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. Here are our favorite spots near and around Poipu, Koloa, and Waimea for Hawaii’s signature cold treat.
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Featured photo: Courtesy of Uncle’s Shave Ice Kauai
The Fresh Shave
Fresh Shave names its hand-crafted syrups made from local organic ingredients after mustache styles—the Handle Bar, the Chevron and the Fu Manchu are a few favorites. All you have to do is decide what style “mustache” is your favorite! Open Monday through Saturday 12pm to 5pm. Closed Sunday.
Waikomo Shave Ice
Waikomo offers fresh fruit and cream toppings in addition to many great flavors. This is a healthy and refreshing dessert in your compostable cup. The utensils are eco-friendly as well—this is a plastic-free company. So enjoy the tasty treat and feel good about eating it too. Open Saturday through Thursday 12pm to 5pm. Closed Friday.
Longie's Shaved Ice and Treats
Even though they were established only more recently in 2021, Longie’s is a beloved shaved ice spot that will both keep you cool and satisfy your sweet tooth. The shaved ice is served atop decadent vanilla ice cream, giving the traditional treat a twist that will make sense as soon as you take a bite. If shaved ice isn’t your preference, they also sell other refreshing treats such as shakes and lemonade. hanapepe.org
Uncle's Shave Ice Kauai
This is one of two locations on Kauai, the other being in Lihue, and you’ll definitely want to get to one of them. There are many toppings available, so don’t hesitate to get creative with your order — request Azuki beans and ice cream, or even a sweet cream cap and fresh fruit. You’ll also have a plethora of flavor options, including the often traditional ones like cherry or blue Hawaiian, as well as more unique ones like birthday cake and gummy bear. uncleskauai.com