Having Hawaiian shave ice in Hawaii is like experiencing a cannoli in New York, or Sourdough Bread in San Francisco. It is as iconic as some of the best Honolulu attractions. No Oahu vacation is complete without indulging in this frozen Hawaii shave ice treat! Don't miss the best of Oahu spots, including Waiola Shave Ice, Shimazu Store, and the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice!
Whether you want to make some snow cones for the family, a party, or much larger events, there are some great
choices these days with the advancement in machinery that make this
treat...and here are a few worth considering:
Make your own shave ice party at home
Shave ice has carved its place on Oahu, and put smiles on faces since the 1940’s. It was a simple snow cone with basic flavors such as orange, lime, cherry, and grape.
We should give credit to the early Japanese grocery store establishment, and Hawaiian shave ice shops such as Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore and Waiola Shave Ice in Waikiki, who helped pioneer this treat, and created a desire and passion for what it is today!
They along with others have put smiles on millions of faces over the decades!
In the 80’s new tropical flavors surfaced such as mango, lilikoi (passion fruit), and guava.
Hawaiian shave ice became magical when a scoop of vanilla ice cream
was placed at the bottom of the cup before piling the snow on
top. As the sweet flavors drip there way down the cup and blended
with the ice cream, you can imagine the treat that awaits you!
Today Hawaii shave ice establishments continue to push the envelope with flavors & toppings, and create some of the most amazing creations Oahu has ever seen!
Spend 4 to 5 hours touring hole-in-the-wall eateries located just beyond Waikiki.
Visit some of Hawaii’s gems, and learn a little culinary history, while exploring the different cultures that make up our island. Taste local favorites like Spam Musubi, Ube, Poke, Malasadas, and island plate lunch hits!
These are small-group tours, to help keep the experience personalized, so make sure to sign up early if interested. Book Aloha Food Plate Tour Now!
We gotta give it up for the longest running North Shore Hawaiian shave ice shop. Motsomoto’s Shave Ice has been in business since 1951, and for many good reasons still in business!
When you arrive in Oahu, it’s a ritual to head to the North Shore and specifically stop at Matsumoto’s in Haleiwa to get your hands on a shave ice!
Be prepared to stand in a long line outside the door in the heat when you arrive…but it’s all part of the experience.
There’s a laundry list of great flavors to choose from including cotton candy, guava, honeydew, creamy coconut, and white cake.
Select your flavors carefully, because you can only choose up to 3! I’m still a sucker for mango, likikoi, and Pina Colada –yum!
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI - Phone (808) 637-4827
Open daily from 9am to 6pm - Check out more at MatsumotoShaveIce.com
Motsumoto’s might be king of the North Shore, but Waiola Shave Ice is the longest running establishment on the island, since 1940. Town side locals will swear you have to go no further than Waikiki to satisfy your craving!
Waiola Shave Ice has perfected the art of making this icy treat. Today there are 2 stores the upper Waikiki/Kamaki area to help tackle the lines. Adding sweat azuki beans or tapioca pearls with the vanilla ice cream to the bottom of the cones, pushes the envelope to greatness.
For under $3.00 you can get a pretty tall cone. Start adding fancy flavors such as Blue Hawaii, Green Tea, Creamsicle, POG, or Pineapple, will run you a whopping .25 cents a flavor.
Go crazy on the toppings such as snow caps, caramel, or Hershey Chocolate…each running you an extra .50 cents!
Don’t forget to sample the large display of Crack Seed inside the store. It’s hard to describe, other than seasoned dried fruit. It’s a local sweat and sour treat to suck on, so give it a try!
Location: 3113 Mokihana St., Honolulu HI (across from Safeway Grocery, off Kapahulu St) Phone: (808) 735-8886 - Check out more Waiola Shave Ice reviews
Open: 7:30 to 6pm weekdays, except opening at 10am on Sundays
Leave it to the hole in the wall operation, located in an undesirable location with no parking or seating, to possible serve the best Hawaiian shave ice on the island!
Kelvin Shimazu started his magical shave ice creations from a mobile cart in Mililani before moving his operation to town. Always smiling while putting his aloha touch to this mountain of snow.
Shimazu’s is known for their mountain size of light powdery snow and special flavors, such as Red Velvet Cake, Café Late, Lemon Drop, and don’t miss their Banana Fosters!
Add some incredible toppings such as Creamy Haupia (creamy coconut), Li Hing Powder, or dulce de leche that will put you over the edge!
There are other noteworthy treats in the store to discover, such as their special flavored popcorns.
They open up in the late afternoons and lines tend to be long, so have some patience and know that the reward is worth it!
Kapahulu Location: 3111 Castle St, in Hawaii's Favorite
Open daily 10am to 7pm, (808) 744-0465
Location: 330 North School
St, Kalihi HI, (808) 371-8899
Open daily 11am to 6pm, except closed on Mondays. Check out Shimazu's reviews
There are only a couple place on the island that specialize in fresh fruit Hawaiian shave ice creations, and Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha is one that does it really well.
So well that they compete with the top shave ice shops and continuously rank in top food polls. You can build your own creations, or choose one of their mastered creations.
I recommend their Strawberry Dream, Tropical Delight, The Classic Rainbow, and The Ultimate, which has a lot going on it it!
The Strawberry Dream is one of my favorites, as the strawberry puree blends nicely with the shaved ice and cream on top. Their Tropical Delight is also a treat, blending pineapple, guava and lilikoi (passion fruit) with vanilla ice cream.
If you’re a coconut fan, try the House of Pure Aloha Pina Colada that includes fresh pineapple, along with a thick coconut syrup and haupia (fresh coconut cream).
They are located in a strip mall in Aina Haina, which is located on the way to Hanauma Bay…could be the perfect treat after a day of snorkeling.
Open Fri - Mon from 10:30 AM to 7:45 PM and Tue - Thurs from 11 AM to 6:30 PM
820 W Hind Dr #116, Honolulu - Phone (808) 373-5111 Learn more at House of Pure Aloha
Monsarrat Shave Ice is not your typical Hawaiian Shave Ice. They use real organic fruit that helps create the magic in their syrups. The staff literary cakes the puree thick syrups onto the pile of shave ice.
It’s not as sweet as some of the other shops, and yet still is an amazing refreshing treat.
They have yummy flavors such as strawberry, mango, coconut, and green tea. Most popular is their pineapple and mix berry flavors!
You can order special toppings like azuki beans, kinako powder and mocha balls, but don’t miss out on adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
And unlike adding the scoop on the bottom of the cone or bowl, they scoop the ice cream on top! It looks beautiful and somehow it just works!
Monsarrat Shave Ice is not easy to find…even though it’s right on the strip! Keep your eyes peeled for the Pioneer Saloon, and you’ll find it next door with a small sign in a small charming alley.
It's not located far outside Waikiki and near Kapiolani Park.
Also check out the Pioneer Saloon that is also worthy of their plate lunches and eclectic finds being displayed around the room!
Location: 3046 Monsarrat Ave - Phone: (808) 732-4001
Open daily from 11 AM to 5 PM (closed if raining)
Fresh hot malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery is both a locals and tourists (the fortunate ones) favorite, and it just might top Hawaiian shave ice. “I can never get enough of these delicious hot malasadas” are commonly spoken words.
If you’re not familiar already, a malasada is a light fluffy Portuguese style donut dusted with sugar. They’re hard to resist when eaten fresh out of the fryer.
Today Leonard’s Bakery continues to evolve this magical treat, and offers incredible fillings such as chocolate haupia, guava, and mango.
If only they could find a way to combine the flavor of fresh malasada into a shave ice…!
Kapahulu, Honolulu, HI - Phone (808) 737-5591
Open 5:30 to 10pm Daily - Check out more...
Located on the North Shore and distributed in some local supermarkets are Ted’s Pies. Not to be confused with any usual dessert pie, but local tropical flavors with a punch!
If you’re headed to the North Shore (near Sunset Beach), it’s worth stopping by.
You can pick up a slice or go for a whole pie…not an easy decision! Haupia and Macadamia Nut are a two of many great flavors!
59-024 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI - Phone (808) 638-8207
Open 7am to 8pm Daily - Check out more at Tedsbakery.com