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The Best Shave Ice in Kauai: Top 5 Mouthwatering Spots to Visit

The Best Shave Ice in Kauai: Top 5 Mouthwatering Spots to Visit

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Don’t go to Hawaii without trying shave ice! Find out where to find the best shave ice in Kauai (and we’ve tried them ALL!) Scroll down to see our top picks!
This best shave ice on Kauai post was written by Hawaii family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

It’s true. I have been called a “shave ice snob.” But I don’t apologize for trying to find the best shave ice in Kauai, Hawaii! And my kids definitely don’t complain about helping me “research”!

Even though I’ve visited Kauai more than 25 times, I’m always on the hunt for new shave ice spots to check out.

I promised my family shave ice every day of our trip and we tasted this Hawaiian treat all over Kauai from Hanalei to Kapaa to Poipu!

Keep scrolling to see our favorite Kauai shave ice stands!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Kauai.

Popular Kauai Tours/Activities

Favorite Kauai Resorts/Hotels

  • Grand Hyatt Kauai (this Poipu resort has a luxurious pool area, romantic restaurants, and a stunning ocean view)
  • Koloa Landing Resort (this is a luxury resort with an amazing pool area and truly spacious rooms)
  • Royal Sonesta Kauai (we LOVE the pool here because it’s the largest one in Hawaii)

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What is Hawaiian Shave Ice?

In case you aren’t familiar, shave ice is a refreshing Hawaiian-style dessert or sweet treat.

Most of the time, you’ll find them in colorful snack shacks or trendy trailers/food trucks in parking lots or at the beach.


So, a lot of people assume Hawaiian shave ice is just another term for a snow cone. That would be incorrect.

Snow cones are made with crushed ice and syrup. The syrup usually pools at the bottom of the cup/cone and you are left with two distinct items: unflavored ice and syrup.

Proper shave ice comes from a solid block of ice that is finely shaved and patted. Most places will add syrup as they go, or poke holes in it to make sure the syrup is consistent throughout.

This blends the ice and syrup together so each bite is packed with flavor!

While the ice is shaved, it’s called “shave ice” NOT “shaved ice.” In fact, if you see a stand calling it “shaved ice” you probably won’t want to go there!

Trust me, it’s usually more of a snow cone than actual shave ice.


As if shave ice wasn’t already amazing just with the ice and syrup, over the past decade or so there has been a rise in available toppings.

Here’s a run-down of the most popular shave ice toppings:


This is my favorite shave ice topping! Usually, it means they drizzle condensed milk on top, but other times it’s coconut milk or some sort of cream.

It’s the perfect way to add a touch of creaminess!

Li Hing Mui

If you want something that will spark joy on your taste buds, add some li hing mui powder on top!

It’s powder made from dried salted plums and it pairs really well with fruity flavors. At home, we sprinkle it on fresh pineapple, mango, and apples.

If you haven’t tried it before, I suggest just getting it on half of your shave ice, as it can be an acquired taste.

Ice Cream

My kids insist they get a scoop of ice cream at the bottom of their shave ice! Most of the time it’s vanilla, but sometimes you can find macadamia nut ice cream!

The syrup mixes with the ice cream for a delectable treat!

Fresh Fruit

If you visit an all-natural shave ice stand, they will most likely offer you a fresh fruit topping.

The fruit in Hawaii is super flavorful and the sweetness and texture works so well with shave ice.

Nowadays, it’s easy to find all-natural shave ice with organic syrup and fresh fruit.


While I didn’t see this offered at any of the Hawaiian shave ice places on Kauai, I have seen it on Maui.

Basically, you can get little mochi balls on top of your shave ice. They are chewy and provide such a great texture to the super smooth shave ice!

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Best Shave Ice in Kauai

I’ve visited Kauai more than 30 times in the past 25 years. I don’t say that to brag, but to help establish how long I’ve been eating shave ice on Kauai.

When I first tried Hawaiian shave ice as a kid in the 90s, the only kind I could find on Kauai tasted like a Hawaiian snow cone.

I’m talking about clumpy ice where they just pour the syrup on top so there’s naked ice and I used to just eat the syrupy parts and throw the rest away.

And there are still Kauai shave ice spots like that. (Don’t worry! Those are not on this list.)

However, in past 5 or 6 years,  Kauai has fully jumped on the “gourmet” shave ice bandwagon and there are some really great options now that feature real fruit, cane sugar, and organic products.

And most of these Kauai shave ice stands use eco-friendly, recyclable and compostable packaging.

So, after trying a LOT of shave ice over the past few years, here are my top 5 spots to find the best shave ice in Kauai:

5. RipTides Shave Ice & Snacks in Lawai

If you are spending the afternoon playing on the beach in Lawai, there’s nothing more convenient than RipTides Shave Ice & Snacks.

They offer all kinds of salty snacks (including Hawaiian potato chips and Cup Noodles!) and it’s a super cute stand across the street from the beach.

But, we’re here to talk about their Hawaiian shave ice.

RipTides Shave Ice & Snacks is a popular Poipu, Kauai shave ice stand that also sells snacks, drinks, smoothies and more right across from the beach! #shaveice
RipTides Shave Ice & Snacks in Lawai, near Poipu on the South Shore of Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

What I appreciate about RipTides is that they offer both “traditional” and organic Hawaiian shave ice options. This is helpful if you are going with kids who really want bubblegum or grape-flavored shave ice.

And their organic options are fantastic!

My husband ordered the strawberry and I ordered mango/passion fruit and they were both very tasty! We could tell they were made from real fruit because the syrup was thick and a little pulpy (in a good way!)

I’d say out of all the shave ice we tried, their syrup was definitely the sweetest, so getting it “snowcapped” or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream might balance it perfectly.

It’s a great beachy treat in Lawai, near Poipu.

4. Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa

For those on the east shore of Kauai, it’s hard to beat Wailua Shave Ice in Old Kapaa Town.

It’s located in a strip mall right in the heart of Kapaa.

Families will appreciate that they offer a keiki size for kids who don’t want to share! It was actually one of the few times I saw a children’s size at any of the Hawaiian shave ice places we visited on Kauai.

Wailua Shave Ice is one of the top places for shave ice in Kauai that features all-natural ingredients, fresh fruit, and organic syrups.
Da Mango One, Wailua Sunrise, and Lava Flow at Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa, Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

My husband ordered the Lava Flow (pineapple and strawberry puree) and the haupia foam on top was heavenly!

My 5-year-old and I each ordered Da Mango One (mango juice, fresh fruit, and cream) and we gobbled them up!

And my mom ordered the Wailua Sunrise (freshly squeezed pineapple and orange juice) which we’ve loved in the past!

My family actually visited their Portland, Oregon location about 2 years ago because we didn’t have a chance to try on Kauai! They’ve also expanded to San Diego, California.

Wailua Shave Ice in Kapaa is a short drive from Plantation HaleAston Islander on the BeachSheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort, and Waipouli Beach Resort.

3. The Fresh Shave in Kalaheo

The Fresh Shave is a shave ice stand located in Old Kapaa Town near cute shops and restaurants.

While they have a lot of tasty options, I always come back to The Handle Bar. This Kauai shave ice is topped with fresh pineapple and shredded coconut and is so yummy!

The Fresh Shave features organic syrups, fresh fruit, and all-natural ingredients for some of the best shave ice on Kauai.
The Handle Bar from The Fresh Shave in Koloa on the south shore of Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I also really like The Whiskers, which is mint-infused syrup with a hint of lime and it just hits the spot on a hot day!

They also have shave ice options featuring chai tea and cold brew coffee for tired parents!

And those cute mustaches on the straws? Yep, they are stickers!

Families will love knowing about their large shaded seating area with tons of picnic tables.

The Hawaiian shave ice at The Fresh Shave is also the perfect size. Not too big, not too small. Easy to share if you’ve had a big lunch but also the right size to gobble it all up yourself!

If you need a good dose of Hawaii while you’re stuck at home, follow them on Instagram at @thefreshshave for super cute photos!

2. Waikomo Shave Ice in Poipu

I hadn’t even heard of Waikomo Shave Ice until my friend posted about it earlier this year.

Holy moly is their Hawaiian shave ice flavorful!

Waikomo Shave Ice is the best shave ice in Poipu and you can even get your shave ice in a coconut!
Strawberry and Mango shave ice from Waikomo Shave Ice in Poipu, Kauai. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

What’s really cool about Waikomo Shave Ice is that you can order your shave ice in a souvenir coconut bowl. It also comes with a wooden spoon and a wooden straw, which was a HUGE hit with my 2-year-old!

They feature all-natural shave ice and it’s so smooth!

We ordered the lychee/passion fruit and strawberry/mango and they both were superb! We had to fight our kids to share with us!

There is limited shaded seating, so be warned.

It’s located in a little strip mall area, where Da Crack is located. So, you can eat some incredible Mexican food and then do dessert at Waikomo Shave Ice.

Or be like me and eat dessert FIRST, then take your lunch to go eat at the beach!

They are actively looking to franchise, so keep your eyes peeled for future locations!

Waikomo Shave Ice in Poipu is a quick drive from the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Koloa Landing Resort, Koa Kea Hotel & Resort, and the Sheraton Kauai Resort.

1. Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei

If you are heading up north, you have to make a stop at Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei. Actually, it’s worth the drive just to taste this delectable Hawaiian shave ice!

This was the first place we stopped on our recent trip to Kauai. Coincidentally, it was also the last stop on the Tasting Kauai food tour we did on the North Shore!

Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei, Kauai features lots of artistic signs and murals and is located on Kauai's trendy North Shore.
The artistic vibe at Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei, Kauai. Photo credit: Darren Cheung

Wishing Well Shave Ice has both organic and traditional options. You can order one of their recommended combos, or create your own! It’s perfect for a trip to Kauai with family.

And they feature tropical acai bowls and coffee. Great for breakfast or an afternoon treat!

We had the snowcapped passion fruit Hawaiian shave ice with fresh papaya and it was incredible! I want to try everything on their menu because it all sounds and looks so delicious!

Like Wailua Shave Ice, they also offer a children’s size for kids 12 and under. This is a great way to try a few different combinations if you are bringing your kids!

Out of all the Kauai shave ice places we’ve tried, Wishing Well Shave Ice definitely has the best ambiance. There are tons of picnic tables, colorful artwork, and it has a cool, laid-back vibe.

It’s right next to the road, but it doesn’t feel like it. The area around Wishing Well Shave Ice is just so lush and green that you will feel like you are in paradise!

It’s an easy drive from Hanalei Colony ResortWestin Princeville1 Hotel Hanalei, and The Cliffs at Princeville.

Shave Ice on Kauai FAQs

Are there any unique shave ice flavors to try in Kauai?

Absolutely, many shave ice spots offer tropical flavors like passion fruit, guava, lychee, and coconut. Wailua Shave Ice even offers island-inspired shave ice bowls featuring local ingredients.

Is shave ice vegan-friendly?

Most of the time, yes. The ice and most flavored syrups are typically vegan, but be sure to ask, especially if you’re considering additions like ice cream or condensed milk.

Is shave ice gluten-free?

Generally, shave ice is gluten-free as the main ingredients are ice and flavored syrup. However, if you have a severe gluten sensitivity, it’s best to ask about the specific ingredients at each shop.

Where to Find the Best Shave Ice in Kauai Wrap Up

Personally, I think the best shave ice is at Wishing Well Shave Ice in Hanalei. But, you’ll find lots of shave ice stands all across Kauai.

I hope this posts helps find the most delicious shave ice on Kauai during your next trip!

Looking for more Kauai travel resources? Check out the best things to do on Kauai with kids, 10 Must-Read Kauai Travel Tips, baby-friendly Kauai activities, and the most Instagrammable spots on Kauai!

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    ania james

    Tuesday 23rd of July 2019

    They are all totally mouth watering,


    Friday 26th of July 2019

    Right? So many amazingly delicious options!


    Wednesday 20th of March 2019

    I guess one can count ice cream as a food group. I do! I've never heard of this shave ice cream before.


    Thursday 21st of March 2019

    OMG shave ice is incredible and is one of my favorite treats!


    Sunday 17th of March 2019

    I'm going to Kauai in June and can't wait to get shave ice! Just saved your list to my trip research doc :)


    Tuesday 19th of March 2019

    Yay! Glad to help! I have a lot of Kauai content on my blog :)


    Friday 8th of March 2019

    We only went to Wishing Well, so I guess we chose wisely!!!! :-) Pinning this for our next visit!

    Sheila Rhodes

    Thursday 7th of March 2019

    My husband is such a huge fan of shave ice and says when he retires he is going to get a truck and sell it. I think the states could use a great shave ice place. I'll be sure to share this post with him.


    Thursday 7th of March 2019

    That sounds like an incredible retirement plan! What a fun way to brighten people's day, too!

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