Cool Oahu

We’re wild for the island’s sweet shave ice.

Hot days in the tropics are easily remedied in the Hawaiian Islands with the ever-popular shave ice. The treat is similar to the mainland snow cone, but there is an important difference: shave ice is made with shaved ice, which absorbs syrups better. Snow cones are made with crushed ice.

To find an excellent shave ice place, here’s a checklist of what to look for:

1. Made-from-scratch syrups. How can you tell? Seasonal or wacky flavors are a good sign. At Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, for example, you may see kalespin (kale and spinach). Good shops use pure sugar cane, not corn syrup, and they typically advertise their natural processes.

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2. Toppings can turn ordinary shave ice into something worthy of worship. Adzuki beans, mochi, ice cream, and condensed milk are a few options. You’re not looking for variety of toppings as much as quality. Also, good proprietors come up with original house combos.

Where to go near Honolulu

Waiola is a hidden gem that gets no part of the shave-ice formula wrong. Syrups are natural and use sugar cane. Adzuki beans are made daily, and custard pudding and mochi balls are made twice a week.

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Shave-ice fanatics are drawn to the dream sauce, a lighter condensed milk, at Uncle Clay’s. The seasonal sweet potato is imaginative, with Maui sugar cane, Big Island milk and cinnamon, and local sweet potatoes.

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Ailana’s carries flavorful combos, including the mocha, made with Kona coffee, caramel, chocolate, condensed milk, and ice cream. While all syrups are homemade, the strawberry milk is a standout.

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