Things to do on Maui in winter: couple swimming in the ocean with santa hats on

Things To Do on Maui in Winter (December-January-February)

Winter is one of the most popular visitor seasons on Maui. . .for obvious reasons! People who live in colder regions get just plain tired of shoveling snow and bundling up in a dozen layers of clothing, making Maui’s tropical weather and carefree lifestyle more appealing than ever. If you are planning a winter visit, here are some popular annual events and other fun things to do on Maui in winter.




Things to do on Maui in winter: whale tail in the ocean


Whale Watching: Winter is whale season in Maui. Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii’s warm waters for the winter months, and the official Maui whale-watching season is from mid-December to mid-May, with the peak months for whale sightings being January, February, and March. Whale watching is one of the most popular things to do on Maui in winter. Whale watching cruises are a wonderful way to see these magnificent creatures, but you can also view whale activity from land. You can even hear them singing underwater! Take a look at these Whale Watching Tips.



Holiday Events: Other than the whales, December on Maui is all about the Christmas season! Santa often visits Maui in December, usually wearing shorts and plenty of sunscreen. There are many holiday events, concerts, and craft fairs featuring local hand-made artwork and handicrafts that make unique gifts. Check the local newspapers for schedules of holiday events while you’re here. 

Things to do on Maui in winter: santa's jacket, hat, and snorkel fins on the beach
Mahalo to Napili Kai Beach Resort for sharing this shot of a Santa sighting on Napili Bay.


Here are two fun annual holiday tree lighting events:

The Annual Lighting of the Banyan Tree in Lahaina. Grab a spot at Banyan Tree Park in Lahaina and watch while the massive banyan tree (almost 150 years old) is lit up for the holidays! This free event is a two-day celebration on Saturday and Sunday, with the lighting ceremony taking place the first evening. Holiday arts and crafts, live entertainment, and children’s activities throughout the day. 2017 dates are Saturday and Sunday, December 2 and 3, with the lighting ceremony on Saturday. More Details as they become available.

The Annual Tree Lighting at Ulupalakua. This free family-friendly event takes place upcountry (on the slopes of Mount Haleakala) on the grounds of MauiWine at Ulupalakua Ranch. The tree lighting takes place after sunset, followed by a movie under the stars. Bundle up because it can get chilly up there in the evening! The 2017 event is set for December 9. More Details, as they become available.

Things to do on Maui in winter: palm tree with holiday lights
Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas)




Things to do on Maui in winter: Plantation Golf Course


PGA TOUR Sentry Tournament of Champions: Hello golfers…this one’s for you! Head to the Plantation Golf Course (pictured) in Kapalua for this televised season-opener event for the PGA TOUR. Only players who won official PGA TOUR events during the previous calendar year qualify to tee it up in this annual event. This longstanding event is one of the most anticipated things to do on Maui in winter, providing an opportunity to see some of the world’s top golfers in action! 2018 Dates: January 3-7  Details and Tickets




Things to do on Maui in winter: Chinese Lion Dance


Annual Chinese New Year Festival: Celebrating the Chinese culture that has been part of the fabric of Hawaii’s “melting pot” community for generations. Every year, there is a Chinese New Year festival at Maui Mall in Kahului (Central Maui), including entertainment like a Tai Chi demonstration, Chinese fireworks, and a traditional Lion Dance. At this writing, the 2018 date for the event has not yet been announced.  More Details as they become available.



Run And Walk for The Whales: An annual fun run and walking event to support humpback whale research. Festivities start and end in the shopping center at Maalaea Harbor (Central/South Maui) and include a 1-mile, 5K, 10K, and 11.5-mile course, as well as other options for participation. The 2018 date is February 10. Online registration closes on February 7. More Details


Maui Whale Festival: Hosted by the Pacific Whale Foundation, this is a month-long celebration of our annual winter visitors–the humpback whales–with a series of events taking place throughout February. Check HERE for a schedule of events and more details as they become available.


Things to do on Maui in winter: whale tail slapping the ocean


Year-round Activities

Things to do on Maui in winter: Front Street Town Party signFriday Night Town Parties (pictured): If it’s Friday, there’s a party on Maui! The Town Parties (sponsored by Maui County) take place four Friday evenings a month in different towns across the island. The town parties are great fun for both visitors and residents, with local food, entertainment, and vendors. More Details.

First Friday of the month — Wailuku Town Party (Central Maui) 
Second Friday — Lahaina Town Party (West Maui)
Third Friday — Makawao Town Party (Upcountry)
Fourth Friday – Kihei Town Party (South Maui)

Free Entertainment: When you are here, make sure you check for entertainment and events at nearby hotels and resorts, as well as island shopping centers, which often offer free hula shows, activities like lei making and ukulele lessons, and live Hawaiian entertainment. And check out my list of 25 Free Things To Do on Maui for other suggestions.

Grassroots Festivals and Fundraisers: Don’t be shy to buy a ticket and attend local school, church, and charity fundraisers, bazaars, and festivals. These events are a great way for visitors to experience an authentic local gathering, and the organizers will love to have you there. There is always plenty of local food (eating is a priority here on Maui!) and entertainment, and often there are fundraising auctions (silent and live) where you can snag great deals on visitor activities like boat tours, golf, dining, and helicopter rides.

The Maui News: The “Maui Scene” section in the Thursday issue of the daily Maui News is a great resource for what’s happening on the island each week, as well as current special offers from activities and restaurants. Pick up a copy of the Thursday Maui News when you’re here!

Live Webcams: When you are here planning your day on Maui, check out these webcams to view current weather conditions around the island. It’s not unusual for it to be overcast or rainy in one area but clear and sunny just a few minutes away!

Maui Arts & Cultural Center: This is another excellent resource you should check for upcoming events and performances on Maui, from world-famous celebrities and musicians to symphonies and ballet to local Hawaiian cultural programs and festivals. The Maui Arts & Cultural Center is located in Kahului.

Things to do on Maui in winter: Maui Arts and Cultural Center at night


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Happy Travels!

Candy Aluli, Publisher


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