10 Unique Island Traditions for Celebrating the Holidays

Around the globe the holiday season is celebrated in many different ways. From Mochi pounding in Hawaii to glowing parols in the Philippines, this festive time year is great for traveling to the islands.

iceland-christmas-icelandic-ram-holidays.jpg
Elf Crossing, Iceland
Iceland takes their Christmas festivities very seriously — they even have 13 Santas. The first Santa appears 13 days before Christmas and then the others follow, one each day. After Christmas, they leave one by one for 13 more days. And on the twelfth night, January 6th, elves and trolls come down from the mountain to celebrate with the Icelanders.
visiticeland.com
Courtesy of Icelandic Ram Holidays
mochi-pounding-honouluweeklyl.jpg
Mochi Pounding, Big Island, Hawaii
At this Hawaiian festival, take your turn pounding sticky rice into mochi (traditional rice cakes) for good luck in the new year — and good eats. A hearty plate lunch follows soon after your hard work.
gohawaii.com
Return to Main Page
Courtesy of Honoulu Weekly
nantucketstroll.jpg
Christmas Stroll, Nantucket
Watch Santa arrive via a Coast Guard boat, then parade down Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. Festive storefronts and carolers get you in the spirit of the season.
nantucketchamber.org
Return to Main Page
Courtesy of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce
lord-howe-island-ep_stock.jpg
Rainforest Week, Lord Howe Island
Hike to the top of 2,870-foot Mount Gower on this Australian island to see native plants in bloom. Look for the Giant Heath, an endemic tree found only on the summit.
lordhoweisland.info
Return to Main Page
ep_stock
summer-in-new-zealand-jiri-foltyn.jpg
Islands Made for Walking, New Zealand
All you need to experience New Zealand this December is a good pair of walking shoes. Winter in the States means summer for the Kiwis. Hike the Te Araroa ("the long path" in Maori) from Cape Reinga on the North Island to Stirling Point on the South Island. The path is a project designed to connect the entire country in a public circuit of paved footpaths.
teararoa.org.nz
Return to Main Page
Jiri Foltyn
pampanga-lanterns.jpg
Parading Parols, Philippines
Share in the Philippines' display of Christmas spirit at the annual Giant Lantern Festival in the village of San Fernando, centrally located on the island of Luzon. The festival brings together skilled craftsmen and artists to design brightly colored, star-shaped parols (lanterns), each powered by up to 5,000 bulbs.
cityofsanfernando.gov.ph
Return to Main Page
saba-stefan-kuiper.jpg
Saba Day, Saba
Join the 1,500 residents on this tiny Caribbean island in dance contests, barbecues and a steel-drum concert at Fort Bay. It's a weekend — not just a day — when the island shuts down for celebration.
sabatourism.com
Return to Main Page
Stefan Kuiper
sanibel-shells-heather-renee.jpg
Shell for a Spell, Sanibel Island
Beginning in December, Gulf storms decorate Sanibel's 12 miles of beaches and the neighboring island parks with lightning whelks, dainty scotch bonnets, starfish, clams and patterned calico scallops. For optimum shelling, head out about an hour and a half before low tide after a new or full moon.
fortmyers-sanibel.com
Return to Main Page
Heather Renee
sullivans-cove-david-lade.jpg
December Summer, Tasmania
Get two for one at The Taste Festival, Hobart's Waterfront Celebration, where two events combine to form one super-fest. Food stalls line the streets, where food-theater presentations, ephemeral art displays and food-and-wine tours take place around historic Sullivans Cove.
tastefestival.com.au
Return to Main Page