savor 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.
Explore the Hawaiian island-style Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations in Hawaii are really special and often convey a great sense of place. You may find tropical flowers adorning Christmas trees, tropical fish ornaments and other unique Hawaii-style decorations.
The hotels really do a fantastic job decorating for Christmas. For a nice stroll, head out on the oceanfront paths in either Kaanapali or Wailea or both. Along the way, pop into the hotels to check out their lobbies and entrances.
Some of the best resorts for seeing Christmas lights are:
- Ritz Carlton Maui at Kapalua – While you’re there, check out the Holiday Hale in the lobby for a sweet treat.
- Grand Wailea in Wailea in South Maui
- Fairmont Kea Lani in Wailea in South Maui
Enjoy special holiday activities at Halona Kai Holiday Village
The third annual Halona Kai Holiday Village at the Hyatt Regency Maui, is set to take place from December 23 through 25. This year’s family-friendly village features a dinner buffet with festive music, Christmas-themed activities, a visit from Santa Claus and holiday movies at the Snowflake Cinema. Halona Kai Holiday Village is located at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort in Kaanapali. See this link for more information and to book tickets. 2023
Kiss your loved one under the Mistletoe at Montage
For something a bit more romantic, Montage Kapalua Bay invites guests and locals to step under the mistletoe and snap a special photo. Mistletoe at Montage will be located at the resort’s entrance. If you share your photo publicly on social media with the hashtags #MontageMistletoe and #MontageMemory, your photo might be featured on the resort’s Instagram account. While you’re there check out the beautiful decorations in the hotel’s lobby or make plans for an a glass of bubbly at the Champagne Hale at Cliff House. See more information about Mistletoe at Montage as well as other special holiday options at this link.
Finally, what about the tradition of Lahaina’s famous banyan tree wrapped in thousands of lights?
Due to the tragic wildfire in August 2023, much of Lahaina was destroyed. The 150-year-old banyan tree was badly burned, but is showing some signs of life. Access to Lahaina is highly restricted and the tree will not be wrapped in thousands of lights as it has been in the past. Visitors should not attempt to go into Lahaina. We hope that as Lahaina heals, this banyan tree Christmas tradition can be continued in the future.
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.
The holiday time is a popular time to visit Maui. As such, be prepared by reading our advice — What you need to know about planning a Hawaii vacation around a holiday. If this is your first visit to Maui, check out our popular Maui vacation planner to help you make your itinerary.
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 possible Maui New Year’s celebrations.