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If you’ve ever driven to the North Shore of Oahu, I’m sure you’ve noticed the trucks sprinkled along the side of the highway, stretching from Haleiwa to Kualoa Ranch. Lunch trucks are some of the most popular (and only) places to eat on this stretch of country road, and more continue to take up residence along the Seven Mile Miracle, adding flavor into the mix.
But definitely the most sought-after version of these trucks is the shrimp trucks. Now famous and exclusive to Oahu’s North Shore, a few of these mobile eateries have been featured on shows such as Man vs. Food, the Travel Channel and the Cooking Channel. Visitors to Oahu seek out the shrimp truck experience and will oftentimes hit up a few of them along their North Shore journey, just to sample the gamut.
Bruce gathered a group of fellow shrimp lovers to hop from truck to truck and taste the variety of flavors each one had to offer. While the most popular is undeniably the ‘garlic shrimp,’ many of the trucks have signature flavors like pineapple, western BBQ and coconut. The team decided their favorite was Macky’s, one of the few shrimp trucks located in the heart of Haleiwa Town, but there were many other noteworthy mentions as well. Here is a video that Bruce made of his “Hawaii Shrimp Truck Trek.”
And if you’re planning a tour to the North Shore of Oahu, then here’s a quick little guide plus some other notable ‘along the way’ stops to (or from) your starting point.
If traveling around the island from the east side, the first shrimp truck stop is the yellow Shrimp Shack. With pan-fried garlic shrimp, this is one of the only trucks that offer dipping sauce alongside their shrimp. There is also a small market directly next door, so it’s a good time to grab waters, snacks or other drinks. You will have passed Kualoa Ranch, Chinaman’s hat and the Mac Nut Farm already, but if these landmarks interest you I recommend stopping beforehand.
Cruising along the highway heading north, you’ll also come across Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp, Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp and a few other open-air eateries sprinkled in there. Famous Kahuku has about fifteen different items on their menu including their signature hot & spicy version and western BBQ shrimp. Fumi’s has a great lemon pepper shrimp dish and Romy’s is known for their savory butter and garlic shrimp.
If you’ve reached these trucks then you’ve rounded Laie, so continue on and you’ll pass an outdoor fresh fruit market right by Turtle Bay Resort. You can find a whole assortment of tropical fruits and vegetables here, and they have delicious fried bananas for sale, cooked up right there on site. The vendors are quiet yet friendly, and this is a great place to stop, if even for a little bit of local culture.
Cruising past Sunset Beach and beyond, you’ll notice a handful of other lunch trucks. While they don’t specialize in shrimp, many of them serve it, such as the Peruvian truck called Nikkei. You can also find a vegetarian truck called Beet Box (the purple one across from Pipeline area), an acai truck (next to Beet Box), an all-around great lunch spot truck (Pupukea Grill), a Thai truck (Elephant Beach Thai), a seafood truck, a pizza truck (Impossibles Pizza) and more.
It’s crazy to think the North Shore’s restaurants are made up mostly by these little mobile machines, but it sure adds to the charm and laid-back country feel of this part of Oahu. And once you hit Haleiwa Town, you can find plenty of sit-down restaurants including Mexican food, pasta, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Don’t forget to check out Waimea Valley, a beautiful oasis tucked away in the lush valleys of sacred Waimea. You can walk around the area and enjoy the gift shop and restaurant, or pay $15 to make the easy trek through the rainforest to the waterfall.
Once you actually reach Haleiwa, this is where you’ll find the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, which was actually the first truck to begin serving shrimp back in 1993, and is more or less credited as being the pioneer in the shrimp truck industry here on the North Shore. Giovanni’s is located in a small congregation of other trucks, but out of the 5 or so others doing business, only 2 actually specialize in shrimp. Giovanni’s is one and the other is Hawaii Ono. Hawaii Ono serves pineapple shrimp, caramelized garlic shrimp and other savory options. Further down you’ll find Macky’s, famous for their butter garlic shrimp, lemon shrimp and coconut shrimp.
But wait! There are just a few more stops before you leave the North Shore! You can find local pastries at Paalakai Bakery on the outskirts of Haleiwa, and then make your way through Waialua to North Shore Goodies for tropical flavored pancake mix, syrups and local honey. And be sure to check out the Waialua Sugar Mill for some awesome shave ice, coffee tours, incredible Hawaiian soaps and much more!
I’ll make the final stop Green World Farms, a large coffee shop with unique crafts and gifts to peruse. And of course a strong cup of coffee to get you out of the food coma and back to the hotel. Enjoy!