Hawaii is hot, like real hot sometimes. So, what better way to cool down than to have a bowl of frozen sweet shave ice? 😏
Hawaiian shave ice is very similar to Japanese styled shave ice because it was brought over to the islands by Japanese plantation labourers back in the days. It is softer and finer than the typical convenience store slushies or snowcaps. The flavoured syrups are usually more natural in my opinion, and obviously I love the Asian flavours like green tea and lilikoi and Asian toppings like red bean or mochi, so I may be biased about Hawaiian shave ice. But you really ought to try it yourself to taste the difference and brilliance of Hawaiian shave ice.
Matsumoto Shave Ice (Oahu)
During our trip on Oahu, Mastumoto Shave Ice was a MUST stop. It is on the list of every top shave ice post.
You can easily pinpoint the shop by following the long queue. And I thought the line was already long enough when we got there. The line was even longer after we left! At least, while you wait, you have plenty of time to make up your mind on the bijillion flavours and toppings.
They have a streamlined workflow, one person at each station, and it keeps the line moving, very smoothly. I was impressed and slightly mesmerized.
I chose green tea, yuzu and guava flavours plus mochi. B had strawberry, lemonade, and pineapple flavours. I loved all the flavours that I picked and the plain mochi balls were a nice chewy texture additions. After it melts a bit, it kind of loses its fineness. B’s strawberry flavour tastes like medicine to me🤔.
In my opinion, this was decent. But if we came back to Oahu after having tried Matsumoto already and if the line was any longer, I think it probably wouldn’t be worth it for us to wait.
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-111 Kamehameha Hwy Suite 605, Haleiwa, Hawaii
Small size (up to 3 flavours) – $3 USD
Large size (up to 3 flavours) – $3.50 USD
Mochi – add $1 USD
Island Snow (Oahu)
This was a shave ice place right near Kailua Bay. If you get too hot from snorkeling or kayaking or lazying on the beach, you can always stop by and chill with some shave ice.
Lots of flavours to choose from. It can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your decisiveness. There are classic flavours, and “all natural” flavours that cost a little extra because they’re locally grown.
They give you a free scoop of vanilla ice cream, which sits at the bottom of the cup. If you don’t like ice cream, you can opt out. I picked pink lemonade, matcha, and lilikoi as my three flavours. The ice was soft and velvety, it mixed very well with the rich ice cream.
Honestly, I liked this one more than Matsumoto. And the servers here were so sweet, they ask you about how your day was going. I guess they are more relaxed compared to the Matsumoto staffs, probably due to the significantly shorter queue. I’d return to try the other flavours and toppings.
130 Kailua Rd, Kailua, Hawaii
Large size – $5.25 USD
Island Vintage Shave Ice (Oahu)
During our last first trip to Hawaii, we went to Island Vintage Shave Ice on Honolulu. They have preset flavours and toppings choices that are easier for those undecided. Their shave ice were pretty good, just a tad too sweet for me compared to Matsumoto and Island Snow.
Island Cream Co. (Maui)
We actually came here originally for the local craft fair. Unfortunately, I’m stupid for not checking the time. When we arrived, most vendors were gone and the few left were packing their stuffs. Ah well, at least we get shave ice😁!
Aside from shave ice, they have a massive collection of gelato, ice cream and sorbet. They had two display fridges full of delicious flavours.
What’s special about them is that you get to play with their shave ice flavouring machine. I was overwhelmed by all the choices😵.
After they give you the ball of shave ice, you can go bananas with the flavours😝.
Actually, don’t go too crazy like I did. I guess I was having wayyyy too much fun with their flavouring machine, because in the end I was so confused of what I was tasting. The ice was not as smooth as the others I have tried, but their selling point for me was the hands-on experience with their flavouring machine.
Island Cream Co.
305 Keawe St – Suite 511, Lahaina, Hawaii
Small Glacier Ice – $4.25 USD