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
- Na Pali Coast Snorkeling Tour (this one also goes to the forbidden island of Ni’ihau)
- Kauai Helicopter Tour (this is the BEST way to see waterfalls on Kauai)
- ATV Tour to a Private Waterfall (this is a romantic adventure that feels like a secret getaway)
- Mountain Tubing (this is a low-key adventure down an old sugar cane canal)
- Luau Kalamaku (you can do a little train ride and feed farm animals before the luau)
- Book a Photo Shoot (this is a Hawaii souvenir you’ll treasure forever)
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)
Want to Rent a Car in Hawaii?
One of the best places to rent a car in Hawaii is Discount Hawaii Car Rental because they get the best rates from top national companies like Alamo, Dollar, Thrifty, Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Payless.
Want a Hawaii travel guide? I’ve got detailed guides and 7-day itineraries!
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.
SHAVE ICE VS. SNOW CONE
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.
SHAVE ICE TOPPINGS
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.
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!
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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Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 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!
Shave Ice on Kauai FAQs
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.
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.
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!