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Perfect Day for Waiola Shave Ice

Waiola Rainbow Shave Ice with vanilla ice cream, $3.01

Today was a gorgeous sunny day in Waikiki, so after the beach I decided to cool off with a Rainbow Shave Ice from Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice stand, just up the street on Kapahulu avenue.

The menu board was a bit confusing, as it only lists their “fancy” shave ice concoctions, including Azuki Bowl, Ice Cream Bowl (more than plain vanilla), Sunday Shave Ice Bowl, Custard Bowl and Mocha Bowl. Looks interesting, but all I wanted was a basic shave ice with vanilla ice cream on the bottom. So I told the girl to give me exactly that in a large size, and she rang it up @ $3.01. Cool. Literally and figuratively!

In less than a minute I was sitting down on the counter inside the store digging into my shave ice.

Let’s talk texture, which is where Waiola nails it. Notice how the ice is holding, even over the edge of the spoon…

It’s Superfine, yet not too powdery. Just enough where the syrup evenly coats every cubic inch of it, from the outside in. This superfine texture also almost convinces you that this is ice cream, and we haven’t even reached that point yet!

After a little digging, you reach the rich, milky goodness of the vanilla ice cream at the base, which is a fantastic contrast to the lighter syrup-flavored ice…

Scoop a little vanilla ice cream, along with the rainbow-flavored shave ice….

and my friends, it doesn’t get any simpler, yet any better than this! Hit da’ spot! Hit the spot.

I thought this would make a funny photo…

A Rainbow Shave Ice in front of Rainbow Drive Inn! Rainbow Drive Inn is just a block down the street, which is near where I parked.

The “melt factor” was also impressive. I ate about a third of it in the shop, then by the time I walked back to my car a block down, took all the photos shown here, then sat in the car to finish the rest, that had to have been at least 15 minutes. This in scorching Hawaiian sun.

I must make a comment about the bowl, which I think is much more user-friendly than the traditional paper cone. But there’s something nostalgic about the paper cone, with the finely-shaved ice packed in a bulbous top-heavy heap on top that makes it that much more fun to eat. Especially with the classic flat wooden spoon. Ya’ know? When the ice starts to melt, and some of the shave ice falls to the ground, you feel a little bummed, yet laugh about it at the same time. Perhaps they got tired of mopping up those messes in the shop and decided to play it safe by using bowls. Fine. Fine then. Be like that. lol

Here’s a picture chart showcasing some of their “designer” creations…

On the wall to the right of the shop are shave ice syrups, crack seed, chips, candy and Waiola logo T-Shirts for sale…

As you see, the syrup flavors available include Li Hing Mui, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, Lemon-Lime, Banana, Vanilla and Strawberry.

My sister used to run a lunch wagon a long time ago, and they used to get their syrup from Harders, who even back then had some wild flavors such as Pistachio and Bubble Gum. Excellent shave ice syrups.

To the left of the shop is a counter to sit on and some shelving to display their baked goods…

Although there were no baked goods on this Saturday afternoon visit. At least none that I noticed. Just Shave Ice.

There were a steady stream of customers though. This place does very good business here. Every time I drive by there’s folks standing outside eating their shave ice.

Waiola is located several blocks mauka of Waikiki (easily within walking distance), on the Diamond Head side of Kapahulu avenue in a building that faces the corner of the intersecting street…

Here’s what you need to know…

Is there ever NOT a perfect day in Hawaii for shave ice?

Waiola Shave Ice
525 Kapahulu Avenue

The Tasty Island Rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related Links:
Waiola Shave Ice II – Ono Kine Grindz
Waiola Shave Ice – Yelp User Reviews


15 thoughts on “Perfect Day for Waiola Shave Ice

  • August 10, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Waiola Shave Ice is the best anywhere! Annie and I used to frequent the original location when we were dating. In fact, that is where I proposed to her. I had them put the ring (in a baggie) on top of the ice cream but under the ice. That was a complete shock to her ;-)

    Gotta make my pilgrimmage to Waiola when we get there. Li hing and melona is my flavor combo of choice.

    Thanks for the review and the memory!

  • August 10, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Nate, what an incredible story! So where did the two of you situate yourselves to eat the shave ice? In the shop, outside on the sidewalk benches, or elsewhere? Surely that baggie the ring was wrapped in gave you a little more comfort & security that she wouldn’t eat or choke on the ring!

  • August 10, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Shave Ice! Wonder the one on Liliha and Punui still there? There one at Kalihi St near the old King Inn Restaurant (which my cousin use to own) not there any more. When in San Francisco it hard to find shave ice or snow cone with syrups on it Only sometimes at Japantown. Other places make it more Taiwan style with fruits, red beans ect. I ask them for one with syrups they said ” No that sound very plain and boring”. Oh well wrong place to get it.

  • August 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    It’s HOT here! Those pics instantly cooled me off. Whew, thanks.

  • August 10, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    I luv Waiola Shave ice. I always get Li Hing mui! YUMZ…..You lucky you live close by huh? I actually like the original location better though, even though the Kapahulu one has more places to sit and eat. The last couple-a times I went the the Kapahulu one I didn’t see any baked goods either! I thought maybe they gave it up ‘n was doing just the shave ice kine stuff. Man I better go get me some shave ice today! haha..

  • August 10, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    I love the wedding proposal story as well! I didn’t have Waiola until I was about 18 so I had a hard time adjusting to it. To me, Matsumoto’s/Aoki’s was “real” shave ice and I felt like the fineness of Waiola was too much. I think I’m a convert because of their green tea syrup though. Their other syrups are also much better than anywhere else–less sweet, more natural flavor I think. I’ve also realized that the finer ice holds the syrup better; in coarse shave ice, it all sinks to the bottom!

  • August 11, 2008 at 3:43 am

    the past week would have been perfect waiola shave ice days here!

  • August 11, 2008 at 4:52 am

    My dream shave ice is one with both ice cream and azuki beans, topped with li hing mui syrup. Unfortunately, you can’t get that at very many places where I live! There will be stands at farmers’ markets that advertise “Hawaiian shaved ice” (always the past tense “shaved,” never the local “shave”) but the syrups are pretty pedestrian and they don’t offer anything else with it.

    Last year when we were in Honolulu we went to Waiola in Kapahulu, circled for a long time and just couldn’t get parking. (I grew up in Kapahulu and thought I knew all the street spots, but apparently it’s been too long.) Three years prior to that, we had again visited but they were out of azuki beans that day!!! Maybe next time we visit, third time will be the charm. I do love the texture of their ice.

  • August 12, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    @Pomai – we ate on the benches. I was so nervous! She was sick and didn’t feel like eating it all (was going to throw it away) but I kept encouraging her to eat down to the ice cream.

  • August 13, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    We just made a shave ice run to our little stand here in Ewa Beach after the movers left. What a great way to celebrate… not as exciting as Nate’s proposal story though! Will have to try Waiola while we’re staying in Waikiki too…

  • August 14, 2008 at 12:52 am

    After seeing this, I just had to have some! The family and I went to the one at Waiola St. MMM…..it was so good! Perfect on a hot Sunday.

    BTW, great pictures. Can I use some of them in my family blog? I want to “show-off” to my friends and relatives who don’t live here in Hawaii, what they’re missing. LOL!

  • August 14, 2008 at 1:43 am

    Hi France, by all means, use any pictures you like.

    Manju, you stay referring to Aoki’s, eh?

    Nate, Ah, on da’ benches. What if she said, “Ah, dis’ shave ice junk”, and threw it away in the rubbish before you had time to stop her. lol Nah, but with Waiola’s, no way that could happen. Too ono.

    Jenny, good point about “shave ice” vs. “shaved ice”; Notice Matsumoto, Aoki’s and Waiola all spell it “SHAVE ICE”, da’ real local way fo’ say ’em.

    Dana, I don’t like too much going on in shave ice. Mochi balls, custards, no way. Even Azuki is a bit much for me. Ice cream at the most and that’s it. I’m even fine without that and just shave ice. Keep it simple.

    Gwen, gotta’ admit, pictures of shave ice do have a cooling effect!

    Cree, that was also my impression: that they had given up on the bakery business, focusing just on shave ice. Didn’t get a chance to ask about that.

  • August 14, 2008 at 2:34 am

    @ Pomai – Thanks! I’ll link the pictures back to your site. I know my friends and relatives will love your site, too.

  • August 20, 2008 at 1:54 am

    I grew up with Jerry, the owner of Waiola Shave Ice…we went to the same schools and he knows my whole family. He always remembered my name even though I admitted that I forgot his! I even remember when they first emigrated from Vietnam and they used to live upstairs of the Waiola St. store. He’s done very well and I’m very happy for him. I always eat a shave ice from him when I go home and when he found out that I got married (I hadn’t seen him in years), he’s so cute, he gave me and my hubby free shave ice to say “congratulations!” hehe…


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