With beautiful weather and a roster of holiday events, Thanksgiving is a fantastic time to visit Hawaii. Although the Hawaiian locals celebrate with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and tree-lighting ceremony leading up to the holiday season, there are also plenty of beach-themed holiday activities to make your Thanksgiving feel a little more tropical this year. This tends to be a busy travel season with many people flying home, so book your flights and hotels as far in advance as you can and make your dinner reservations ahead of time.
Most restaurants in Honolulu are still closed in 2020 and other Thanksgiving events may be postponed or canceled, so be sure to check the official organizer's websites for the latest details.
Thanksgiving dinner at the luxurious Sheraton Waikiki typically features a sumptuous buffet with a variety of selections including a carving station with slow-roasted prime rib, butterball turkey, and country ham, plus holiday favorites like mashed potatoes and steamed broccolini. You can also enjoy a huge selection of local items like ahi poke, Hawaiian style oxtail soup, and clams. With the open-air dining room, you can take in the views and the sounds of Waikiki Beach while enjoying this unforgettable Thanksgiving meal.
In 2020, the Kai Market is temporarily closed.
Chef Shaymus Alwin typically presents a specially designed dinner on Thanksgiving at the Azure Restaurant, located at the Royal Hawaiian Resort in Waikiki. Although the price for dinner can be quite steep, you'll enjoy a decadent four-course meal of a fall salad, poached lobster, roasted turkey breast, and kabocha squash confit to finish it off. The ambiance is perfect for a romantic Thanksgiving meal at this iconic hotel, with candlelit tables, plush seating, and the majestic backdrop of Waikiki Beach at sunset.
In 2020, Azure at the Royal Hawaiian is still closed temporarily.
More than 400 island vendors typically offer their island and holiday crafts at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall the weekend after Thanksgiving. This is one of Hawaii's largest and best-attended craft fairs with more than 30,000 people expected to attend. Some of the crafts include hand-blown glass, clay pottery, feather accessories, Polynesian carved pendants, and more. There is also live music entertainment from local performers to enjoy as you peruse the various vendors.
The expo has not been rescheduled for 2020.
The Beachhouse typically offers an extraordinary Thanksgiving dinner spread every year at the Moana Surfrider hotel, which is a National Historic Place. Here, the 19th-century architecture paired with the pristine views of Waikiki Beach is one-of-a-kind in Oahu. Past dinners have featured a carving station with prime rib, roast turkey, and a whole suckling pig as well as main courses including steamed snow crab, Kiawe smoked ham, Kona lobster pasta with truffle cheese, and a seafood clam bake.
In 2020, the Beachhouse is still temporarily closed.
The Waikiki Holiday Parade commemorates Pearl Harbor by honoring survivors and veterans in memory of the attacks. Thousands of people gather in Waikiki the day after Thanksgiving to witness or be a part of this event, that not only memorializes an important part of U.S. history but also celebrates Polynesian culture. The parade includes bands from the island and the mainland, Hawaiian dancers, Pearl Harbor survivors, military members, and more. It usually starts at 7 p.m. at Saratoga Road and Kalakaua Avenue and continues on to the end at Queen Kapiolani Park.
The parade has been canceled for 2020 but is scheduled to take place on November 26, 2021, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Attacks on Pearl Harbor.
On Thanksgiving Day, Turkey Trots are happening in cities all across the country, and that isn't limited to the mainland. The race in Honolulu typically begins at Queen Kapiolani Park in Waikiki, and there are options to run (or fun run) two, four, or eight miles. Before filling your belly later in the day, consider burning a few calories in advance at this active morning event to work up your appetite.
In 2020, the annual Turkey Trot will take place virtually with each runner free to the race on their own time between November 1 and December 12.