The Snow Cone - Hawaiian Style!

A shave ice is cool and refreshing and a must-have treat while in Hawaii. It’s a local favorite among keiki (children) and adults alike—the perfect remedy to cool you down on hot sunny days. Not to be confused with snow cones on the mainland, Hawaiian shave ice is fluffy and as light as snow unlike the coarse crystals found in a snow cone.  An authentic shave ice starts off with an ice block that is spun around a razor-sharp blade that shaves the ice (hence the name) into an extremely fine texture—the finer, the better. The ice is gently packed in a cup where fruit syrups are then poured and absorbed into the ice rather than simply coating it. Japanese immigrants brought the popular creation to Hawaii in the early sugar plantation days of the 1920s. During those times, shave ice was only available on Sundays when the plantation workers had a day off to make the tasty refresher. 

Today, you can find it almost 24/7 at specialty shave ice stands, mom-and-pop stores, cafes and at festivities on the Big Island. Be experimental and try exotic flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit), pineapple and lychee, or ask for the famous “rainbow” shave ice. Feeling extra adventurous? Some vendors even offer delicious options like azuki beans, condensed milk and ice cream. Over 21? Live it up with an adult version—add your favorite spirit (rum, vodka, tequila—you get the idea) to the fruit syrups to make an over-the-top, cool adult drink. Or, let some of the Big Island’s most talented bartenders make one for you! Order one at Huggo’s in Kailua-Kona or Beach Tree at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.  

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