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.
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?
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.
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.
- 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 not necessarily orange or yellow. Many are greenish black. Look past the color and the skin appearance you expect. Inside they are delicious.
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.)
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, 2022. 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)
- What: 2022 Fall Harvest Festival
- When: Tuesday-Sunday, October 1 – November 20, 2022. Hours: 1pm-4pm.
- Admission: GA (age 3+) $12.84, Kamaʻāina/Military $10.84.
- More info: Fall Harvest 2022 — Waimanalo Country Farms
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 20th Pumpkin Festival
- When: October 15-16, 22-23, & 29-30, 2022. Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
- Admission: $5.00 (age 3+). FREE Parking.
- More info: Aloun Farms 20th Pumpkin Festival
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.
- October 22, 2022: Pumpkin Festival. Unlimited kiddie games, ‘ono Fine Time Shave Ice, pumpkin patch, scavenger hunt, country store with featured plants, baked goods and more yummy food. Tickets are required for entry: $30/pp (age 3+).
- October 21-22, 2022: Flick-or-Treat Drive-In Movies on Osco Field. Wear your costumes, eat ‘ono snacks, and enjoy a movie under the stars! Tickets are required for entry: $40/car.
- 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.