So you’re planning a trip to O’ahu (or currently find yourself in paradise, lucky you!) and are is search of the best shave ice on Oahu? I have you covered.
I’ve spent a few months living on the island and visit twice a year because I can’t get enough. In that time, I’ve found some of the best shave ice on O’ahu. At this point I’m convinced that the only thing that can make Oahu feel more like paradise is having a shave ice in hand.
So, what exactly is Hawaiian shave ice?
Originally influenced by an ice-based dessert from Japan, Hawaiian shave ice is made from shaving ice into a fine, airy consistency and topping it with flavored syrups.
Contrary to popular belief, shave ice is NOT the same thing as a snow cone, which is made with crushed ice and gives off a harder texture.
Due to the difference in consistency, shave ice absorbs flavors much better than snow cones where the syrups simply melts to the bottom quickly.
“The ideal shave ice texture is soft and fluffy, you want it to melt in your mouth. No hard scratchy ice bits. The ice shouldn’t be packed tight in the bowl/cup, you should only mound the ice enough so that it barely holds shape.”
Logistics aside, shave ice is a beloved Hawaiian treat and you would be remiss to overlook it during your visit to Oahu.
Best Shave Ice on Oahu
#10. Shimazu Store
Shimazu originally started as a small food cart dishing out shave ice. By 2006, they expanded to a store that serves some of the best shave ice on Oahu. Offering more than 70 flavors, this is the place to go for unique flavors.
One thing you’ll quickly notice is the massive portion sizes. Seriously, Shumazu serves some of the largest shave ice on Oahu — the small is more than enough for two adults.
Also worth mentioning, Shimazu is very generous with the flavored syrup, so you’ll get a very flavorful Oahu shave ice by coming here. All told, we like the shave ice but found some of the flavors to be hit or miss (some tasted very artificial).
But, this is clearly a popular spot and we found ourselves rubbing elbows with tourists and locals alike, which is always a good sign.
Address: 330 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
#9. Island Vintage Shave Ice
First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room. The lines at Island Vintage are super long most hours of the day, but this is largely thanks to the prime location in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. If you’re keen on trying this popular Oahu shave ice spot, try to avoid it during the busy evening hours.
Logistics aside, the shave ice is worth popping in for when your sweet tooth strikes. The shave ice at this joint is on the sweeter side, but the flavors are enjoyable and seem to be good quality. This is one of the most expensive shave ice spots on Oahu (I’m guessing because of the location), but they boast several creative combinations.
My favorite combo was the Heavenly Lilikoi (lilikoi and strawberry syrup, frozen yogurt center, boba, mochi, condensed milk, and fresh fruits).
Address: 2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
#8. Lahaina Shave Ice
It’s easy to assume that the best shave ice on Oahu would be found in Waikiki. It’s the main tourist hub on the island, so you’d expect there to be a lot of shave ice shops, but that isn’t necessarily the case in my experience.
Rather, the best shave ice on Oahu is peppered throughout the island, with only a handful of joints found in Waikiki. Lahaina Shave Ice is one of the spots that comes to mind.
It’s easy to miss because it’s located in the Pagoda Waikiki (which used to be the Hawaiiana Hotel). However, don’t make the mistake of overlooking it, boasting more than 25 flavors, this is one of the best spots on the island for a refreshing treat before hitting the beach.
Address: 247 Beach Walk Ste 100, Honolulu, HI 96815
#7. Aoki’s Shave Ice
Aoki’s is located right across the street from the most famous shave ice shop on Oahu — Matsumoto (I’ll cover this spot shortly). Locals often say that you’re either a devote fan of one or the other, but seldom both.
But here’s the truth – Aoki’s makes some of the best shave ice on Oahu and doesn’t typically have very long lines, unlike Matsumoto.
Offering 30+ flavors, they have tons of clever combinations to choose from. I suggest ordering one of the combos, the folks have clearly thought out some clever combinations. Short lines, great shave ice and friendly service, what more could you ask for?
P.S. The generous size-to-price ratio makes this a great deal for shave ice in Oahu, I pop in whenever I’m visiting the North Shore.
Address: 66-082 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#6. Waiola Shave Ice
Opened in 1940, Waoila Shave Ice is the oldest shave ice on Oahu, and has the long menu of exciting flavors to prove it. The abundance of homemade syrups ensures that everyone will leave happy at this simple, no-frills shop.
The most popular combinations is President Obama’s favorite: cherry, lemon-lime and passion fruit, aptly named the Obama Rainbow. We ordered it and weren’t disappointed.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the price seemed high for the small portion size. This was the smallest shave ice we received, and not the cheapest. Regardless, this joint is considered a classic and shouldn’t be missed.
Address: 2135 Waiola St, Honolulu, HI 96826
#5. Island Snow Cafe
Island Snow Hawaii is one of the most popular spots for shave ice on Oahu. A lot of its fame comes from being one of President Obama’s favorite spots on the island.
The coconut flavor is my favorite, but it’s hard to go wrong regardless of what you choose. Make sue you order the ice cream as well, the creaminess is a perfect complement to the shave ice — especially with citrus flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit) and lime.
The flavors offered aren’t overly sweet (something I appreciate) and taste fresh. We opted for the natural flavors and devoured our treat in no time, it was so good! I can’t wait to return to this spot during my next visit.
#4. Kaimana Shave Ice
Founded in 2018, Kaimana Shave Ice is the new kid on the block, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best.
The texture of the finely shaved ice is airy and soft and the flavors are perfect. Not only do the delicious homemade syrups taste authentic and fresh, they come up with some creative combinations. We tried the the North Shore Combo and couldn’t have been happier.
Another tip is to get the homemade ice cream, we opted for banana and were blown away by the flavor. The entire experience was top-notch! In my opinion, this is one of the best spots for quality shave ice on Oahu.
Address: 66519 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#3. Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
Of all the great shave ice on Oahu, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha impressed me the most. The charming yet unassuming storefront didn’t prepare me for the incredible flavors.
The owner, affectionately known as Uncle Clay, takes great pride in his homemade syrups and refuses to use artificial flavors and colors. As such, all the syrups are made with real fruit juice and natural cane sugar.
What’s more, Uncle Clay likes to keep his creations as local as possible and uses locally-sourced Hawaiian fruits and purees. How can you not love that? Make sure to order some of the fresh fruit as a topping, you’ll notice a difference.
Clearly being unwavering about quality works well for this gem of store, which churns out some of the best shave ice on Oahu.
But don’t just take my word for it, Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha has been serving locals and tourists alike for more than 25 years. Would I order an Uber for this joint alone? In a heartbeat.
Address: 820 W Hind Dr #116, Honolulu, HI 96821
#2. Matsumoto Shave Ice
We can’t talk about the best shave ice on Oahu without mentioning the most popular shave ice on Hawaii (not just Oahu!).
Located in Haleiwa, on the scenic North Shore, Matsumoto Shave Ice opened in 1951 and is still considered one of the best spots for shave ice on Oahu.
Offering more than 40 robust homemade flavors and a plethora of interesting toppings like condensed milk, mochi, homemade ice cream and red bean paste, you’re bound to find a combination to love.
This beloved Oahu shave ice spot is easy to find thanks to the inevitable long lines most hours of the day. But fret not, the line moves quickly and the wait is well worth it. Matsumoto’s is an iconic Hawaiian staple for a reason and cannot afford to miss it.
Address: 66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#1. Monsarrat Shave Ice
Step aside, Matsumoto, the crown is passing over to none other than Monsarrate Shave Ice. This is, hands down, the absolute best shave ice on Oahu. In fact, this will be my first stop when I return to Hawaii.
Made with real fruit purees (you can taste the flavors), this one-woman shop is nothing short of perfection. The difference between purees and syrups is life changing, and it’s hard to go back.
Tucked away next to the Pioneer Saloon, this tiny shop is a great representation of true island life. Don’t rush the shave ice making experience, this one will take some time, but it’s well worth it.
All of the flavors are homemade, organic and free of additives, artificial flavors and colors. At the end of the day, the final product is reduced to two things: shave ice and local fruit. It’s a beautiful thing, and will ruin all other shave ice for you.
Address: 3046 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Note: This is a cash-only establishment.
Best Oahu Shave Ice (Post Summary)
- Monsarrat Shave Ice
- Matsumoto Shave Ice
- Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
- Kaimana Shave Ice
- Island Snow Hawaii
- Waiola Shave Ice
- Aoki’s Shave Ice
- Lahaina Shave Ice
- Island Vintage Shave Ice
- Shimazu Store
Map of the best shave ice on O’ahu
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Here’s a few more posts you may find helpful.
- 20 Adventurous Things to Do in Honolulu
- The 10 Best Spots to find Sea Turtles on Oahu
- 10+ Breathtaking Beaches on Oahu
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this post of the best shave ice on Oahu, based on first-hand experience.