Maui, Hawaii

Tag: Maui Christmas

Maui for Christmas

Christmas is the busiest time of year here, with many visitors choosing to come to Maui for Christmas.

Here are some tips when planning your Christmas vacation.

Book your condo early.

Did you know, three of our five condos are already booked for Christmas next year? Don’t despair – many condos on Maui still available for December 2020. However, the planners plan, and in order to have good selection to choose from, start the process about 9-12 months in advance. DO check the cancellation policy and do purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Book your rental car early.

Seriously? Yes. Car rental agencies on Maui always run out of cars late December/early January. This is despite the fact that they ship in extra cars (you can often see them lined up in fields near the airport). Do not plan on ‘just getting a rental at the airport’ this time of year as you may end up out of luck. This happened to our Palms at Wailea guests a number of Christmases ago.

Rental car rates do fluctuate wildly throughout the year. Book something now and then check back regularly to see if you can get a better price (see this blog post for details. It’s from 2015 but the principles still apply).

Line up your flights.

I’m not sure when the best time to buy flights is as we never travel over Christmas. However, from what I’ve been told, airlines usually release seats about 300-330 days in advance. I have seen airlines have seat sales closer to peak times (though I don’t remember noticing Christmas seat sales). I often shake my head thinking there is no way people will find a hotel or condo last minute to match up with the good airline prices. You could take your chances and wait and see if there are last minute deals and hope you can line them up with your condo rental (condo rental dates are typically inflexible), but personally I’d not leave my flights up to chance. You could end up with a beautiful rental and very expensive last-minute flights to get to it.

Then, sit back, enjoy knowing you will be on Maui for Christmas next year, and enjoy this Christmas!

It’s a little different….

When we first moved to Maui over nine years ago, we were prepared for different. After all, Maui for Christmas is just going to be different from ‘freezing rain and cold for Christmas’ which we always had on the West Coast. I remember being in awe of poinsettias planted in outdoor flower beds. And palm tree trunks wrapped in Christmas lights. And a distinct lack of Christmas lights on homes (power is expensive at 35 c/kwh so many just don’t decorate with lights). And having to run our air-conditioning at Christmas.

I’ve gotten used to the lack of a white Christmas. In fact, I love sitting on our lanai for our traditional Christmas Eve pupus (appetizers), with the railing wrapped with Christmas lights.

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Planning for Christmas dinner

Our family loves Christmas. The kids look forward to their school break and of course presents. I do a lot of Christmas baking (I have to store it in my bedroom if I want to ensure it lasts more than a week – ha!), Sig does the Christmas shopping (and wrapping). I plan a Christmas dinner (usually turkey). And then of course there are all the other Christmas activities surrounding this time of year: Christmas concerts, parties, school events…. and tourists!

at a recent upcountry holiday event

Did you know, the holidays are the busiest time of year on Maui? The first two weeks of December are generally calm, and then all of a sudden – right around now – you go grocery shopping at Safeway and realize, it’s high season! Families of tourists shopping for groceries, many more cars on the road, difficulties turning left at intersections….

I’m not complaining. Visitors to our island are our bread and butter.

I thought for today’s blog post, I’d post some Christmas dinner ideas – on the off chance that you are here this Christmas (or planning for next year)…

Yes, some restaurants are open for Christmas dinner. They will mainly have buffet or pre-set menus to order from. If you plan to eat out, do make reservations NOW (many, though not all, use OpenTable for reservations).

If you can’t get a reservation (or prefer not to pay that kind of money), some grocery stores offer pre-made take-out dinners. Check with Whole Foods (Kahului) to preorder your meal. Unsure if local grocery stores (Safeway, Times or Foodland offer anything this year).

Guess what, if you are staying at one of our condos, you could also just plan to eat in. Throw something on the BBQ, or head to one of the beach parks for a sunset picnic (that would be my choice).

Our favorite restaurants in South Maui

Here are a few of our favorite restaurants. Note, almost everywhere on Maui lunches are significantly less expensive than dinner. And at lunch you can enjoy oceanviews which disappear after dark.

  • Gannon’s – lunch or happy hour with a view
  • Mulligans – Irish pub with a view
  • Maui Brewing Company – fun atmosphere
  • Nalu’s – I dream of their ahi tuna sandwich
  • Fabiani’s – I dream of their bakery case. However, also a great Italian restaurant
  • Pita Paradise – fresh fish
  • 5 Palms – amazing oceanfront setting

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Family style Christmas recitals on Maui

I love this time of year – getting together with friends and family, the lights, decorations and all the Christmas music, reliving memories. Yesterday we attended two family style Christmas recitals. I know – it seems like a little much, but both were held in really neat locations and we went to support family and friends.

Keawala’i Church in Makena

The first was a local piano teacher’s piano recital held at the historic Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena. If you have the opportunity to attend a church service or a concert at this church, do. This church was built in the mid-1800s (exact date unclear to me) out of coral and wood. Nowadays we know not to even step on the reef, but back then people sometimes used coral as a building material. The walls are a foot or more thick and white washed, and there are beautiful native wood floors. The church itself is quite plain, and yet just beautiful. Decorations consisted of two Christmas trees and poinsettias – plain but beautiful. Outside the church you can find a small cemetery (please be respectful) with a beautiful view of the ocean. Check here for an interesting history of the church.

This is an operating church and no, it is not open to visitors during non-service hours. If you stop by when it’s closed, just admire from the road.

The Grand Wailea Resort

In the evening we attended another concert in an entirely different setting, the Grand Wailea hotel lobby. A friend and his neighborhood ukulele band (mainly retirees) performed various Christmas and Hawaiian songs with a few other audience favorites thrown in. It was a family style Christmas concert – our friend is one of the higher ups at the Grand Wailea performing for his employees and friends, another employee danced hula to several of the songs. The band recruited members of the audience to play tambourin now and then. It was overall a lovely evening.

The setting in the Grand Wailea is of course beautiful. Totally different than at the church, the Grand Wailea hotel is one of the fancy hotels here in Wailea and decorated to the nines. If you have the opportunity, do wander through the hotel grounds. Check out the giant ginger bread chair in the lobby, the beautiful decorations and (my favorite) the more than 7 miles of Christmas lights wrapped around trees in the driveway.

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A few pre-Christmas happenings on Maui

I still remember my first Christmas here on Maui. Having lived with seasons all my life, I admit it was strange not having cold weather and snow in December. But eventually you get used to ‘no snow’, poinsettias growing in flower beds, fresh tree-ripened fruit year-round and year-round beach weather. And just because we don’t have miserable weather this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pre-Christmas spirit of things.

Christmas
my flower bed poinsettia

Here are a few pre-Christmas events you may enjoy

December 3 – Maui Pops Orchestra concert. 3pm at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center

December 9 – Lighting of the Ulupalakua Christmas Tree at Maui’s own upcountry winery – Maui Wine. 4:30-8:30pm. Enjoy family fun activities, live music, an outdoor movie (The Grinch) in the cool crisp air of Haleakala. They will also be hosting a wine tasting. On a side note, wine tastings are no longer complimentary at Maui Wine – however, I’m told the quality and servings have improved.

December 10 – 6th Annual Maui Mompreneur Showcase & Supply Drive – craft fair held 9am-2pm at the Maui Seaside Hotel ballroom. They will also be collecting school supplies for Kahului Elementary School which last week had a fire destroying five classrooms.

On Christmas Eve the Grand Wailea welcomes Santa as he arrives by outrigger canoe. Get your picture and treats 9-11am

If that’s too early, he also arrives on Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Kea Lani from 12-1pm on Christmas Eve.

A few other non-Christmas events

Whale Watching has begun – book a whale watch, or visit the Humpback Whale Sanctuary for information on how to spot whale activity right from the beach.

Maui Town Parties – every Friday check out a different town party. Wailuku (1st), Lahaina (2nd), Makawao (3rd), Kihei (4th) and Lanai (5th). Do check out the website for more information.

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Christmas Services in South Maui

Christmas services
Looking out the window at historic Keawalai Congregational Church in Makena

It is hard to believe we are just a few days from Christmas! This year has flown so quickly. For some, this is the one day of the year they will go to church. Here is my annual list of Christmas services in South Maui, should you be interested in attending church. Please check with the church for more information.

Calvary Chapel South Maui

  • Saturday, Dec 24th 5:30pm candlelight (at Lokelani Intermediate School)

Hope Chapel Maui

  • Friday, Dec 23rd 6pm & 8pm (candle light)
  • Saturday, Dec 24th 6pm & 8pm (candle light)
  • Sunday, Dec 25th 9am

Kealawai Congregational Church (limited seating and parking)

  • Saturday, Dec 24th 6:30pm candlelight, outdoors
  • Sunday, Dec 25th 7:30am, 10am

Keolahou Hawaiian Congregational Church (little green church in North Kihei, drive by, I’m sure they have signs about their services posted)

  • Saturday, Dec 24th – unknown
  • Sunday, Dec 25th – unknown

Kihei Baptist Church

  • Saturday, Dec 24th 6pm candlelight
  • Sunday, Dec 25th 10am

Kihei Lutheran Church

  • Saturday, Dec 24th 5:30pm 7 7pm
  • Sunday, Dec 25th 9am

St Theresa’s Roman Catholic Church

  • Saturday, Dec 24th 6pm, 9pm, midnight
  • Sunday, Dec 25th 7am, 9:30am

However you celebrate Christmas – we hope you have a wonderful day!

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Maui-Made Discoveries

This past weekend the Maui Chamber of Commerce hosted its 3rd Made in Maui County Festival. This was my second time going and let’s just say – it’s the perfect place to make Maui-made discoveries.

Picture a craft fair – without any of the made-in-China-or-elsewhere items. A REAL craft fair, the way they are supposed to be! It was awesome! This year there were more than 140 vendor booths featuring their products. The rule is that everything shown there had to be 51% or more value added in Maui County. That includes Molokai (they had ten booths or so) and Lanai (1 vendor). Finds included handmade cards, jewelry, hot sauce, coffee, clothing vendors, artists, a plant stand, alcohol, food, etc. etc.

My favorite discoveries this year?

Alohi Images

Maui-made discoveries
My friend Shelley with her Alohi Images cards
For the past few years I have been buying Alohi Images cards whenever I can find them. They are beautiful photographs of native plants and flowers. The problem is, these cards are hard to find. Imagine my surprise when it turns out I actually know the owner/photographer! Yes, I stocked up on Christmas cards. And, now I know that I can find her anytime! As for you, check out her website. Shelley tells me that her cards are now being sold at 5 Hallmark stores in the Hawaiian Islands.

Maui Fruit Jewels

Maui-made discoveries
These fruit jewels are so pretty and delicious
I had read about these in the Maui New last spring. Gourmet fruit gummies for adults – okay, so they are okay for kids too, but not shaped like gummy bears. They have all local flavors – lilikoi, papaya, pineapple pepper (that one has a little bit of kick), Maui Wine (think wine jelly)… I forgot to ask where you can get them locally, so let me know if you find them (check out their online shop).

Made in Maui County Marketplace

Did you miss this year’s festival? Looking for more Maui-made discoveries? Many of these vendors are featured on the Made in Maui County Marketplace, a website connecting you to the different vendors. Check them out! Mahalo for supporting local small businesses.

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Winter and Christmas bookings!

winterDid you know? We still have some winter and even Christmas dates available! Yes, I know some of you have been complaining that there’s not much availability this winter. One of our longer bookings had to cancel, and that has opened the schedule up some.

Here is what we currently have available:

Maui Kamaole I-103: starting December 16-January 25. This condo is being shut down for renovations mid-August. Expect to see pictures of the kitchen and bathroom remodel by late September!

Kihei Surfside 405: from December 16-January 10. The oceanview at this condo is amazing. Upscale and romantic, this condo sleeps only two people.

Sugar Beach 104 condo: December 2-27. This budget-friendly condo is on quiet Sugar Beach in North Kihei, away from the busy throng of tourists. This is a family-friendly resort with a great ocean-front saltwater pool.

Our minimum stay requirement is 4 days. However over Christmas we do require a longer stay with absolutely no check-ins or check-outs between Christmas and New Years (this gives our cleaning lady some well-deserved time off).

Interested? Send me an inquiry or give me a call!

Please remember to book a rental car for your winter Maui trip. Rental agencies do run out of cars at Christmas.

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Where to find Christmas Eve Services in South Maui

tapa angel 2It’s almost time for a Maui Christmas! Our kids have been counting the days, and now we’re almost there!

There are a number of churches offering different styles of Christmas Eve services here in South Maui.

Calvary Chapel South Maui 5:30pm on the beach (call 874-9238 for details)

Hope Chapel Maui 4pm & 6pm (both with child care ages 6 months-6 years), candle light services at 8pm & 10pm

Keawala’i Congregational Church (Makena) 6:30pmtapa angel

Keolahou Hawaiian Congregational Church (North Kihei) – time unknown

Kihei Baptist Chapel candle light service at 6-7pm

Kihei Lutheran Church 4pm, 6pm & 8pm

St Theresa Roman Catholic Church 6pm, 9pm, midnight mass

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