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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!
Hawaii Shave Ice History
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!
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!
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Best Oahu Hawaiian Shave Ice Spots
Matsumoto’s Shave Ice
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!
There’s a laundry list of great flavors to choose from including cotton candy, guava, honeydew, creamy coconut, and white cake.
Location: 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI – Phone (808) 637-4827
Open daily from 9am to 6pm – Check out more at MatsumotoShaveIce.com
Waiola Shave Ice
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.
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.
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!
NEW Kapahulu Location: 3111 Castle St, in Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchen 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
Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
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
Aoki’s Shave Ice
Ask the tourist who has the best shave ice on the North Shore and they will tell you Matsumoto’s, but ask the locals and they will tell you Aoki’s Shave Ice. Personally I think they both serve up a great shave ice experience that you will have you walking away with a colorful smile.
One thing is for certain, and that is there are no long lines at Aoki’s, as to long string of people lined up waiting at Matsumoto’s. Aoki’s started back in 1981, and while successful they took a break in 2013 when the building owner did not renew their lease.
Today you will find them relocated in a much better spot, directly across the street from Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. They have an inviting outdoor front deck leading up to the shave ice counter. It’s an oasis full of memorabilia signs, tropical plants, and tables with shade to sit and enjoy a mound of colorful tasty snow.
Aoki’s features an array of popular flavors along with some that they have crafted themselves. Order a classic Rainbow Shave Ice for a colorful selfie pic, or explore other fun flavor creations like the “Hawaiian Delight” or “Volcano”.
Most folks love to pick their own favorite flavors or explore new ones. Aoki’s create their own syrup flavors and adding new flavors to the menu board to choose from, including Coffee, Chocolate and Strawberry Cream.
Ask them what their most popular flavors are, and I’m sure they will include Guava, Lilikoi (Passion Fruit), and Lychee. All 3 flavors are locally grown fruits, and I’ll bet it makes up one of the best Hawaiian Shave Ice!
Monsarrat Shave Ice
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.
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!
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)
Make your own Hawaiian shaved 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
Other Onolicious Treats on Oahu
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.
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…!
Location: 933 Kapahulu, Honolulu, HI – Phone (808) 737-5591 Open 5:30 to 10pm Daily – Check out more…
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!
Location: 59-024 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa HI – Phone (808) 638-8207 Open 7am to 8pm Daily – Check out more at Tedsbakery.com