We spent three weeks on Kauai in July (be sure to check out my complete Kauai destination guide). During that time, we took great pleasure in adapting to island life and living like locals. For the most part, we cooked our own meals and ate in, grilling up fresh fish while we relaxed by the pool of our rental house. We did, however, splurge quite a bit when it came to an island specialty: shave ice. We made it our personal mission to taste our way through all the notable shave ice stands on Kauai and find out for ourselves which location serves up the best shave ice in Kauai. I’m proud to tell you that we did indeed accomplish our mission and my waistline is the only part of me that regrets the challenge. If you’ve got a trip to Kauai in your future, you’re going to want to read the not-so-scientific results of our delicious taste test.
The Best Shave Ice in Kauai
In planning our trip, I relied on my Kauai Revealed guidebook to help us narrow down the standout shave ice stands that we’d want to be sure to hit. I came away with a list of eight contenders located all across the island. The good news is that we visited each location on my list. The bad news is that shave ice isn’t cheap; we dropped a small fortune on this island treat. In the end, we came away with a couple of disappointments but the majority of shave ice stands we hit up were quite good. Here’s a detailed report on our findings, from worst to best.
Uncle’s Shave Ice – 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka St, Koloa
In all fairness, we didn’t try the shave ice at Uncle’s; we opted instead for their specialty, the shave snow. Apparently, the ice blocks are made with dairy and syrup as opposed to just water. Supposedly, it results in a light and airy treat. We didn’t find that to be the case. We opted for the creamsicle flavor and came away sorely disappointed. Flavorings were clearly artificial and the texture of the shave snow was a bit sharp, almost to the point where it hurt to eat. We threw away over half of this portion. I would not visit again nor would I recommend.
Loco Coco Shave Ice – 2827 Poipu Rd., Poipu
Loco Coco wasn’t recommended in my guidebook but the guides on my daughter’s zipline tour recommended it so we wanted to give it a try. I kind of wish we hadn’t. This was one of the locations that proved disappointing. For starters, I was pretty creeped out by the sanitary practices, or lack thereof. During our visit, there was some sort of technical difficulty that required the employees (owners?) to switch out part of the machinery. I, unfortunately, watched the process and was pretty grossed out because nobody washed their hands after dealing with the problem. They were going in and out of the trailer (this location serves out of a food trailer) and handling lots of things that weren’t food. And then they went promptly back to preparing my shave ice without washing hands. It was pretty gross. And then there is the issue of the delay. We ordered four shave ice treats. Three of them were turned out fairly quickly and then the last one (mine) took so long that everybody else in my family had already finished theirs before I even took the first bite.
The flavor of the syrups was good here, but the ice seemed to melt faster than at any of the other locations. That may have been due to the delay we faced. I also thought it was clever and unique that they topped their shave ice with drizzled honey. Under different circumstances, it may have been a better experience but as it stands, our experience was not good and the price was one of the highest we paid. It was definitely not the best shave ice in Kauai and, quite honestly, I wouldn’t recommend.
JoJo’s Shave Ice – 9734 Kaumualii Hwy, Waimea
We visited the Waimea location of Jojo’s, having read it was the better of their two locations.
The location was convenient for a quick stop after we hiked the Pihea Trail in Waimea Canyon.
We tried the Tropical Breeze flavor, which came with guava, passion fruit and mango syrups. It had mac nut ice cream on the bottom and haupia cream on top.
We also tried the root beer float variety.
Overall, our Jojo’s experience was pretty good. There is nothing special about the syrups; they’re the standard artificial variety probably full of high fructose corn syrup. But the texture of the ice was soft and service was quick. Prices were right, too. While this wasn’t up to par with the best shave ice in Kauai, I can recommend Jojo’s as a solid choice, especially if you’ve just hiked Waimea.
Fresh Shave – 3540 Koloa Rd, Lawai
Fresh Shave is located fairly close to the Waimea location of Jojo’s, so if one of them is closed when you visit, you might try the other. The treats at Fresh Shave are served from a super cute silver vintage trailer and are named after mustaches. Anything you purchase here will be really Instagram friendly and they have a cute and shaded seating area with lots of picnic tables (watch out for mosquitoes).
The Fu Man Chu features strawberry, banana and cream syrups and is topped with strawberries and bananas.
I had the Whiskers, which featured mint infused syrup and a hint of lime. It reminded me of a mojito. It was quite refreshing.
We loved the super cute branding at Fresh Shave and the flavorful, handmade syrups. The one thing that I didn’t love was the lack of options. There were just a handful of flavors available and no option to upgrade with a scoop of ice cream. That said, this is a yummy choice and we thought the prices were very fair.
Wishing Well Shave Ice – 5-5080 Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei
Wishing Well is another location that offers some homemade organic syrups. That is precisely what we opted for during our visit. I had the Tropical Bliss, which is passion fruit and coconut syrup over mac nut ice cream and topped with papaya and coconut flakes. It was really good. The syrups were strong and genuine and the texture of the ice was perfect. They papaya on top neither enhanced or detracted from my overall enjoyment of the treat but it looked pretty.
We also ordered one of their Sunset flavors, which was four seasonal syrups (sorry, don’t remember which flavors those were) topped with fruit. Everybody really enjoyed the shaved ice we got at Wishing Well. One especially nice feature is the size of their bowls; they allow for easy eating. One drawback worth noting is that they’re especially proud of their concoctions here and the prices prove it. Still, it’s a good option for shave ice in Hanalei and we’d recommend it.
Wailua Shave Ice – 4-1306 Kuhio Hwy, Kapa’a
Wailua Shave Ice was one that we thought we might have to skip, only because we couldn’t conveniently fit it into our itinerary. As it turned out, we were able to stop in after a little souvenir shopping one afternoon and I’m really glad we did because it ended up being one of my top three favorites. In fact, if you’re looking to try the best shave ice in Kauai, the remainder of the spots we visited are solid contenders.
We tried the Love Potion No. 9 (pictured below).
And the Triple Coconut. The triple coconut ran away with my heart. It was both creamy and delicious. You’d think that it being just coconut the flavor might have fallen flat but that wasn’t the case. It was a coconut explosion in the best way possible.
The prices at Wailua represented a great value. There was also ample seating. This one is easy to recommend; definitely don’t skip Wailua in your quest to find the best shave ice in Kauai.
Hee Fat General Store – 4-1354 Kuhio Hwy, Kapa’a
Tucked back into the recesses of this cute souvenir shop is a shave ice counter. They, too, offer some homemade organic syrups.
I opted for coconut and passion fruit with a scoop of mac nut ice cream on bottom and a snow cap on top. On the day we visited, passion fruit and coconut were both natural syrup offerings and since I lean towards both anyway, it was an easy choice. I enjoyed it so much. The passion fruit syrup, especially, was really flavorful. And the portion size was borderline ridiculous. The following photo depicts just how large this thing really was.
We loved Hee Fat for the portion size, value, shave ice texture and syrup flavor. It ranked as my number two favorite.
Shave Ice Tege Tege – 4-1638 Kuhio Hwy, Kapa’a
Drumroll, please. The hands-down winner in our quest to find the best shave ice in Kauai was Shave Ice Tege Tege. Their shave ice treats definitely fall into the ‘work of art’ category. The photo below is the dragon fruit shave ice my son got on the last full day of our trip.
We loved Tege Tege so much that we visited twice during our trip. On our first visit, my daughter ordered the strawberry flavor.
On our first visit, I tried the blueberry cream cheese variety. I wasn’t super thrilled at the prospect, but it was the most appealing item on their menu that day. I have to tell you that I was shocked by how delicious it was. Really. Shocked. It literally tasted like blueberry cheesecake ice cream. How they accomplish the creaminess of ice cream in an ice-based dessert is beyond me. But this much I know: they are successful in the endeavor.
The storefront (which is a food trailer parked in a lot with three or four other food trucks/trailers) is totally Instagram friendly. They have the cutest turquoise and pink color scheme.
There are three notable drawbacks here. 1. The shave ice isn’t cheap. 2. The wait is really, really long. 3. They serve their treats in cups that are not the least bit accommodating; expect maximum drippage. Still, in spite of these drawbacks, Shave Ice Tege Tege offered the hands-down best texture and flavor of all the shave ice locations we visited. Their treats are the stuff Hawaiian dreams are made of. It’s worth noting that they have limited hours so be sure to check their Instagram feed for current hours if you plan to visit. In any case, though, do visit. You will not regret the wait or a dime you spend.
As you can see, finding the best shave ice in Kauai took some sacrifice, but I think we came away with a definitive winner. Let me know your favorites in the comments!