The snowy treat known as shave ice (not “shaved”) came to Hawaiʻi with Japanese and Okinawan immigrants who started working on the islands’ sugar plantations in the late 1860s. By the mid-20th century, the modern version with its rainbow of flavors and additions such as ice cream and “snowcaps” of sweetened condensed milk was typically found at humble Japanese-American grocery stores such as M. Matsumoto on Oahu’s North Shore. Today, expect even more flavors, gourmet natural syrups, options such as chewy mochi balls or sweet red adzuki beans and of course lines of visitors and locals at popular purveyors such as Matsumoto’s. Here are our favorite spots for Hawaii’s signature cold treat.
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Waikiki and Honolulu Shave Ice Map
Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
This isn’t just any old shave ice. Uncle Clay’s homemade syrups are made from all-natural ingredients like fresh Hawaiian fruits, fruit purees, and natural cane sugar. No artificial sweeteners or colors are used. Open daily 12pm to 6pm.
Lahaina Shave Ice
With over 25 different flavors to choose from and toppings that range from ice cream to boba balls and fresh fruit, Lahaina Shave Ice is worth the stop. It’s hard to miss the low-key location so make sure you search for their rainbow shave ice logo. Open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Waiola Shave Ice
Waiola Shave Ice is known for making azuki beans daily and custard pudding and mochi balls twice a week. Their syrups are homemade using sugar cane, some with natural flavors, and Waiola offers more than a thousand flavor combinations. Open every day but Tuesday, 10am to 6pm.