How do we celebrate Christmas in Hawaii?

by | Dec 14, 2019 | Ocean Conservation for Kids, Hawaii Travel

Sunny greetings from Hawaii! Today’s blog post tackles another common question as many tourists wonder how we celebrate Christmas in Hawaii.

So let’s dive right in so you can discover five fun facts about how we celebrate Christmas in Hawaii.

1. Christmas Trees – Fresh and Fake

Fresh trees can be bought at retailers Home Depot or Lowes who ship containers from the West Coast but I remember a few years back that there was a shortage of trees because of a refrigeration problem. The trees were useless when they had finally arrived on the island. 🙁

The better option is to buy one locally from a tree farm, like Hamakua Christmas Tree Forest and Hooluana Tree Farm.

Fresh local trees keep the islands safe from invading pests that can arrive from the mainland (but yes, fake trees are also readily available at local stores).

Our tree with my favorite cat Timmy

2. White Christmas in Hawaii

The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the largest mountain in the world Mauna Kea (= White Mountain). It stands 13,803 feet above sea level and when measured from its underwater base it’s over 33,000 feet high.

Every winter Mauna Kea is snow-capped, most recently in November (see snow falls on Mauna Kea). It’s a spectacular view when you see the white peak from a sandy beach while tipping your toes into the warm Pacific.

Or you see trucks coming down from the mountain filled with snow lining up to build a short-lived snowman or getting ready for snowball fights! 🙂

Snow on top of Mauna Kea (Source: KHON2)

3. Santa Claus’ Transportation

Santa Claus – Kanakaloka in Hawaiian – does not arrive with his reindeer on the islands, he comes in an outrigger canoe.

Don’t believe it, then check out this article about Santa in Waikiki.

Kanakaloka uses outrigger canoes

4. Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner is a big part of the holiday celebration in Hawaii with old-fashioned turkey and ham feasts, but many include the Polynesian infused kitchen. In our house, German cuisine usually comes through when we get together on the 25th.

I kind of miss celebrating with my family as back home life slowed down for 2.5 days. On Christmas Eve (24th) we opened the presents and enjoyed each other’s company on the 25th and 26th.

But honestly, I am not complaining here as the weather is much better now with the blue skies and mild temperatures. 🙂

A Manta Ray Ornament is a Must!

5. Mele Kalikimaka

The translation of “Merry Christmas” to Hawaiian is “Mele Kalikimaka” –  /may-lay kah-lee-kee-mah-kah

If you need help on of how to properly pronounce it, then check out Bing Crosby beautiful Hawaiian Christmas Song.

From all of us at Manta Ray Advocates, we wish you Frohe Weihnachten (German for Merry Christmas)!
Warmest Aloha,


P.S. Sunday, December 15th is the last day to order a physical copy of “Notch, the Rescued Dolphin” in time for Christmas. This children’s book – based on a remarkable true story – delights kids of all ages and is a heartwarming gift year-round.

If you order now, then we will be able to ship hard copies so they arrive in time for Christmas morning! Another option is to get the eBook of Notch on Amazon. Mahalo!


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