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Holiday Guide to Honolulu

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Spending the holiday season in Hawaii is like magic for many, and Honolulu attracts repeat visitors year after year, who come for its tropical sunsets, warm waters, delicious food, and unique shopping opportunities. Santa himself pulls into Waikiki Beach in a canoe each year, so you know you'll be in good company too, as you celebrate the season and welcome in the new year in this piece of paradise!

Good for
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Beach Goer
  • Like a Local

10 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Honolulu Hale (City Hall)

Government Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Neal S. Blaisdell Center

Theatres

Kalakaua Ave

Flea & Street Markets, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Waikiki Beach

Beaches

Banzai Pipeline

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Reefs, Beaches

Star of Honolulu - Dinner and Whale Watch Cruises

Dolphin & Whale Watching

Sheraton Waikiki

Hotels

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues, History Museums, Military Bases & Facilities

Kaka'ako Waterfront Park

Parks, Beaches

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail

Hiking Trails, Historic Walking Areas

Malia Y's City Tips

  • Instead of mass-produced souvenirs, visit one of the many craft fairs or markets held this time of year in Hawaii. Your friends and family will love your hand-made treasures!
  • Winter in Hawaii may not be white, but it does mean the rainy season. A light rain jacket is a great idea, but don't forget the sunscreen too — you can burn here even on a cloudy day!
  • If you're looking to spend the holidays in Hawaii, book as far in advance as you can for the best deals. It's peak season for snowbirds, so hotels and activities are extra busy.
  • Honolulu Hale (City Hall)
    Government Buildings, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    One of my favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season is by visiting Honolulu City Lights on the grounds of Honolulu Hale. Each year, festivities kick off with a parade and a beautiful tree lighting ceremony in early December. Plus, every evening until early January, you can enjoy the life-sized Christmas cards and lights strung up around the grounds, or take in the festivities from one of the famous trolleys that loop around the downtown area, playing carols as they go.

    Good for
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Hidden Gems
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Parking can be tough for the tree lighting ceremony, so consider carpooling or taking public transport.
    • If you opt to use one of the trolleys, be sure to consult timetables and stops so you don't miss the last return.
    • Don't forget to snap your photo with the aloha shirt-clad Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #73 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    • Awesome during the holidays! 12/12/2018
    • Just o/k 03/07/2018
    • Honolulu Hale (City Hall)
    Address:
    530 S King St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96813-3014
    Phone:
    +1 808-527-5666
    Other:
  • Neal S. Blaisdell Center
    Theatres
    Malia Y Says:

    The Blaisdell Center is a great shopping spot during the holiday season, hosting two of the largest Christmas Craft fairs, where you can find a huge number of locally made gifts and souvenirs under one roof.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Entry to the expos are generally inexpensive, but check newspapers for discount coupon offers anyway.
    • Cash is always best as the smallest vendors may not accept credit cards. You will find a number of ATMs on the property, if needed.
    • The Islandwide Christmas Crafts and Food Expo takes place annually the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the Honolulu Gift Fair takes place the weekend before Christmas.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #99 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    • ELVIS STATUE is for Real Elvis Fans 25/12/2018
    • Old conventional hall but still works. 11/07/2018
    • Neal S. Blaisdell Center
    Address:
    777 Ward Ave
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96814-2166
    Phone:
    +1 808-591-2211
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Kalakaua Ave
    Flea & Street Markets, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Waikiki Holiday Parade takes place on Kalakaua Avenue, complete with marching bands from all over the country, colorful floral floats, hula dancing, and live Hawaiian music.

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Parking in Waikiki can be expensive. If you're driving, consider parking where you can get a validation with your lunch or dinner reservation.
    • This event is also designed in remembrance of the lives lost at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
    • If you miss the parade itself, Kalakaua Avenue is decked out for the holidays, with lights and tiki torches lining the beautiful Waikiki Beach.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #82 of 521 things to do in Oahu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Like main vein through very busy area 07/05/2019
    • Avoid 23/04/2019
    • Kalakaua Ave
    Other:
  • Waikiki Beach
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Where else in the world can you watch Santa make his grand entrance by canoe? In Waikiki, you've got two chances to catch him in action each year. In mid-December, he pops up in front of Outrigger Waikiki, and on Christmas Eve, you can see him surfing into the beach at Halekulani Hotel. Plus, with iconic Diamond Head in the background, you can still enjoy a white — well, sand at least — Christmas.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Temperatures in December are still very warm, but you'll want to bring along a light waterproof layer, just in case there's a sprinkling of rain. (In which case, watch for rainbows!)
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice stretch of beach 22/05/2019
    • Great beach to swim 22/05/2019
    • Waikiki Beach
    Address:
    Kalakaua Avenuue
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815
    Other:
  • Banzai Pipeline
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Reefs, Beaches
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Winter is big wave season on Oahu's north shore and Pipeline is one of the best spots to watch the legends in action. Popular events like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing are held each year here, and some, like the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau are only held if waves reach a minimum face height of 40 ft!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Safety should be your first priority when staking out a spot to enjoy the action — heed all warning signs and lifeguard instructions.
    • Beaches get extremely crowded all up and down the North Shore during the winter season. Add in lots of additional time for finding parking and then walking to your destination.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 5 things to do in Pupukea
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • even with small waves, this is an impressive beach 19/05/2019
    • Sick Beach 13/05/2019
    • Banzai Pipeline
    Address:
    Sunset Beach Park
    Pupukea, Oahu, HI
  • Star of Honolulu - Dinner and Whale Watch Cruises
    Dolphin & Whale Watching
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Winter is the best time for a cruise in Hawaii because it coincides with the annual humpback whale migration! Star of Honolulu offers multiple daily departures for whale watching cruises (some with a guarantee of a repeat cruise if no whale is spotted!) and a variety of evening packages as well. Trained naturalists are aboard to help point out whale sightings and to inform passengers about whale behavior and history.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Besides the popular daytime whale watching cruises, if you're visiting on a Friday night, you can opt for the dinner cruise to catch the weekly Waikiki Fireworks Show.
    • The ship is large and stable, but if you're prone to seasickness, ask the crew for free ginger pills or take your choice of motion-sickness remedy well in advance.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #60 of 229 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fairly good dinner cruise 22/05/2019
    • Sunset cruise, dinner and show 20/05/2019
    • Star of Honolulu - Dinner and Whale Watch Cruises
    Address:
    Aloha Tower Marketplace, Pier 8
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96813
    Phone:
    +1 808-983-7827
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    6:30 AM - 8:00 PM
    Other:
  • Sheraton Waikiki
    Hotels
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    For a unique holiday photo opportunity, stop by the entrance and lobby of the Sheraton Waikiki, where professional sand sculptors create Christmas-themed displays for guests and visitors to enjoy each holiday season. Past sculptures have included Santa with his surfboard and aloha shirt or driving in a retro convertible full of presents!

    Good for
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center is adjacent to the Sheraton and you'll find lots of shops and restaurants that validate parking there, meaning you can get a lower rate.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 86 Hotels in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • One of the best locations at Waikiki 22/05/2019
    • Perfect anniversary staycation!!! 22/05/2019
    • Sheraton Waikiki
    Address:
    2255 Kalakaua Avenue
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815-2579
    Phone:
    (808) 922-4422
    Other:
  • Pearl Harbor National Memorial
    Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues, History Museums, Military Bases & Facilities
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    December is a bittersweet time to visit Pearl Harbor as you will find many annual events around this time to commemorate the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It's one of the most popular attractions in Oahu, but a visit is especially meaningful this time of year.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Bring minimal personal items with you as bags are not allowed in the site. Don't take a chance by leaving valuables in your rental car!
    • A free ferry ride to the sunken USS Arizona Memorial is a must, but be sure to claim your tickets as soon as you arrive. There is usually a bit of a wait until you'll depart.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Completely Emotional 23/05/2019
    • Amazing. 22/05/2019
    • Pearl Harbor National Memorial
    Address:
    1 Arizona Memorial Place
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96818
    Phone:
    +1 808-422-3399
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Kaka'ako Waterfront Park
    Parks, Beaches
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    On New Year's Eve, the 'Party of the Year' is held at Kakaako Waterfront Park. It's a great outdoor venue with tons of excitement for all ages to enjoy, including a Ferris wheel and games, multiple concert stages, and an Eat the Street food truck rally. Fireworks shows are held every hour from 9pm until the grand finale at midnight too.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Much of the festival is free, but tickets must be purchased for the concert and VIP areas.
    • Other fireworks displays around Oahu include a large, music-synced show in Waikiki Beach, and another at the Ko Olina resort area on the west side of the island.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #101 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    • Nice walking park 27/07/2017
    • Beena a while 18/05/2016
    • Kaka'ako Waterfront Park
    Address:
    Cooke St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96813-5419
  • Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
    Hiking Trails, Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Malia Y Says:

    Winter is humpback whale season in Hawaii, and a great place to view them (if you are not keen on joining a whale-watching cruise) is from the Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. Only 1.4 miles long and paved, this hike is not too difficult and affords beautiful views over the eastern coast of the island. Informational signage is provided along the way to teach you a bit about the annual humpback migration too.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • If you're up early enough (or dealing with jet lag), this hike is especially beautiful for sunrise since it's one of the first places on the island that the sun's rays hit.
    • There's no shade along the trail so be sure to take water and don't forget the sunscreen!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 292 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Go Early or Go Late 23/05/2019
    • Go early! Beautiful view! 21/05/2019
    • Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
    Address:
    Near the Hawaii Kai Golf Course on Kalanianaole Highway
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI
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