The islands of Hawaii are popular Christmas vacation destinations due to year-round warm weather, lush foliage, a welcoming atmosphere, and an abundance of entertaining activities. Near many vacation rentals in Hawaii, you can enjoy colorful Christmas lighting displays, lively parades, holiday craft fairs, and seasonal special events. Check out the best places to stay in Hawaii this Christmas season.

1. Honolulu, Oahu

As the capital and largest city in Hawaii, Honolulu hosts many Christmas events and activities. It all starts off with Honolulu City Lights, a display of Christmas color in downtown Honolulu. Nearby, the historic Kawaiaha’o Church offers a live nativity, games, crafts, and holiday music. The J. Watumull Planetarium hosts Laser Holidays, a laser light show accompanied by Christmas songs. The Ala Moana Center has Santa visits and holiday hula dancers. Watch Santa arrive by outrigger canoe on Waikiki Beach. Restaurants at Waikiki Beach and around Honolulu also offer special Christmas buffets and luaus.

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2. Haleiwa, Oahu

Haleiwa, a small city on the north shore of Oahu, is famous for its annual Christmas parade. The event draws visitors from all over Oahu and includes vehicles, floats, bands, and hundreds of marchers costumed as colorful characters. The parade commences in the city, heads down Kamehameha Highway, and ends up at Haleiwa Beach Park. In winter, waves at Waimea Bay, the Pipeline, and Sunset Beach reach over 30 feet, and professional surfers put on spectacular shows for surfing fans as they ride these awesome waves.

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3. Laie, Oahu

The small city of Laie lies on the eastern side of Oahu. It’s the location of the Polynesia Cultural Center, which hosts an annual Christmas in Polynesia event. For 13 days, the center celebrates the holidays with family-friendly activities, delicious food, and live entertainment. In the evening, the Christmas Lagoon canoe ride goes past Polynesian cultural villages and beautiful displays of holiday lights as you listen to carolers performing traditional holiday songs. Along the way, live actors narrate and perform Hawaiian versions of Christmas stories. Christmas activities also include Keiki train rides for children and a scavenger hunt at the Hukilau Marketplace.

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4. Lihue, Kauai

Kauai is renowned as the Garden Isle, and Lihue lies on its southeastern coast. During the Christmas season, Lihue hosts an enjoyable holiday parade called Lights on Rice. The town’s Festival of Lights takes place at its historic county building and features Christmas carols and elaborate lighting displays. Across the street, the Kauai Museum holds an annual Christmas Craft Fair with holiday gifts made by local artisans, and vendors peddling delicious treats. Another holiday craft fair takes place in nearby Koloa at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. The Kukui Grove Shopping Center in Lihue hosts the yearly Kukui Grove Gingerbread Festival, where families compete in building gingerbread houses.

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5. Lahaina, Maui

The popular resort city of Lahaina lies on the northwest side of Maui. See the largest banyan tree in the United States, covering almost two acres. Every Christmas season, the tree is draped with thousands of lights. An elaborate opening night ceremony marks the first lighting of the tree. If you need special items for the holiday season, check out the Lahaina Christmas Store, located inside Koa’s Seaside Grill. For more extensive Christmas shopping, head a few miles north to Kaanapali and browse Whaler’s Village mall. Treat yourself to an unforgettable Christmas brunch or dinner on a holiday cruise with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Enjoy a sumptuous holiday feast while you view whales up close in their natural habitats.

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6. Kailua-Kona, Big Island

One of Kailua-Kona’s outstanding events is the Kailua-Kona Boat Parade. Watch from the pier as brightly lit boats float on Kailua Bay with colored lights arranged to resemble famous Christmas images. Kailua-Kona’s annual Hawaiian Style Christmas Parade runs along its waterfront streets. For an energetic Christmas holiday pastime, join the annual Jingle Bell Beach Run along historic Ali’i Drive. It’s great fun to watch, as many participants race in holiday costumes. There’s a 5-kilometer run for adults and shorter runs especially for kids.

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7. Hilo, Big Island

In Hilo’s downtown area, this resort city hosts an annual Christmas Light Parade. At Hilo’s Big Island Arts, Crafts, and Food Fair, browse for unique holiday gifts such as Tahitian pearls, Polynesian clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts, and food. Shop at Prince Kuhio Plaza, the largest mall on the Big Island, which has department stores, specialty shops, and a food court.

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