As you start planning your trip to Kauai, one thing is sure, you must try shave ice, a Hawaiian bucket list item. While you can find plenty of restaurants, stands, and food trucks offering shave ice all over the island, there are 2 Kauai shave ice spots that stand out above them all.
Looking to plan several Kauai dining experiences? Check out my Top Kauai Restaurants and Must Try Local Foods post.
I was invited on a complimentary press trip to Kauai. As always, all opinions are my own. Affiliate links in post where a small commission may be earned at no cost to you for any purchases made.
Best Kauai Shave Ice
Five full days in Kauai and I have to admit that I enjoyed Hawaiian shave ice on three of those days. Calories don’t count when on island time, right?
But let’s talk about shave ice for a minute, because there were some things I needed to be educated about.
Is it Called Shave Ice or Shaved Ice?
When you are looking around the island for this sweet treat, be wary of anyone touting it as shaved (with a D) ice. Shave ice (without the D) is the authentic name and both places I will lead you to call it as such.
Is there a Difference between Hawaiian Shave Ice and a Snow Cone?
The answer is a resounding YES and I was about to learn this first hand.
Kids everywhere love the extra syrup-y sweet snow cones that are synonymous with summer, but those snow cones are made with crushed ice, usually crunchy, and full of syrups with artificial coloring and flavors. It is nothing like the shave ice you SHOULD experience in Kauai.
Hawaiian Shave Ice, on the other hand, doesn’t used crushed, but rather shaved ice, and appears snow-like in texture. It’s often flavored with local ingredients such as coconut, guava, or pineapple, and many feature a distinctly Hawaiian surprise – a scoop of vanilla ice cream inside (see above). This is the treat to beat all treats in Kauai (except for maybe Duke’s Hula Pie), and the surprising ice cream was my favorite part!
Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa
There’s no better way to begin a Kauai vacation than to enjoy a stop for an afternoon shave ice. That’s exactly what I did on the day of my arrival, and having just enjoyed a full lunch didn’t deter me in the least.
I headed to Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa for what many consider to be the gourmet shave ice of the island.
View this post on Instagram
My first Hawaiian Shave Ice! Not at all what I expected – nothing like a snow cone! AD this was Wailua Sunrise…fresh pineapple and orange juice! @wailuashaveice 🍍🍍🍍 #kauaidiscovery @kauaidiscovery #visitkauai #lethawaiihappen #rejuvenatingkauai . . . . #kauai #kauailife #kauailife #hawaiianshaveice #shaveice #pineapple #orangejuice #sweet #sweettooth #nom #island #islandlife #foodie #foodpics #foodphotography #foodphoto #ig #igtravel #wailuashaveice #notasnowcone @kauaidiscovery
I ordered the Wailua Sunrise which had ingredients of fresh pineapple and orange juice. So sweet and delicious, but I must warn you it’s pretty big. Unless you order a “Keiki Bowl” for ages 12 and under, you might want to consider sharing. Of course, you could have a loved one like my husband, who would always demand his own. The good part about that is you can try two different flavors.
Next time I want to try either the “Da Almond Joy” featuring Nutella, Coconut Milk, Almonds, and Roasted Coconut Flakes, or what can be a special of the day, “Lilikoi Cream” featuring Passion Fruit and Vanilla Bean Milk. I really learned to love the lilikoi flavor while on the island, especially the Lilikoi Chiffon Pie.
Wailua’s Shave Ice doesn’t put the traditional ice cream in, that said, the flavors are incredible and it’s not to be missed! It gives you an excuse to hunt down another shave ice spot, one which offers ice cream.
Note: If you happen to live in or plan to visit Portland, Oregon, there is a Wailua Shave Ice downtown.
Open 12-6 daily.
Wailua Shave Ice
4-1306 Kuhio Hwy
Kapaa, HI 96746
Shave Ice Tege Tege in Kapaa
Tege Tege is where I really fell in love with shave ice. Surprisingly, both my top recommendations are found in Kapaa, so you must make the trip. All flavors on the menu have shave ice topped with organic condensed milk, and for an extra couple bucks they will add in organic vanilla ice cream. This unexpected addition to shave ice was perfection. Do not save money by skipping the ice cream. It is part of the experience!
You’ll see my choice, Hawaiian Lemon, being prepared above. Lemon, yet it’s not yellow! I love that Tege Tege uses organic fruit and syrups are sweetened with organic evaporated cane juice.
Favorite local flavors include Lychee, Hibiscus, Papaya, Mango, Green Tea, Coconut or Jamaican Lilikoi, but kids will love spying traditional flavors like Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, and more.
Other than the inclusion of ice cream, a great perk is being able to watch Tege Tege shave the ice manually with a hand crank shave ice machine. They take this seriously and don’t even try to engage in small talk with them while they are preparing your order. You will be rewarded for their focus.
Shave Ice Tege Tege
4-1620 Kuhio Hwy
Kapaa, HI 96746
Honorable Mention for Sugar Free Shave Ice
As the wife of a diabetic husband, I know first hand that it can be downright difficult to tell someone they can’t enjoy a treat that is on everyone’s bucket list during a Hawaiian vacation. That’s why I am mentioning Uncle’s Kauai. They offer sugar free shave ice.
So if you are trying to avoid sugar for any number of reasons, this might be the place for you. They offer these sugar free options – Mango, Coconut, Guava, Pineapple & Lilikoi. I love that these flavors are distinctly Hawaiian.
Uncle’s Kauai is in one of my favorite shopping areas on the island, so it just might be a good stop for a bit of leisure time – shopping and shave ice.
YOU WILL ALSO LOVE: