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There is something magical about celebrating the holidays on the Hawaiian Islands. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of Elvis’ Blue Hawaii song, or the melodies of Bing Crosbie’s Mele Kalikimaka, or the more recent feels from Netflix’s Operation Christmas Drop. Regardless of the why, the islands create tropical holiday traditions unlike anywhere else on earth. That is why we gathered our top five reasons to trade in snowmen for sandcastles this festive season.

  1. Hawaiian Cuisine
    • Throw out the traditions of the holiday ham and welcome in the beachside luau with a Kalua pig roast. The islanders celebrate the season with a decadent pig wrapped in banana tree leaves and buried in an underground oven to roast, which comes out moist and tender. The smokey pig is then served with island favorites such as sticky rice, poke, and halo-halo. Top it off with a mai tai or Ko’a Kea’s own coconut mojito, and you have a holiday feast made for a Hawaiian king.
  2. 'O Christmas Palm Trees
    • Real traditional holiday evergreens are an island rarity. Instead you will find swaying palm trees decorated in colorful lights. Unlike evergreens, these island palm trees are filled with thousands of lights painting the nights with colorful displays. Cue the warm ocean breezes and you have a tropical holiday vibe unlike any other.
  3. Ukulele Christmas carols and hula
    • The Christmas carol takes on a new energy in Hawaii with songs accompanied by a ukulele or guitar. These playful renditions embrace the island aloha and are punctuated by the traditional hula dance. Friends and families throughout the island can be found in their backyards or at local resorts singing along while wearing flowers in their hair and floral apparel.
  4. Santa gets a new sleigh
    • You will see Santa hats on the islands, but he will not be arriving in the skies with reindeer. In Hawaii, Santa appears on an outrigger canoe pulled by dolphins. Although it’s rare to see Santa’s dolphins in action, you will see Santa roaming the beaches with his Hawaiian-print swim trunks belting out his joyous – ho, ho, ho!
  5. (Hawaiian) gay apparel
    • Throw out the cold winter jackets and coats and toss on a flowy floral dress or a traditional Hawaiian shirt. The islands warm December weather invite the perfect temperature for shorts, flip-flops, and warm-weather attire. Walks on the beach, anyone? Many Hawaiian retailers even create unique, seasonal prints to welcome in the holidays.
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