Listed below are places selling Halloween carving pumpkins in Hawaiʻi, including farms and grocery stores. You can buy a pumpkin at least a month before you carve it, if you store in the refrigerator, or some other place that’s cool and dry (preferably below 60F). We include some history about why we carve pumpkins for Halloween and plenty of pumpkin carving ideas.
Origins of jack-o’-lanterns
We found the history of Halloween pumpkins, also known as “jack-o-lanterns” in an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. As the story goes, Jack was a drunkard and grifter who managed to cheat the Devil himself, not once but twice. Depending on who is telling the story, there can be other details about coins, trees, and crosses, but they’re not important to our story about the origin of Halloween pumpkins. When Jack finally died, quite understandably, he was barred him from entering heaven or—no surprise—also from hell (his bargains with the Devil kinda backfired). Instead, Jack was a hot ember and sent on his way. He placed the ember into a carved-out turnip and wanders earth to this day, with no final place to rest. Since then, “Jack-o’-lantern” has been used to describe any strange light over bogs, swamps, or marshes. In many tales, such a light typically recedes if approached, drawing people from a safe path to some unfortunate end.
In English folklore, the concept is known as a “will-o’-the-wisp.” The term comes from a bundle of sticks or paper—a “wisp” sometimes used as a quick way to light up the dark. In English tales, the subject of the same dark tale is often someone named Jack or “Will” (William) leading to the phrase “Will-of-the-torch”. In either case, these protagonists are doomed to haunt dark places with a beckoning light. People made “Jack’s lanterns” by carving scary faces into turnips, potatoes, or beets to place on windowsills or in doorways to frighten away evil spirits. This tradition was brought by immigrants to America, who found that native pumpkins were easy to carve and make the most splendid jack-o’-lanterns.
How to carve a pumpkin
Here are some simple instructions for carving a jack-o-lantern. We also provide links to many different jack-o-lantern templates.
- Cut off the top of the pumpkin to form a lid; be sure to cut at a 45-degree angle so the lid sits atop the pumpkin (rather than slip down inside it—a mistake I know from experience).
- Alternatively, many carvers recommend cutting the hold in the bottom of the pumpkin. Try it both ways and see which method you prefer.
- Scoop the pumpkin flesh and seeds out, using a small hack saw blade or thin serrated knife. (I found the inexpensive carving tools sold at Halloween time work amazingly well—I have an adorable “Snoopy” set!).
- The flesh is usually discarded from carving pumpkins because it is stringy and bland, though it is edible.
- The seeds can become a delicious snack—soak and rub to remove any flesh or fibers, rinse well and pat dry, sprinkle with salt or other seasonings, and roast at 250F-300F for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy.
- Cut out or carve to create an image in the rind.
- To create the lantern effect, place a light source inside, such as a tea light or votive candle, although an LED light is a safer choice.
Tips for making your carved pumpkins last longer
Carved pumpkins only last 3 days—MAYBE up to a week, if they don’t get wet and stay relatively cool and dry. To make it last longer, try these tips:
- How long a carved pumpkin lasts (mold is often the first sign of spoilage) depends on weather conditions, especially rain or humidity and temperature. So, avoid these conditions where possible.
- Buy smaller pumpkins rather than larger ones, as smaller squash tend to last longer.
- Rinse the rind of the pumpkin and then wipe the surface with white vinegar (or bleach) to discourage any spoilage organisms.
- Until you are ready to carve it, store the pumpkin in the refrigerator. You can buy your pumpkin up to several weeks ahead if you can keep it cool and dry (less than 60F).
- Don’t carve your pumpkin until one or two days before Halloween, three days before at most.
- After carving, you can also wipe the inside surface with white vinegar (or bleach).
- If you can, remove the lid and put your carved pumpkin in the refrigerator each day and put it out each night.
Pumpkin Carving Templates, Patterns & Stencils
- Etsy Hawaiian Pumpkin Carving Patterns
- HGTV Beginner Halloween Pumpkin-Carving Patterns
- StoneyKins 10,000 Pumpkin Carving Patterns and Stencils
- DLTK’s Crafts for Kids Pumpkin Carving Patterns
No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas
- RealSimple: Creative No-Carve Pumpkin Ideas That Are as Good as Any Jack-O’-Lantern
- BuzzFeed Nifty YouTube video: No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas
- Parenting Special Needs: Easy No-Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas
- Hawaiian Shave Ice: No Carve Pumpkin Ideas (they’re from NC and don’t know it’s called Shave Ice, but the ideas are cute)
Can I eat pumpkins I’ve used for decoration?
In short, no. Pumpkins grown for carving generally have thin walls and stringy fibers. What little flesh there is tastes bland. So, while they’re safe for consumption, they are not particularly good for eating.
Also, by the time Halloween has passed, a carved pumpkin often grows moldy in warm, humid Hawaiʻi weather. If you can, put your jack-o-lantern in a compost pile. (Yes, it’s okay to compost moldy food.)
If you want pumpkin for soups and stews, winter squash with wonderful pumpkin-y flavor include butternut, kabocha, red Kuri, and Hubbard. Some varieties are best roasted and/or stuffed, including acorn, carnival, delicata, and spaghetti squash. For pies, most cooks recommend sugar pumpkins.
However, many varieties common on the mainland come from cool-weather areas and are not suitable for growing in Hawaii’s tropical climate. Hawaiian heirloom/landrace varietals of kabocha squash are common here, but not necessarily orange or yellow. Many are greenish or grayish. Look past the color and the skin appearance you expect. Inside they are delicious. Kabocha are my favorite, followed by butternut in a distant second place.
Where to find Halloween carving pumpkins in Hawaiʻi
Farmers markets exist on every island in the Hawaiian pae ʻāina and can be a great place to find winter squash. However, you won’t find locally grown carving pumpkins since the varieties used for Halloween jack-o-lanterns don’t grow in warmer climates such as California and Hawai’i. However, you will find delicious greenish gray kabocha squashes that are delicious for eating.
Supermarkets will carry mainland-grown carving pumpkins, including local grocery stores: Foodland (Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu), Times Supermarket (Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu), Don Quijote (Oʻahu), and KTA Super Stores (Hawaiʻi), as well as national grocery chains like Safeway (Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu), Whole Foods (Maui, Oʻahu), and Costco (Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi, Maui, Oʻahu).
But there are a few places that grow pumpkins and squash that are fun to visit in October for some Halloween fun and pumpkin hunting.
Maui pumpkin patches and farm stands
Kula Country Farms (kulacountryfarmsmaui.com), 6240 Kula Highway, Kula, Hawaii 96790. Kula Farms in cool Upcountry Maui is known for strawberry U-pick (February-June), a fall pumpkin patch (Octboer), plus other local produce and fun farm-related events. You’ll find many kinds of pumpkins, in different sizes, colors, and varieties for carving jack-o-lanterns as well as pie pumpkins. They also have decorative gourds, sunflowers, a large selection of carving tools, and lots of fun stuff to accessorize your Halloween pumpkin.
- What: Pumpkin Patch & Farm Stand
- When: October 1-31. Hours: daily 9am to 4pm (Gates will close at 3:45pm).
- Admission: $5 (age 4+); free for those 3 & under.
- More info: Pumpkin Patch (kulacountryfarmsmaui.com)
Oʻahu pumpkin patches and farm stands
(Listed by start date)
Waimanalo Country Farms, 41-225 Lupe St, Waimanalo, HI 96795. Take a breath of fresh air in their pumpkin patch and sunflower fields. Snap memories at the photo op areas. Don’t forget to stop by the country market and grub stand for Dakota super sweet corn, fresh squeezed lemonade, honey, yummy cornbread, and so much more!
- What: Fall Harvest Festival
- When: Daily from October to mid-November. Weekday afternoons (Mon-Thu 1-4PM), weekends (Fri-Sun 9AM-4PM). Please do not visit the farm except during published event (it’s trespassing on private property).
- Admission: GA (age 3+) $12.84, Kamaʻāina/Military $10.84.
Aloun Farms Hawaii (alounfarms.com), 91-1440 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, Hawaii 96707. Bring the whole ʻohana and during the last 3 weekends of October. Aloun Farms will have Food and Craft Vendors, Free Hayrides, Keiki Activities, Family Entertainment, and a Farmers Market. The offer u-pick for harvesting your own Pumpkins, Corn, String Beans, and Sunflowers.
- What: Aloun Farms annual Pumpkin Festival
- When: Weekends in October. Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
- Admission: $5.00 (age 3+). FREE Parking.
Holy Nativity School, 5286 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96821. An unlikely venue, the School hosts the annual Great Pumpkin Festival on their four-acre campus. The family-friendly fundraiser showcases their beautiful East Honolulu campus, with a legendary pumpkin patch, keiki games, country store, nightly drive-in movies, and more.
- THE GREAT PUMPKIN FESTIVAL returns on Saturday, October 21nd ($30 per person): We’ll celebrate with unlimited kiddie games, our beloved pumpkin patch, shave ice from Fine Time Shave Ice, an epic petting zoo from Nalo Keiki Paniolo, special appearances by Frozen’s Anna + Elsa and Storybook Entertainment, a jamming silent disco with Hawaii Dance Bomb, bake sale, plant sale, ‘ono food, contests and so much more! Entry to the Great Pumpkin Craft Fair is included in the ticket price.
- FLICK-OR-TREAT DRIVE-IN MOVIES, October 20th – 21st ($40 per car): Our legendary Drive-In returns for ONE Weekend Only this year! Join us on Osco Field (on our Mauka Campus) for Halloween favorites! Wear your costumes, eat ‘ono snacks, and enjoy a movie under the stars! Tickets are required for entry.
- THE GREAT PUMPKIN CRAFT FAIR is BACK! October 21st ($5 per entry): We’re thrilled to welcome the Craft Fair back to our Festival weekend. Join us at our INDOOR craft fair, and help us kick off the holiday shopping season! Join Honolulu’s favorite crafters, makers + creators in the Holy Nativity School Gym.
- More info: The Great Pumpkin Festival – Holy Nativity School
Calendar of Halloween events
Listed below are many upcoming Halloween-related events including pumpkin patches, contests, trick or treat events, haunted houses, and more.