The 100% Hawaiian frozen treat has become an iconic part of life in the islands. It’s a simple recipe – super finely shaved ice, drizzled with a selection of rainbow-colored syrups. And don’t forget, it’s shave ice (no ‘d’ required)!
Shave ice can be traced back to the original Japanese immigrants who arrived in the Islands to work on the sugar and pineapple plantations in the mid-1800s. They would shave flakes off large blocks of ice and then coat the ice with sugar or fruit juice (shaved ice became shave ice in pidgin).
Eventually shave ice was sold in general stores, including one of the first shave ice stores, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, which opened in 1951.
What makes Hawaiian shave ice so distinctive? Unlike it’s mainland equivalent – snow cones – shave ice is made with finely shaved ice, not crushed ice. This makes for a light, almost snow-like powder, perfect for dousing with syrups! From there the ice is shaped into either a cup or a cone, and drizzled with syrup.
Shave ice can also be upgraded with plenty of toppings or extras. These can include, Azuki beans (a red bean and sugar mixture) placed in the bottom of the cup, a scoop of ice cream in the center of the shave ice, mochi balls, fresh fruit or even a topping of sweetened condensed milk.
Where to go on the Big Island
1. Original Big Island Shave Ice
69-250 Waikoloa Beach Drive, Waikoloa, HI
Tuesday – Sunday 11:30am – 6:30pm
Original Big Island Shave Ice Co. takes pride in serving some of the best shave ice on the island since 1957. They use homemade natural syrup recipes and also have a selection of delicious, local-favorite toppings.
2. Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice
61-3665 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kawaihae Shopping Ctr, Kamuela, HI
11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Located in the northern part of the island, Anuenue Ice Cream & Shave Ice has been voted best shave ice on the Big Island for five years in a row. This little store has a great selection of flavors.
3. Scandinavian Shave Ice
75-5699 Alii Dr, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, on the corner of Alii Dr. and Likana Lane.
Open Monday – Saturday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sundays 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
Known as Scandi to the locals, this iconic store has been serving shave ice since the early 90s. Choose from 65 flavors, ice cream or frozen yoghurt in the middle (ice cream is our favorite!) and enjoy your shave ice as you stroll along the picturesque waterfront.
4. Kula Shave Ice
57 Mamo St, Hilo, HI 96720
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Kula Shave Ice serves the best shave ice in Hilo, with syrups made in-house from scratch, using the highest quality ingredients and plenty of love and aloha. They also serve organic cold brew coffee, tea, açaí bowls, ice cream, and Waipio Valley Poi!
5. One Aloha Shave Ice
75-5711 Kuakini Hwy Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740
11:00 am- 6:30 pm
Open since 2015, One Aloha Shave Ice make homemade shave ice syrups lightly sweetened with certified organic cane sugar and organic and local no spray fruits. Voted Best of West Hawaii for 2016 and 2017!