Let’s talk about Shave Ice for today’s Kauai-flavored post.
Yes, it is called Shave Ice, not shaved ice and definitely NOT snow cones. My husband (I love that word), my husband and I made it our mission to discover the best shave ice on the island and so we scoured north, east, south, and west shores and put our taste buds to the test. Shave Ice is very different than snow cones as this ice is not crunchy but perfectly shaved (and if done well, it’s almost fluffy!) This shave ice is also often accompanied by a perfect scoop of ice cream sitting on the bottom of the ice that provides the perfect balance to the sweet syrup on top. (I thought it was weird to mix ice cream and shave ice too, but try it, it’s amazing!)
Kauai offers some of the best Shave Ice in the entire northern hemisphere and I’m here to break it down for you.
Number 5: Wailua Shave Ice (East Shore)
One of the coolest things about the Shave Ice industry in Kauai is the fact they are located everywhere: in shops, on the sand, in little trailers and campers. They were everywhere! Wailua Shave Ice was one such trailer stand, located on the side of the road next to a couple of food trucks. We had been directed here by one of our excursion guides. While it was good, it does land toward the bottom of our list (technically Jojo’s is the bottom but we’re not even going to waste time on that). One of our biggest frustrations with Wailua Shave Ice was its “pre-determined” menu. In other words, they had a handful of options (we got a “Lava Flow”), but you could not choose your own flavors. It was good, but not the best!
Number 4: The Fresh Shave (South-West)
The Fresh Shave was another good, not great Shave Ice, but it gets extra points for its creativity! The Fresh Shave is another roadside camper with pre-determined options. The fun part is that all of its options were given the names of mustache styles. We got the Fu Manchu (Strawberry & Banana). The Shave Ice gets props online for having more natural syrups and less sugars than others, but this did reduce the amount of flavor in my opinion. It just depends on whether you want to focus more on healthiness or tastiness. For me, it was more about tastiness all the way! They also did not serve ice cream with their shave ice (which is a plus for others).
Number 3: Uncle’s Shave Ice (South / North Shore)
No, Uncle is not skimpy with his shave ice, I just forgot to take a picture before I dived right in and started eating while my husband paid. Uncle’s Shave Ice is more of “chain” shave ice, meaning that you can find more than one on the island. We went to the location in South Shore. Uncle’s is decorated with sports memorabilia and offers something called shave “snow.” While we did not try the shave snow, which is indeed different than shave ice, we loved the shave ice! The flavors were far more intense than the previously mentioned locations, although the ice cream was your simple run-of-the-mill ice cream. A solid third place!
Number 2: Kalapaki’s Shave Ice (East Shore)
Okay, so unless you read this post, or have a friend who went there before (thank you TShaw), you will never find this shave ice. Some of the locals didn’t even know about it!! Kalapaki’s Shave Ice is located in a small hut, attached to the back of Kalapaki Beach Hut in Lihue. The Beach Hut is a bright yellow building located next to a port town that serves burgers, fries, etc. But the real star is what is located in the back! This little stand (not visible from the road, you need to have faith and walk behind the building) has the fluffiest shave ice I have ever tasted. That’s right, I said fluffy! This shave ice was literally melt-in-your-mouth delicious! If we were just talking shave ice, Kalapaki’s would take number 1, but when we’re talking shave ice and ice cream, there is only one true winner…
Number 1: Brennecke’s Deli Shave Ice (South Shore – Poipu)
Located right behind the popular Poipu Beach Park is Brennecke’s Beach Broiler. This is a two story building that consists of a restaurant (top floor) and a deli, souvenir shop, and shave ice on the bottom floor. (HINT: If you eat upstairs first, they will give you a coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free for shave ice. We utilized those coupons a couple of times!) This shave ice is wonderfully shaved, the flavors are on point (get banana!), the snow coat is the perfect topping, and the ice cream compliments the shave ice in every way. Unlike other ice creams that always seem to melt too quickly, the ice cream at Brennecke’s last well with the shave ice, creating a perfect combo of ice and cream. Additionally, they use the Vanilla Bean ice cream instead of plain vanilla. If you’re feeling adventurous, abandon vanilla altogether and try macadamia nut ice cream (That was my favorite). If you get a chance, go to Brennecke’s, they will not disappoint!
Well, there you have it! There were many more Shave Ice stands that we would have loved to visit (like Wishing Well in North Shore, but unfortunately they were closed by the time we got there). We are already planning our next trip to Kauai and looking forward to finding more Shave Ice places to check out. I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if you ever get the chance to visit Kauai, make sure you treat your taste buds to some delicious Shave Ice!