Eating Out

Hawaiian Shave Ice: Your Guide To This Tasty and Thirst-Obliterating Treat

As you’ve probably discovered, Hawai’i has a food scene all of its own. You’ll find dishes from all over the world on one plate (called “mixed plate”), fusion cuisine, and a high-end dining scene like no other. Hawai’i puts its own spin on everything served here, and one of our favorites is Shave Ice.

What is Shave Ice?

Shave ice is made of ice shaved from a large block into a snow-like texture (though locals will give you strange looks if you call it a “snow cone”).

Also, while it is ice, shaved from a block, locals call it shave ice (or ice shave in some places on the Big Island) – not shaved ice. It originated in Yokohama, Japan and made its way over to the islands during the Plantation era.

So, why are we a little obsessed?

In short, because it is delicious. But in case you want a little more information:

Usually, you can get multiple flavors (generally three, though some places might let you have a little more). Places that specialize in shave ice also have a full menu of flavor combinations that are particularly great.

Like all good desserts, you can add toppings and fillings: Azuki (red bean) paste, ice cream, li hing moi powder (note: this is a tinge sour and goes best with citrus flavors, and vanilla), and different kinds of condensed milk (each shave ice shop takes their condensed milk seriously, and often add ingredients to make it even better).

The people behind the counter have probably grown up eating shave ice and can give you great recommendations on flavor and topping/filling combinations. Try them all!

Enjoying Shave Ice from Lahaina, Maui

Helen enjoying Shave Ice from Front Street, Lahaina

Where are the best places to get it?

If you do a quick search in almost any area of the Islands, you’ll find recommendations for local favorites and the top-rated shave ice places.

On Maui, my favorites are Local Boys and ‘Ululani’s; you can find both of these on Front Street in Lahaina as well as Kihei. While you’re there, be sure to snap a photo of your colorful cone!


What’s your favorite shave ice place, flavor, or memory? Let us know in the comments!

Hawaiian Shave Ice

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3 thoughts on “Hawaiian Shave Ice: Your Guide To This Tasty and Thirst-Obliterating Treat

  1. Randy Schwartz says:

    I have many Shave Ice memories (first time sharing with your children or grandkids), but my best memory goes back a few years to when I retired. My last two “official” weeks of work were spent on vacation on Maui. At 5:00pm back home on my “last day”, my wife, son, daughter-in-law and I got up from the beach and walked over to the Ululani’s and celebrated with a variety of flavors.

  2. Jonathan says:

    What a fantastic memory! Thanks for sharing!

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