2021 Hawaii Holiday Activities

Hawaii Blog

Business and leisure travel to Hawaii is back open, and that means the 2021 holiday season will (fingers crossed) be coming to the islands once again. 

Although perhaps the typical picture is one synonymous with summer, the reality is that late November through January is still a fantastic and popular time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. The weather is generally warm all year round, even if rains increase mildly and night temperatures drop manageably in the winter months. 

More importantly, traveling to Hawaii during the holiday season presents a wealth of unique opportunities. There are special events to attend and lots of season-specific things to see and do.

— article continued below —


Surfing Contests

It’s hard to imagine a more memorable way to celebrate the holidays in Hawaii than through surfing. If you choose to stay in Oahu, you’ll have multiple options for world-class competitions you can attend. You’ll witness firsthand some of the best surfers on the planet tackling the very same iconic waves upon which the sport was born.

The holiday months are also the months with the biggest waves here - sometimes 30 feet! Catch the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing on the North Shore, starting on December 21st and running for a month. You won’t want to miss it.

Unfortunately, the legendary Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, another annual surf contest, was canceled for 2021 amid pandemic concerns. This serves as an excellent reminder to be sure to check events as they approach continually.

Honolulu City Lights

This is something like the epicenter of the holiday festivities on Oahu. Honolulu City Lights is a nearly 40-year long tradition. As of writing this article, the month-long festival is making a comeback in 2021.

Some safety precautions will of course still be in effect, and not all traditional events will be hosted - for instance, no opening night parade or photos with Santa. However, you’ll be able to attend the tree-lighting ceremony and walk around the numerous exhibits, which include numerous outdoor displays and a Christmas tree display. Lots of photo opportunities!

It is worth noting that for some activities you will be required to show proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID test within the last 48 hours, in order to attend. We recommend checking the official brochure continually as the event approaches.


Whale Watching

On Maui, humpback whale season begins in November. Visiting during the holidays is potentially your best chance to see these incredible animals in person.

PacWhale is an excellent and eco-friendly place to look to book a tour. Their foundation is also a great target for support if you’re interested in conservation efforts. According to their website, they are currently open for tours for anyone abiding by the state’s current travel requirements (which you can always check the status of here).

Visit the Lahaina Banyan Tree

Maui is home to many natural marvels. One of its most precious is the Lahaina Banyan Tree, one of the largest of its kind in the entire country.
Visitors come year round to stand in wonder beneath the sprawling shade of this gentle giant; however the holiday season marks a very special time to visit. That’s because, on December 3rd, the island hosts a traditional lighting ceremony where the countless branches are lit up by thousands of holiday lights.

The Herculean task is a labor of love for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, who use the event to bring more people into the presence of this cherished landmark. Even if you miss the lighting ceremony, you can still visit any evening from 6pm to midnight throughout the month of December to see the lights in action.


Mokihana Festival

This dynamic annual event is billed as “a week-long celebration of Hawaiian culture” and it surely lives up to that claim.

The Mokihana Festival runs late November through early December and presents some of the widest variety of any island event. There are lei competitions. There are concerts showcasing local composers. There are hula competitions. There are educational lectures. There is even a Hawaiian church service (held virtually this year) to kick off the event, which is welcome to all and features music in both English and Hawaiian.

The festival is put together by the Malie Foundation, and 2021 will be the festival’s 20th anniversary. Malie was actually a Kauai-based music trio, and the festival originated as a composer showcase for the local community.

As always, make sure to check the festival’s website for any updates on safety measures or cancellations.

The Big Island

Paradise Studio Tour

One of the best ways to connect with local culture is through local art. If you’re on the Big Island this holiday season, you’ll have an exceptional chance to do so.
The Paradise Studio Tour is a free-admission annual event hosted on December 4th and 5th. The public is invited to visit the home studios of artists in the Puna district. You’ll see some of the most skillful and soulful works anywhere on the islands, ranging from paintings, to sculptures, to jewelry, to ceramics.
This being open to the general public, it is subject to some safety risk. Last year, it was hosted virtually. This year will hopefully be different, but as always, please be sure to check on the website or call (808) 982 5150 for more information.

The holiday season can be among the most extraordinary and exciting times to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Visitors have been celebrating the season here for decades, and many come back to do it again and again.

Of course, everyone hopes that event cancellations will be kept to a minimum. That being said, the safety of the public always comes first. We’ve done our best to include resources in this article for you to make sure you’re up to date on which events are still happening and under what circumstances.

As of right now, there’s still plenty to do and experience - and no matter what, visiting Hawaii for the holidays is an experience you’re unlikely to regret.

Mahalo and happy holidays!

Recommended Hawaii Tours
Terms of Use & Disclosures

This website's use is your expressly conditioned acceptance of the terms, conditions, and disclaimers found within our Disclaimer of Warranty and Limitation of Liability page without any modifications. Your use of this website constitutes your acceptance of all the terms, conditions, and disclaimers posted herein. If you do not agree with any part of these terms and conditions, you should not use this website. We also receive a small commission from travel partners for some of the links found on this website. All partners and related links comply with our Advertising Disclosures. For example, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. These links do not cost you anything and help provide the necessary funding to maintain this website. Mahalo!