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While winter in Hawaii isn’t quite full of typical, traditional Christmas images: white snow, sweater weather or a roaring fireplace, we’ve got plenty of Christmas spirit of our own! Here are some of our favorite ways we do winter … island-style!

1. Holiday Feasting

You know it’s a party when there’s a pile of slippers (slippahs)! crowding the front door. Our Christmas parties tend to morph into an all-day, potluck-style feast with a revolving door of guests: parents, kids, aunties, uncles, tutus, friends, grandkids, and so on – maybe because we live in a state where so many homes are made up of multi-generational families. Some of our family-favorite dishes during the holidays include:

  • Kalua turkey: Slow-cooked shredded turkey with a deep, smoky-salty flavor
  • Pumpkin crunch: All the aunties make this! The crust holds a sweet pumpkin filling with a delicate crunch lent by chopped walnuts, topped with a thick whipped cream topping.
  • Pumpkin haupia pie: You got pumpkin pie, just add haupia as a layer. Hawaiian haupia is traditional coconut milk-based pudding that gives pumpkin pie a local twist.
  • Butter Mochi: A classic Hawaiian treat made with coconut milk and mochiko flour. Chewy, sweet and indulgent.

2. Welcome the Whales

Humpback whales visit Hawaii each year from November to May, but the peak season to spot these beautiful creatures are from January through March. Anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 whales arrive in warm Hawaiian waters for the holidays – just like out-of-state visitors! – and this migrating season makes it prime time for whale-watching tours. You can often see them breach and leap from shallow waters. Hike up Makapuu Lighthouse on Oahu or visit Poipu Beach on Kauai or Kohala Coast on the Big Island to catch a glimpse of this aquatic performance.


3. Check Out A Holiday Parade

There are a number of great holiday parades and events taking place throughout the month of December, and almost all of them have Santa Claus. Depending on the neighborhood, there will be fire trucks, local organizations, motorcycles, marching bands and more taking over the streets. Check out the Kaimuki Christmas Parade, the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade or catch Santa Claus arrive at Wailea Beach in front of the Grand Wailea at 9 a.m. on Christmas Eve.


4. Hit the Beach

If you’re a surfer, you’ll be happy to hear that winter brings some of the biggest swells to Oahu’s North Shore. You could even pack up for a beach day to watch one of the largest surfing competitions in the world, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Pro surfers from all around the globe arrive to take on record-breaking waves. Have kids? Get them into the winter spirit by playing in the sand and building snowmen!


5. Go sledding

There isn’t much snow here besides Hawai’i Island’s Mauna Kea, but sledding is possible! Hit up a hilly park and bring along some nice, sturdy cardboards. Bring the kids, head up a nice grassy hill, use your cardboard as your “sled” and speed down! Get our drift? Our ultimate favorite park to do this is Honolulu’s Kakaako Waterfront Park. Be sure to bring home your cardboard or throw them away afterwards. Our sledding might be unconventional, but it works and is loads of fun for the whole family.