Top 8 Reasons Why Hawaiʻi Island Should be Your Home for the Holidays

Jingle bells, palm tree shells, Santa’s surfing in the waves!

If you dream of trading in your winter boots for flip-flops, we’ve got the festive escape you’ve been yearning for. It’s time to rethink your traditional yuletide plans and consider a Hawaiian twist on the classic holiday celebration. Immerse yourself in Hawaiʻi Island’s rich cultural heritage. Adventure through ten of the world’s fourteen climate zones—and never leave the island. Hike through Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park or stargaze from the summit of Maunakea. Sunbathe on the shores of Fairmont Orchid’s private Pauoa Bay and watch Santa ride in on canoe. Get ready to pack your stockings and sunscreen as you and your family jet off to Hawaiʻi Island for the most tropical and tinsel-filled festive season of your lives!

santa in outrigger canoe

1. Santa's Arrival

Santa’s sleigh ride is an outrigger canoe in Hawaiʻi. Feel the holiday cheer as everyone awaits the arrival of Santa at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve! Come greet Santa as he enters Pauoa Bay at Fairmont Orchid in a Hawaiian outrigger canoe. Make sure to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus for a complimentary gift and photo for your keiki (children). If you begin your holiday adventure to Hawaiʻi early, consider visiting Hawaiʻi Island’s Christmas parades. Celebrate the first Saturday of December at the Christmas Twilight Parade, featuring multiple floats representing the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) history of Waimea. The following Saturday, December 9th, enjoy the Kailua-Kona Christmas Parade highlighting local marching bands, island-inspired floats and look out for Santa waving!

humpback whale

2. Whale Watching Season

December in Hawaiʻi means the return of the majestic humpback whales. Explore the pristine Kohala coastline by outrigger canoe with our Hui Holokai beach ambassadors and snorkel the underwater wonders—you may even hear whales singing underwater.  “I take guests out on morning canoe adventures every day and I’ve had the great fortune of spotting a number of whales breaching within 50 yards of our canoe,” shared Elijah Smith, Hui Holokai beach ambassador. “It’s important to maintain a respectful distance, and it’s always a majestic sight to behold. It never gets old.” You can even watch the whales playing out at sea while relaxing along the shores of Pauoa Bay.

3. Explore Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

As the rest of the world embraces a winter wonderland, here you’ll discover a volcanic wonderland, where the earth comes alive with molten lava flows and the rugged landscape contrasts beautifully with the festive spirit. Imagine hiking across a volcanic crater on the Kīlauea Iki trail, driving down the picturesque winding Chain of Craters, and stargazing under the clear Hawaiian skies on Christmas Eve. It’s a chance to trade snowflakes for the glow of lava, and carolers for the songs of native birds.

two people looking through a large telescope

4. Stargazing in Paradise

‘Tis the perfect season to wish upon a star. Hawaiʻi Island is perfect for stargazing thanks to minimal light pollution and clear air. Due to the island’s location, over 80 percent of all the stars can be visible, including the North Star and the Southern Cross. If you are craving sweater weather, book a tour to explore the summit of Maunakea to stargaze. This festive season, Fairmont Orchid is also offering a stargazing experience with Star Gaze Hawaiʻi to learn about the traditions of Hawaiian voyaging navigation—you may even see a shooting star fly across the sky.

Baby eating cookies

5. Keiki Activities

Begin your holiday season with a torch lighting ceremony and hula performance on Fairmont Orchid’s sunset terrace overlooking the ocean. Build memories and sandcastles with your entire ʻohana (family) at Pauoa Bay. Let your keiki (kids) use candy to build their dream Hawaiian gingerbread hale (house). Bring your culinary dreams to life while decorating cupcakes, Hawaiian cookies, personal pizza or making sushi. Spend your afternoons in the shade of a private cabana just in time for ice cream hour by the pool. Make sure to celebrate the good times and tan lines over a festive afternoon iced tea.

luau hula dancing

6. 'Tis the Season to Feast

Feast on an experience that blends the joy of the season with the timeless traditions of the Aloha State as you ring in the New Year with a New Year’s Eve Lū’au. As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, the enchanting melodies of ukuleles and the rhythmic sway of hula dancers transport you to a world of Hawaiian folklore and merriment.

Toast to spending time with ʻohana (family) in paradise over chef-inspired festive favorites at our restaurants: Brown’s Beach House, Binchotan: Bar & Grill and Orchid Court. Our restaurants highlight sustainable and fresh menu items grown on Hawaiʻi Island. Many ingredients come from our chefʻs garden on the property, including a botanicals collection and onsite beehives. Finally, be on the lookout for the sweet lifesize chocolate display in our lobby, designed and baked by our award-winning pastry team!

woman getting ready for a massage

7. Spa-La-La

Bring a piece of relaxation home with you! Make your own spa scrub or bath bomb at our award-winning Spa Without Walls, with natural ingredients and scents grown on Hawaiʻi Island. Learn about the healing powers of Native Hawaiian plants and how they are still used today. Treat yourself to a Hiwa Hiwa massage, which includes a traditional Hawaiian lomi lomi massage in an outdoor waterfall hale or oceanfront cabana with a Hawaiian māmaki mud wrap to the lower legs and feet. Māmaki is only grown in Hawaiʻi, and its leaves are used by Native Hawaiians as healing medicine or tea.

Woman shopping at market

8. Shop Local

Looking for last-minute unique gifts or stocking stuffers? Shop oceanside at Fairmont Orchid’s Lā Mākeke Pop-Up Market as you discover handcrafted goods from a selection of Hawai’i Island’s finest artisans. Browse our various craft stands, such as glass blowing art, Hawaiian skincare products and Hawaiʻi coffee on December 22 and December 29, 2023, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Explore the renown farmer’s markets and craft fairs, such as the Kamuela Farmers Market on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or Kona Farmers Market on Wednesday through Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Whether you’re unwrapping gifts under the tropical sun, savoring festive feasts by the beach, or simply soaking in the tranquility of the island, Fairmont Orchid on Hawaiʻi Island offers an exceptional holiday experience that will leave you with the gift of a lifetime – the joy of a Hawaiian Christmas. Mele Kalikimaka and we look forward to welcoming you soon!

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