Is Maui in December a Good Time to Go? (plus the cost for a family of 4)

by | Apr 6, 2020 | Get Started, Maui, Planning, Things to Do

You may be hesitant to visit Maui in December due to the cost and December is one of the wettest months for Maui. But Maui’s warm temperature, sunny days, and the start of the whale season make it one of the best Hawaiian islands to visit in December. 

Here we’ll share everything you need to know about visiting Maui in December: the weather, the crowds, the cost, holiday festivities, and some of the best things you don’t want to miss.

 

Maui in December: Is December a Good Time to Go?

To escape the winter, Maui is a great place to spend your December. The weather on Maui in December is one of the best in the Hawaiian islands and the world. Maui’s downfall is the cost. A December vacation gets pricey.

Maui is already the most expensive Hawaiian island to visit during the year. Rental car rates and hotel rates hit their peak in December. One must book early and be ready to shell out some cash.

But that doesn’t mean you should cross Maui off your vacation list. Besides the great weather in December, December is the start of the whale season! No other island gives you the opportunity to see flying humpback whales for the holidays like Maui.

The tourist industry in Hawaii has been turned upside down with COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home order that started in March. Prices and visitor data below are based on 2019 but that will change for December 2020. You may be able to find some good deals for traveling to Hawaii. Stay up to date on safety in Hawaii with COVID-19 with our article: Is It Safe to Go to Hawaii Right Now? Hawaii Life with Coronavirus.

 

Maui in December: Reasons to Go

✅ Pleasant tropical weather, not as hot as the summer months

✅ Start of the whale season!

✅ The ocean is a perfect 77 degrees for swimming

✅ Maui Christmas has decorated palm trees, Santa, and the aloha is dialed up

✅ Maui has more sunshine hours than any other Hawaiian island in December

✅ Not too busy. December is the 4th busiest month for Maui. 

 

Maui in December: Reasons to Find Another Hawaiian island

❌ Expensive. Maui’s already expensive accommodations spike in December.

❌ December and January are the wettest months on Maui

❌ Rental car rates are the highest of any Hawaiian island on Maui in December

 

Maui in December sunset

A December sunset from the West Maui coast.

 

Maui for Christmas

Christmas on Maui floods my mind with warm memories. The Lahaina Christmas parade, surfing on Christmas day, palm trees twinkling, and our son running around the grass with his tank top on in December. Those are some of the reasons why I love Maui in December.

A Christmas on Maui is far different than my white Christmases in Northern Michigan where I grew up. The weather, obviously, but also Christmas with aloha melds traditions in a way that just feels right.

The small-town atmosphere on Maui makes Christmas a joyful and festive time of year. The whole month of December is full of Christmas activities so don’t feel obligated to go over Christmas break to get a taste of Mele Kalikimaka. 

 

Is Maui Expensive in December?

It ain’t cheap. If you are looking for a hotel room, December is the most expensive month of the year. The average daily hotel rate was $540 in December 2019, which is 36% higher than the yearly average. In the four-star resort area of Wailea, the average rate was $890. Ouch. (Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority)

Hotel Rates Maui in December

Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority Infrastructure Report 

 

You’ll find better deals by booking a vacation rental in December. December is the 3rd most expensive month for vacation rental rates. At $278 per night for a vacation rental in December, only January and February are more expensive. But that is a big saving compared to a hotel room.

Vacation Rental Rates in Maui in December

Source: Hawaii Tourism Authority Infrastructure Report 

Rental car rates also go up in December. While the very busy Christmas holiday period, late December to New Year’s, inflates the average, you should still expect to pay higher than average rates. 

Local Tip: Book your rental car early and call to confirm your booking before you depart. Rental car companies can run out of cars close to Christmas so make sure your reservation is rock-solid.

For this cost, I looked at three major car rental comparison websites. We always use Discount Hawaii Car Rental because we save so much every time. We used them during our Christmas trip to the Big Island last year and the savings were similar to what the table shows below. 

Maui in December Rental Car Rates

 

Flights also go up as they do across America during the December holiday period. If you are looking to save money on your December in Maui vacation, I recommend the following three tips.

🍍 Book early, like more than 6-months in advance

🍍 Sign up for deal notifications via Hawaii’s budget carriers: Southwest, Alaskan Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines

🍍 Follow our 5 Insider’s Tips to Getting a Cheap Ticket to Hawaii

 

All in for Maui in December will cost you over $10,000 for a family of four staying for 10-days. The below chart is the estimated Hawaii vacation in late December for airfare, hotel, and rental car. Throw in food and activities and you have a trip of a lifetime to Maui in December!

 

Family of 4 Vacation Cost to Maui in December

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Maui Weather in December: What’s Maui Like

Maui is absolutely fabulous in December. I have a hard time handling the Maui heat on the westside (Lahaina and Ka’anapali area) during the summer when temperatures are in the 90s and humid. 

Maui will greet you off the plane with a cool breeze and days in the mid-70s. The ocean will be a warm 77 degrees Fahrenheit and you can expect over 7 hours of sunshine a day on average. That’s non-cloud sunny time.

Maui in December Kanapali average temperature

 

December Maui Average Temperature Kihei Wailea

Staying in Wailea, Ka’anapali, or Hana in December means nice weather. 

The only downside of December weather is a higher chance of rain compared to other months. December is the wettest month on Maui. South Maui with Wailea and Kihei is the dryest area in December so consider staying in that area to have the best chance of avoiding the rain. 

Maui in December Rainfall Data by Month

 

Compared to the other Hawaiian islands in December, Maui stacks up well. Only the Kailua-Kona area on the island of Hawai’i has warmer weather and less rainfall than Maui in December.

Maui in December Weather vs Hawaiian Islands

Maui in December Weather

Erica and I went kayak snorkeling off Olowalu reef in mid-December. The weather and visibility were perfect for our adventure.

 

How Busy is Maui in December?

December is not the busiest time to visit Maui. It is the 4th busiest month with 8% more visitors than the average of 254,000 visitors a month. 

If you want to avoid the crowds in December, go soon after Thanksgiving. The month starts off quiet and then picks up speed as Christmas approaches.

If you are coming after mid-December, I recommend you book activities and your favorite restaurants before you arrive. The two most popular luaus will require reservations 3 to 4 weeks in advance. December isn’t so busy that the beaches will be crowded. Maui isn’t Waikiki.

As you can see from the data below, December isn’t the busiest month but it is still above average. Maui is well equipped to handle a lot of visitors so as a local, we don’t feel December is crowded. 

Maui Visitor Statistics December

 

 

Things to Do on Maui in December

You can do all of the most popular activities on Maui every month of the year. But there are some that are extra special in December.

🍍 Whale Watching: Mid-December is the official start of whale season but whales are sighted as early as late October. Hop on a whale watching tour or watch them from shore. Check out our Guide to Whale Watching on Maui on choosing the best tour for you.

🍍 PGA Tour Tournament of Champions: The Plantation Golf Course in Kapalua (North West Maui) is home to the season opener of the PGA tour. Come watch some of the world’s top golfers.

🍍 Annual Chinese New Year’s Festival: Maui is a melting pot of the Pacific. The Maui Mall and the Wo Hing Museum in Lahaina features a Chinese New Year celebration. Watch dragons dance, martial art performances, and music. 

Christmas Festivities

Lahaina is the informal center of Christmas fun in December. The Polar Express Train (aka, The Sugar Cane Train) won’t be running in 2020 but there are still plenty of other things to do and see in December on Maui.

🍍 Banyan Tree Court: Come see the largest banyan tree in Hawaii (16-trunks and 1.8 acres in size) be lit up with large Christmas bulbs. It will put a smile on your face.

🍍 Aloha Christmas Parade: Visit Lahaina for the annual Christmas parade down historic Front Street.

🍍 Christmas Hula and Mele Shows: Visit the Shops at Wailea, Whalers Village in Ka’anapali, The Cannery Mall in Lahaina, or Outlets of Maui in Lahaina for free Christmas hula dancing and caroling. These were our favorite shows to go to during the holidays.

🍍 Upcountry Tree Lighting: Head to MauiWine at Ulupalakua Ranch for their annual tree lighting. Bundle up so you can stay for the movie under the stars afterward.

 

Final Thoughts on Maui in December

Where do you stand on Maui in December? The facts have been presented. Where do you want to spend your December vacation? 

For me, Maui in December is okay. Christmas is by far my favorite part of going to Maui in December. Plus the weather is great as it isn’t as hot as summer and the crowds have thinned a bit.

But you have a higher chance of getting rained on and your wallet will feel it more than any other month in Maui. If money is no object or less of a concern than Maui is a wonderful place to visit in December. 

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Jordan Fromholz

Jordan Fromholz

Author

I'm the co-founder, with my wife Erica, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I have a thing for photographing pineapples and learning to surf.

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