So you’re planning a trip to O’ahu (or currently find yourself in that very paradise, lucky you!) and are is search of the best shave ice on Oahu, right?
Well, I’ve spend 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, because the only thing that can make this idyllic paradise of an island better 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
#1. Matsumoto Shave Ice
We can’t talk about the best shave ice on Oahu without starting the list with the most popular shave ice spot in all of Hawaii.
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.
Serving more than 40 robust flavors of syrups 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!
Address: 66-111 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#2. 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 I was about to experience.
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-sources Hawaiian fruits and purees, hard not to love that. Make sure to order some of the fresh fruit as a topping, you’ll notice a difference.
Clearly being strict 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 hop on a flight for this treat alone? You bet.
Address: 820 W Hind Dr #116, Honolulu, HI 96821
#3. Shimazu Store
Shimazu’s came highly recommended by my sister-in-law, who has called Oahu home for the past 8 years. In fact, this is the very first place she took me to so that I could get an authentic shave ice on Oahu.
The shop recently relocated and is a short walk from downtown Waikiki, so tourists need not go far for this treat.
One thing you’ll notice as soon as you enter the store is the amount of happy customers outside and the size of their shave ice. Seriously, Shumazu’s serves some of the larges shave ice on Oahu.
There’s 20 flavors to choose from and taste delicious. Also worth mentioning, Shimazu’s is generous with the syrup, so you’ll get a very flavorful Oahu shave ice by coming here.
Note: Shimazu Store is a cash-only establishment.
Address: 330 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
Image courtesy Shimazu Store
#4. Kaimana Shave Ice
Established in 2018, Kaimana Shave Ice is the new kid on the block, but it has been welcomed with open arms by everyone that visits.
The texture of the finely shaved ice is airy and soft and the flavors are perfect. Not only do the delicious homemade syrups taste real and fresh, but they come up with some creative combinations.
We tried the the North Shore Combo and found ourselves impressed by the fresh flavors.
Another tip is to get the homemade ice cream, we opted for banana and were blown away by the flavor. The entire experience was so pleasant that I found this to be one of the best deals for quality shave ice on Oahu.
This Oahu shave ice was so good, in fact, that we drove an hour to get it before flying back home.
Address: 66519 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#5. Island Vintage Shave Ice
Firstly, the lines at Island Vintage are insane, largely thanks to the prime location in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. Don’t go during the evening hours because the wait can be an quite long.
If you’re lucky enough to walk by this place and don’t notice a line, head over and order one of the best authentic shave ice on Oahu.
Island Vintage Shave Ice is on the pricier side, but the quality is hard to beat. The menu boasts several creative combinations, but my personal favorite is the Heavenly Lilikoi, which I dream about to this day.
Address: 2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Image courtesy | Island Vintage Facebook
#6. Waiola Shave Ice
Opened in 1940, Waoila Shave Ice is the oldest shave ice on Oahu — as the long menu of exciting flavors indicates.
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.
Address: 2135 Waiola St, Honolulu, HI 96826
#7. Aoki’s Shave Ice
Aoki’s is located right across the street from Matsumoto and locals often say that you’re a fan of either one or the other. But here’s the truth – Aoki’s makes some delicious shave ice on Oahu and doesn’t require a long wait in line so visiting this place is a no-brainer whenever I’m on the North Shore.
In addition to 30+ flavors, they have tons of clever combinations to choose from. I suggest ordering one of the combos here because it gets you out of your comfort zone and they have this thing down to a science.
The size to price ratio makes this a great deal on shave ice in Oahu.
Address: 66-082 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
#8. 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 at this spot, 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).
The flavors offered aren’t overly sweet (something I appreciate) and taste fresh. We devoured our treats in no time!
Photo courtesy of Island Snow Cafe
#9. Monsarrat Shave Ice
Monsarrate Shave Ice is a great spot for flavorful shave ice on Oahu made with real fruit purees, as opposed to syrups and believe me when I tell you that you can taste the difference.
Tucked away next to the Pioneer Saloon, this tiny shop is a perfect representation of true island life. Don’t rush the shave ice making experience, these folks take time crafting the perfect treat for everyone that visits.
All of the flavors are organic and free of additives, artificial flavors and colors, really. At the end of the day, the final product is reduced to two things: shave ice and local fruit.
Address: 3046 Monsarrat Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
#10. Lahaina Shave Ice
It’s funny, considering that Waikiki is the main tourist hub on Oahu you would think there would be a high concentration of quality shave ice in the area, but that is not the case!
However, Lahaina Shave Ice is a rare exception, this is one of my favorite spots for shave ice in Waikiki.
This place is 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.
Address: 247 Beach Walk Ste 100, Honolulu, HI 96815
Best Oahu Shave Ice (Post Summary)
- Matsumoto Shave Ice
- Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha
- Shimazu Store
- Kaimana Shave Ice
- Island Vintage Shave Ice
- Waiola Shave Ice
- Aoki’s Shave Ice
- Island Snow Hawaii
- Monsarrat Shave Ice
- Lahaina Shave Ice
Map of the best shave ice on O’ahu
Love O’ahu? Me too
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.