Local Hawai‘i Eating, Family-Style: Scavenger Hunt Shrimp Boil

The prize at the end of an around-the-island adventure is an all-local, eat-with-your-hands supper.


Hawaii Shrimp Boil On The Table Photo Laura Dornbush

The reward from our road trip. Photo: Laura Dornbush


My 4-year-old son, Duke, has never been to the North Shore of O‘ahu, despite living in Honolulu his entire life. The reason: He’s a terror in the car. Whether it be from boredom or too much pent-up energy, he acts up and is downright unpleasant when strapped in his car seat. But, on a sunny summer Sunday, my husband and I felt unusually brave and decided to go holoholo as a family.


To make it entertaining for Duke, we dreamed-up a scavenger hunt game where we would search along the way to collect all the ingredients we would need for dinner. Bonus: I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store! With Kahuku corn and fresh Kualoa shrimp in-season, it was a no-brainer to make our family’s shrimp boil recipe. My mother-in-law hails from New Orleans and hooked me on this easy way to feed a crowd when I got married.


See also: ⭐ Keiki in the Kitchen: Three Great Starfruit Recipes from a Hawaiʻi Chef


After packing snacks, water and toys, we loaded into my SUV and hit the road. Driving over the Likelike Highway with its lush foliage and dark tunnel made us feel like we were on a true adventure. Duke yelled, “feet up,” as we entered the tunnel (a silly habit he learned from his grandmother). So far, so good – no whining yet from the back seat.


Hawaii Shrimp Boil Kualoa Ranch Photo Laura Dornbush

Visiting the dinosaur. Photo: Laura Dornbush.


Our first stop was the KualoaGrown Market at Kualoa Ranch, an outpost on the stunningly beautiful property dedicated to selling and showcasing O‘ahu produce, protein and products from the ranch and its local agricultural partners. We scored a pound of frozen Kualoa shrimp, which is raised just down the road, and Kualoa Ranch andouille sausage. Of course, we couldn’t leave without Duke saying “hi” to the dinosaur statues (this is, of course, where Jurassic Park was filmed), farm animals and horses.


See also:🐣 5 Places Where You Can Meet Baby Animals This Spring in Honolulu


Hawaii Shrimp Boil Kahuku Corn Photo Laura Dornbush

Photo: Laura Dornbush


Loaded back in the car we continued up the Windward Coast, to our next stop: Kahuku. We were on the hunt for corn. We quickly pulled to the side of the road when we saw the sign “Kahuku Super Sweet Corn” to purchase a bag of freshly picked corn; turns out it was grown just mauka of this quaint roadside stand. Check! Check! Check! With all the key ingredients for the recipe, we continued to Hale‘iwa for lunch, and then headed back to town.


Back at home, after well-earned afternoon naps, we inspected the swag we had collected and started cooking. Duke helped me shuck the corn but got frustrated when the corn silk stuck to his hands. And there was no way I could coax him to help me clean the shrimp. Their heads and antennae were still attached, and he backed away with a horrified face. I’d still call it a win for exposing him to new foods.


Hawaii Shrimp Boil Pot Photo Laura Dornbush

Photo: Laura Dornbush


The best part about a shrimp boil is that it is cooked in one pot and poured out on the table to be eaten with your hands. Less mess, fewer dishes, more fun! So when our shrimp turned pink and the corn was tender, I poured it out onto our paper-lined outdoor table and we all dug in! Duke opted to dip everything in ketchup while the adults chose hot sauce and melted butter as their condiments of choice. Warning: It’s messy, so have wet wipes handy! The verdict: We’ve had shrimp boil many times over the years, but the local ingredients bumped up the flavor and freshness to another level!


KualoaGrown is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Highway, Kāneʻohe, kualoa.com/kualoagrown. You can also get local potatoes, shrimp and corn delivered to you through online delivery services including Farmlink Hawai‘i and O‘ahu Fresh.


See also: 🥕 Can We Ever Eat All Local in Hawai‘i?


Hawaii Shrimp Boil Eating Photo Laura Dornbush

Photo: Laura Dornbush


Circle Island Shrimp Boil

Serves 4


  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered
  • ½ cup Creole seasoning (or Old Bay Seasoning)
  • 1 pound baby potatoes. You can get local potatoes from Mahi Pono and Twin Bridge Farms in stores or through online delivery services.
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced in 2-inch pieces
  • 4 ears of corn, husked and cut in half
  • 1 pound shrimp, deveined, shell-on



1.       Fill an 8-quart stockpot half full of water. Add lemon, garlic, onion and seasoning. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

2.       Add the potatoes and sausage to the pot and cook for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

3.       Add the corn and cook 5 minutes more.

4.       Add the shrimp and cook until shrimp curl and turn pink, which should be just a few minutes.

5.       Drain the water out of the pot.

6.       Pour the shrimp boil out onto a paper-lined table. Serve with melted butter for dipping, hot sauce and lemon wedges. Eat with your hands!