Christmas in Kauai Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to Kauai During the Holidays (2023)

by | Oct 21, 2023

Is Kauai good for Christmas?

Yes, Kauai is an excellent destination for Christmas. Kauai boasts a warm and tropical climate throughout the year, offering a unique holiday experience compared to traditional snowy settings. Furthermore, during Christmas in Kauai the island features a range of winter events and activities that ensure a memorable Christmas celebration for visitors.

Planning a trip to Hawaii? Have any questions? Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!

Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided link.

Information Disclaimer: This website gives general info and isn’t legal or official advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge, which you are fully liable for. All activities have risks; assess current conditions and follow local laws and signage.

Planning Your Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources!

🏨 Accommodations: We recommend Expedia

✈️ Flights: For the cheapest flights, we use Skyscanner

🚗 Rental Car: We recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental

🌋 Hawaii Tours & Attractions: We recommend Get Your Guide

📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

Planning a holiday getaway to Kauai? You’re in for an exciting treat as Kauai is renowned for celebrating Christmas with aloha and unique cultural traditions.

This article, packed with insights on the history of Christmas in Hawaii, must-see festive attractions, and helpful planning tips will guide you in creating unforgettable memories during your visit in 2023.

Let’s explore this island in Hawaii during this holiday season!

Key Takeaways of Christmas in Kauai

  • Christmas in Kauai is a unique blend of local traditions and cultural influences from various cultures, making it a special holiday destination.
  • Must-see attractions for Christmas on Kauai include the Festival of Lights, Santa’s appearances, The Grand Christmas Tree, special concerts and services, and festive dining options.
  • Tips for planning your Christmas visit to Kauai include choosing the best time to visit, booking accommodations at recommended resorts like Waipouli Beach Resort and Pili Mai Resort, and exploring activities and attractions.

Ready to learn more about Christmas in Hawaii? After reading this blog post, check out our in-depth article on What to Know When Visiting Hawaii During Christmastime.

The History of Christmas in Kauai and Hawaii

christmas in kauai - palm tree with lights

Looking for a perfect winter getaway? Christmas in Hawaii is a unique blend of local traditions and influences from various cultures, making it a truly special holiday on the island of Kauai. Overall, Christmas in December is a special time in the islands.

How Christmas is Celebrated in Hawaii

In Hawaii, Christmas is a mix of old and new traditions. The holiday season starts with Makahiki. This is a time for rest and feasting that lasts four months. When Europeans came to Hawaii, they brought Christmas with them.

It fits well with the happy spirit of Makahiki.

King Kamehameha IV made Christmas an official holiday in 1862. Today, Hawaiians decorate palm trees instead of fir trees like in other places. They sing carols in both English and Hawaiian on warm sandy beaches under bright stars.

Santa Claus visits every Friday before Christmas Day. But he doesn’t ride a sleigh pulled by reindeer here! He comes in on a canoe, wearing shorts and an aloha shirt instead of his usual red suit.

On Kauai Island, people light up their homes with festive displays. They set up scenes from Hawaiian legends using lights too! Some houses even show Santa surfing or riding dolphins! (not to be imitated in real life 😉

All these make celebrating Christmas fun and special for everyone on this beautiful island.

Cultural Traditions and Influences

Hawaii’s Christmas is a mix of many cultures. It all starts with Makahiki, a four-month celebration by the native Hawaiians. They took time off work to feast and rest during this period.

When the Europeans came, they brought their own holiday, Christmas. The Hawaiians adopted it because it fit into their season of merrymaking. It felt right because of the happy spirit of Makahiki. King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma brought Thanksgiving and Christmas together in 1856 as a sign of unity.

Christmas became official in Hawaii only six years later thanks to King Kamehameha.

Today, Kauai has its own special way of celebrating Christmas that mixes new and old traditions. People put up lights around palm trees and decorate canoes instead of sleighs! They serve local fish for dinner in place of turkey or ham.

Santa Claus trades his red suit for aloha shirts and rides on a surfboard! This blend of Hawaiian and Western customs makes Christmas on Kauai truly unique.

Must-See Attractions for Christmas on Kauai

christmas in kauai - waimea canyon

Experience the magical Festival of Lights, see Santa’s visit and appearances, marvel at the Grand Christmas Tree, enjoy special Christmas concerts and services, and indulge in festive restaurants and dining options.

The Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights in Kauai is a magical holiday event that you don’t want to miss. Starting in 1997, it takes place at the Historic County Building in Lihue and its surrounding neighborhood.

This beautiful building is adorned with red, green, and blue lights, creating a festive atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. The decorations are made by Auntie Josie, a local artist who uses recycled materials and glass ornaments to create stunning displays.

During the festival, visitors can expect live music performances, a visit from Santa Claus himself, goodie bags filled with treats, and more joyful surprises. It’s an enchanting experience that truly captures the spirit of Christmas in Kauai.

Santa’s Visit and Appearances

Santa Claus is a special part of the Christmas celebrations on Kauai. He appears at different places around the island during the holiday season. One popular spot to find Santa is at the Kukui Grove Mall in Lihue, where he can be seen from 11 a.m. onwards most days.

Another exciting place to see Santa is at the Kauai Historic County Building, where he visits on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Santa doesn’t arrive in the usual way. It’s a unique experience because Santa arrives on Kauai in an outrigger canoe wearing an Aloha shirt and board shorts.

Don’t miss out on meeting Santa and capturing some magical Christmas moments!

The Grand Christmas Tree

One of the must-see attractions for Christmas on Kauai is The Grand Christmas Tree. While evergreen trees are uncommon in Hawaii, locals find creative ways to celebrate the holiday season.

They often decorate tall palm trees with bright lights and traditional Hawaiian ornaments. It’s a unique sight that captures the festive spirit of Kauai during this special time of year.

Be sure to visit The Grand Christmas Tree and marvel at its beauty and creativity as you soak up the holiday atmosphere on the island.

Special Christmas Concerts and Services

During Christmas on Kauai, you’ll have the chance to attend special concerts and services celebrating the holiday season. These events are a wonderful way to experience the festive spirit of Kauai and immerse yourself in the local culture.

These performances will fill your heart with holiday cheer, from traditional Hawaiian hymns to joyful carols. Whether you’re attending a concert at a local church or joining a community gathering, these Christmas services offer a unique opportunity to connect with the people of Kauai and share in their joyous celebrations.

Festive Restaurants and Dining Options

During your Christmas visit to Kauai, you’ll have plenty of delicious dining options to choose from. The island offers a diverse food culture, with restaurants that cater to every taste bud.

For an exceptional culinary experience, head to JO2 in Kapa’a or Bar Acuda and Ama in Hanalei. These local favorites serve up mouthwatering dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

If you’re looking for something more upscale, Merriman’s in Poipu is the place to go. They offer a farm-to-table menu that showcases the flavors of Hawaii. Don’t forget to try some tropical desserts and refreshing shave ice while exploring the island during this festive season!

Tips for Planning Your Christmas Visit to Kauai

Plan your Christmas visit to Kauai by choosing the best time, booking accommodations, and exploring recommended activities and attractions.

The Best Time to Visit Kauai

The best time to visit Kauai for a magical Christmas experience is during the winter season, from November to February. Although it may be rainy at times, the island’s warm tropical climate and festive atmosphere make it a perfect destination for holiday celebrations.

You can enjoy the annual Festival of Lights in December, where you’ll see beautiful light displays and unique Hawaiian ornaments. Plus, you won’t have to worry about snow because Kauai doesn’t get any! For those seeking a winter wonderland, consider traveling to the Island of Hawaii to see snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

So pack your aloha spirit and get ready for an unforgettable Christmas on Kauai!


Accommodations are a crucial part of your Christmas vacation in Kauai, and top recommendations are the Waipouli Beach Resort and Pili Mai Resort.


NameLocationSpecial Features
Waipouli Beach Resort and SpaKapaa, HawaiiOffers a festive atmosphere perfect for Christmas. Other amenities include a spa for relaxation.
Marriott’s Waiohai Beach ClubKauai, HawaiiA recommended resort for Christmas stays, complete with festive decorations and holiday-themed activities.
Islander on the BeachKauai, HawaiiAnother great option for accommodation, it provides beachfront views and comfortable rooms.


Recommended Activities and Attractions

Here are some recommended activities and attractions for your Christmas visit to Kauai:


  • Explore the Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building in Lihue.
  • Don’t miss Santa’s unique arrival on an outrigger canoe, wearing an Aloha shirt and boardshorts.
  • Take a walk along the beach and admire the tall palm trees decorated with bright lights and traditional Hawaiian ornaments.
  • Visit the Island of Hawaii to see snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa’s peaks.
  • Enjoy special Christmas concerts and services happening throughout the island.
  • Indulge in a festive Christmas dinner at one of the many restaurants offering delicious holiday menus.
  • Take part in fun activities like snorkeling in Poipu Beach or exploring Waimea Canyon, also known as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
  • Don’t forget to experience the beauty of Kauai’s North Shore, with its stunning cliffs, lush valleys, and picturesque Hanalei Bay.

Want to dive deeper into the Hawaiian holiday experience? Check out our comprehensive guide on Christmas in Hawaii for all the insider tips.

christmas in kauai - beach

FAQs for Christmas in Kauai

What is Christmas in Kauai like?

Christmas in Kauai is a unique and magical experience. The island transforms into a tropical holiday paradise with beautiful decorations, festive lights, and a relaxed, beachy vibe.

Are there any special events or festivals during Christmas in Kauai?

Yes, there are several special events and festivals that take place during Christmas in Kauai. One of the highlights is the Festival of Lights, which features stunning holiday displays and activities for the whole family.

Can I celebrate Christmas on the beach in Kauai?

Absolutely! Kauai offers plenty of beachfront locations where you can celebrate Christmas under the sun. Many visitors enjoy building sandcastles, snorkeling, or simply soaking up the tropical atmosphere.

Will Santa Claus visit Kauai?

Yes! Santa Claus visits Kauai during Christmas time, just like anywhere else. You might even spot Santa paddleboarding or riding a surfboard on the island’s famous waves!

What is Christmas Day like in Kauai?

A: Christmas Day in Kauai is a time to relax, enjoy the beauty of the island, and spend quality time with loved ones. Many people have picnics on the beach or take part in outdoor activities like hiking or snorkeling.

Are there any resorts in Kauai that are perfect for Christmas stay?

Yes, there are several resorts in Kauai that offer exceptional accommodations and holiday experiences during Christmas. Some popular options include the Princeville Resort, the Anini Beach Resort, and the Wailua Bay View Resort.

What is the weather like in Kauai during Christmas?

Kauai enjoys a tropical climate year-round, but during Christmas, it can be a bit rainy. However, the rain showers are usually brief and followed by sunshine, so it’s still a great time to visit.

Can I go snorkeling in Kauai during Christmas?

Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time for snorkeling in Kauai. The island’s crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life make it a perfect destination for underwater exploration.

When is the best time to visit Kauai for Christmas?

The best time to visit Kauai for Christmas is generally around Christmas Day itself. Many holiday events and activities take place throughout the month of December, so you’re bound to experience the festive spirit whenever you decide to go.


Enjoy a magical Christmas on Kauai with its rich history and unique traditions. Don’t miss the Festival of Lights at the Historic County Building in Lihue, where you can experience festive music, visit Santa Claus, and receive goodie bags.

With beautiful attractions, delicious dining options, and breathtaking scenery, Kauai is the perfect tropical paradise to celebrate the holiday season. Mele Kalikimaka from Kauai!

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.