Waikiki Christmas Events & Dining 2020

waikiki christmas

If your idea of a winter wonderland includes sun, sand and gently swaying palm trees, then Waikiki Beach is the place for you!  It’s a wonderful place to experience the Christmas season with Aloha.

To help you make your holiday plans, we’re compiling our annual Waikiki Christmas list. Here you’ll find a fun list of things to do to get you into the Mele Kalikimaka spirit along with some special places to dine to celebrate the season.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has really affected businesses and activities all across Oahu. What can and can’t be open depends on the number of COVID-19 cases and positivity test rates in a tiered system. See this link for details of the Oahu tier system.

Sadly some restaurants and business have had to permanently close. Quite a few restaurants are temporarily closed while others are opening on a limited basis.

We’ve organized all the special Christmas events and dining options as follows:

  • Great holiday-related things to do and see during your Christmas visit to Oahu
  • Christmas dining in and near Waikiki and Honolulu – note that for 2020, there are far fewer options compared to normal. Due to limited capacity, we recommend you book a table as quickly as possible.
  • Christmas Eve church services

What to see and do in December for the Christmas holiday in Waikiki, Honolulu & Oahu

* Take a stroll through the many Waikiki hotel lobbies to see their Christmas decorations. See examples of Waikiki Christmas decorations from years past.

* The Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki has huge Christmas displays including a 34-ft tall Christmas tree in the Royal Grove. They will host Santa Saturdays every Saturday leading up to Christmas. On Santa Saturdays, you can take a photo with Santa and Mrs. Claus with your own camera from 4pm to 7pm. See this link for more information.

* See the Honolulu City Lights and displays in downtown Honolulu in and around the grounds of the Honolulu Hale at 530 S King Street. This annual display is free and open to the public from December 9 through 27. The displays are nice to see in the day, but we enjoy seeing the lights at night. Since downtown Honolulu isn’t walkable from Waikiki, a great way to get to downtown Honolulu is to take the open-air Waikiki Trolley. Alternatively, you can use public transportation on Oahu’s TheBus or drive your own rental car, if you have one. See this link for viewing and parking information.

* Ala Moana Center, Hawaii’s largest shopping mall, will be decorated for the season. Santa will be there for photo ops, plus there’s a special holiday-themed selfie wall. See this link for more information. 

* The Hukilau Marketplace at the  Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie (up near the North Shore) creates a special drive-in movie presentation. On either a Thursday or Friday evening leading up to Christmas, a special Christmas movie will be showing. See this link for more information.

* Waikiki Beach Walk hosts live Christmas music nightly from December 19 -25 at 6pm. See this link for more information. Added 12/16

* Football fans can catch the Hawaii Bowl on December 24th at 3pm HST. Hawaii Bowl is cancelled for 2020.

* College basketball fans can catch the hoops action of the Diamond Head Classic on December 22, 23 and 25. Diamond Head Classic is cancelled for 2020.

Waikiki/Honolulu restaurants that will be open for dinner on Christmas

In years past, we’ve listed multiple categories of special Christmas Eve and Christmas dining. Like everything else in 2020, it’s different this year. Oahu restaurants have many new restrictions to navigate on top of trying to stay open and keep their staff employed. Frankly, it’s more challenging to find restaurants that are open this year, much less finding fancy-schmancy Christmas menus. As such, we highly encourage you to book your reservations as quickly as possible.

This year, we’re listing restaurants that have indicated they will be open for Christmas dining. Some may have special holiday menus. When/if we know of those special menus, we will make mention of them. We’ll also note any special location/views restaurants have. Additionally, we encourage you check out their websites, social media and/or contact them directly for more information.

  • Deck. at the Queen Kapiolani Hotel – will host a special four-course prix-fixe Christmas menu.  This restaurant has excellent views of Diamond Head.
  • La Vie, a French restaurant, at the Waikiki Ritz-Carlton Residences will be presenting a specialty five-course Christmas menu. See this link for more information. This restaurant has ocean views.
  • 53 By the Sea, located near Kaka’ako Waterfront Park in Honolulu, has a special four-course Christmas menu. From Waikiki, you would need to get a cab or take TheBus. (See this link for map.) This restaurant is ocean front.
  • Merriman’s Honolulu at Ward Village has a special three-course prix fixe dinner. See the menu here. This restaurant is located roughly two miles from the heart of Waikiki. It’s about a 40+ minute walk just one way so, taking the bus or hoping in a cab might be a quicker option.
  • 100 Sails Restaurant at Prince Waikiki plans to be open for Christmas. They normally have a Christmas menu. This restaurant has ocean/harbor views.
  • Duke’s Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. This casual restaurant is oceanfront. This one often books up quickly, so if you’re interested, book ASAP.
  • Hula Grill Waikiki at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. This casual restaurant is oceanfront. Just like Duke’s Waikiki, this restaurant often books quickly, so if you’re interested, book ASAP.
  • TBD Hawaii has a special Christmas prix fixe menu. This restaurant is located near the foot of Diamond Head. It would be a bit of a walk from Waikiki, but with ocean views all along the way.
  • Basalt Waikiki at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach Hotel normally has a prix fixe menu.
  • Ruth Chris at Waikiki Beach Walk. This link shows the 2020 holiday menu feature across the Ruth Chris chain of restaurants.
  • Tommy Bahama Restaurant in Waikiki.
  • Hideout at the Laylow
  • Roy’s Waikiki at the Waikiki Beach Walk.
  • BLT at Trump Waikiki presents a special a la carte Christmas menu.
  • Wolfgang Steakhouse in the Royal Hawaiian Center.
Shaka Santa and Mele Tutu by the Christmas tree in front of Honolulu Hale presented as part of Honolulu City Lights
Shaka Santa and Mele Tutu by the Christmas tree in front of Honolulu Hale presented as part of Honolulu City Lights

Waikiki Christmas Eve Church Services

Finding in-person Christmas Eve worship services may be a bit more challenging this year due to COVID-19 capacity restrictions at churches. Here’s a list of Waikiki churches that have held events in the past.

* Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Mass services will be held in Waikiki at St. Augustine by-the-sea Catholic church. Capacity will be limited due to social distancing requirements. Check their schedule of services is listed on their website.

* Fort DeRussy Chapel across from Hale Koa Hotel – To be determined for 2020.

* Waikiki Baptist Church – To be determined for 2020.

* Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Waikiki – To be determined for 2020.

* For more Christmas Eve services, check with the concierge at your hotel and/or pick up a copy of the Star-Advertiser, which usually has Christmas Eve service information, when you’re on the island.

Notes

  • If you are traveling to Hawaii for Christmas, make sure you know and follow the Safe Travels Hawaii guidelines designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Be sure and note the process to pre-test in order to bypass quarantine.
  • We recommend you make reservations as soon as possible to secure the place and time you like.
  • Should you have further questions, contact the venues directly. From each link that we’ve provided in this article, you should be able to navigate to the venue’s telephone number.
  • Unless otherwise stated, you can assume that taxes and gratuities are not included in the listed prices. When you make your reservations, please confirm these details.
  • As we’ve created the dining lists, we’ve aimed to find restaurants with great views, special holiday menus or a unique setting. Bear in mind that Christmas is a very busy time in Waikiki. Though a restaurant may have ocean views, not every table will have a direct ocean view. For the best possible view, try to make your reservation for as close to the time that the restaurant opens. Waikiki sunset around the week of Christmas is between 5:55pm and 6:00pm.
  • Most Waikiki Beach hotel-based restaurants will be open on Christmas. Check directly with the concierge of your accommodations for their special Christmas meals and events.
  • For last minute dinner reservations, check availability with OpenTable. It’s not a comprehensive list of Oahu restaurants, but it can help if you’re trying to find reservations at the last minute.
  • Once you arrive on Oahu, pick up a copy of the Star Advertiser, the local newspaper, which may provide additional dining options and events.
  • All times, pricing and information are accurately reported at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
  • We anticipate that we’ll be adding more events and dining options, so do check back. Additions will be indicated by the date they were added in a light gray font.
  • If you’ll be on Oahu through New Year’s Eve, check out our Waikiki, Honolulu, Oahu New Year’s Eve Guide, which will be updated in mid to late December.
  • Learn how to say Mele Kalikimaka, Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas.
25 comments
    1. It’s very possible, though we can’t guarantee it. We’ve seen Christmas decorations up in Hawaii until New Year’s Day.

  1. We have reservations at Orchids on Xmas Eve for the Dinner Buffet….same price and menu as Xmas day dinner buffet . I noticed you did not include so I thought I would share.

    1. I’m glad to hear they’ll be open for Christmas this year as Orchids is one of our favorite places to dine in Waikiki. Mahalo.

      At the moment, the list is a mix of 2015 and 2016 event/dinners. We normally receive the press releases from the Halekulani about what their restaurants are offering for Christmas. If I remember correctly, Orchids was either closed last year for Christmas Eve or was fully booked, so that’s why Orchids is currently not showing on the list. The list won’t be complete until December.

    1. Some may be open. We’ve just learned that the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki will be open on Christmas Day.

  2. Hi Sheila

    Can you recommend the most atmospheric restaurant with Hawaiian dancers for Christmas Eve please? And can you please keep me posted on all events leading up to Christmas day please?

    Regards.

    Lela

    1. We don’t keep track of who would have dancers at dinner. I’m guessing House Without A Key at the Halekulani will have live Hawaiian music and a hula dancer as they do other days throughout the year. Their oceanfront setting is wonderful, too.

      We can’t send out individual updates, however, you can easily keep track of them by bookmarking this page and checking back.

      Enjoy your Waikiki Christmas!

  3. Hi Sheila,

    Thanks for your information.

    Do you know of any reputable Catering companies that can deliver Christmas lunch/dinner [Turkey/Ham/Salads etc.] for a family dining event?

    1. No, we don’t know of any for Christmas. You might call some of the restaurants we’ve listed that have those items on their menu or check with local grocery stores like Foodland or Safeway. I doubt they’d deliver, though.

      1. Not catering, but Zippy’s on Oahu is offering traditional Christmas plates that you could pick up and bring to your family.

    1. I don’t tend to think of the Royal Hawaiian Center as a mall per se. It’s more of an outdoor shopping center with a beautiful courtyard.

      Also look at the Santa meeting/greeting/photo opportunities at the Honolulu City Lights and the Battleship Missouri Memorial which are both listed in the article.

  4. I read on TripAdvisor that SAnta arrives in an outrigger canoe somewhere in Waikiki.
    Do you know anything about that?

    1. Santa visited by canoe last weekend and was hosted by the Outrigger.

      We understand that Santa is going to visit Waikiki Beach again. He’s due to arrive at the Halekulani by canoe at 4:30pm on Christmas Eve.

      1. Awesome! Thanks so much for the info. If you find out he’s arriving by canoe anywhere else, please let us know. What fun!

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