In Waikiki, it’s Christmas with a distinctly Hawaiian flavor

The ukulele player is smoking hot and the mai tais are as smooth as summer surf.

It’s Christmastime in Honolulu and the crowd at the Chart House Waikiki is watching the sun set over Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and rockin’ out to strummed versions of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and “Mele Kalikimaka,” the Hawaiian merry Christmas song.

A woman in the crowd rises and dances a graceful hula to “White Christmas.”

If your idea of a winter wonderland includes stretching out on a tropical beach on an island, Honolulu may be the place for you.


This year, the island is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Honolulu City Lights, where huge holiday light displays and dozens of illuminated trees can be seen.

Among the displays erected at Honolulu Hale (Oahu’s historic city hall) are a 21-foot-tall shaka-flashing Santa and Mele Tutu (Mrs. Claus). (The shaka hand signal, three middle fingers folded down, is a common sight in Hawaii and usually means “hang loose.”)

Other displays at City Lights include carolers in Hawaiian shirts and snowmen with surfboards. A 50-foot-tall tree overlooks the setting.

The holiday takes on its own flavor across Oahu. The trees at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort are decorated with toddler-size flip-flops and tiny surfboards.


At the landmark Royal Hawaiian Hotel, nicknamed the Pink Palace, the trees bear pink orchids and poinsettias.

At the Royal Hawaiian Center, a shopping and dining area with more than 100 tenants, the 20-foot holiday tree is dressed in ukulele ornaments. Santa Marty visits during the holiday season dressed in a Hawaiian shirt.

Santa often comes to town through the surf. This month, he arrived at the Outrigger on a canoe. On Christmas Eve, he’s scheduled to arrive on Waikiki Beach, again by outrigger canoe, in front of the Halekulani Hotel.

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