Shave Ice: the Perfect Treat for a Hot Day

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

If there’s one thing that’s true about Hawaii (and especially the western side of the Big Island), it’s that you can rely on beautiful sunny weather almost year-round. When the heat beats you, it’s natural to gravitate toward a bowl of ice cream and cool down in some shade, but Hawaii is famous for another icy dessert that may be even more refreshing than ice cream: shave ice!

Commonly called shaved ice or Hawaiian shaved ice, the difference between this treat and snow cones is simple, but significant: whereas snowcones use crushed ice as their primary syrup-delivery system, shaved ice is literally that. Taking a large block of ice and using special machinery, extremely thin ice shavings are scooped up and packed into a bowl or cone and various flavored syrups are added. While you can opt for a traditional shaved ice recipe with flavors like strawberry, blueberry, or cherry, you’re likely to find flavors like guava, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, and kiwi in Hawaii, with some flavorings coming right from Hawaiian producers themselves.

There’s also a lovely combination you can try at certain shave ice stands: adding frozen yogurt or ice cream to the middle of your shave ice. Some also pour sweetened condensed milk over the top, which is known as a snowcap.

So where can you find the best shave ice on the Big Island? The following are some of our favorite shave ice companies and you’re likely to find them at street festivals, music events, and maybe even near the beach!

Original Big Island Shave Ice Co
Church Row
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 895-6069

Scandinavian Shave Ice
75-5699 Alii Dr
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 326-2522

Hawaiian Brain Freeze Shave Ice
1263 Kilauea Ave
Hilo, HI 96720
(808) 961-5935

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