Waiola Shave Ice is a famous shave ice store in Hawaii. They have all the classics flavors, plus Hawaii-only treats like li hing mui, lychee, and lilikoi!
Li hing mui and lilikoi with snowcap at Waiola Shave Ice
Look for the blue store on the corner of Waiola and Paani Street.
Waiola Shave Ice, always busy ^_^
It's Waiola Shave Ice!
In my big shave ice post, I mentioned that everyone in Hawaii has a go-to shave ice spot. Waiola's is my spot. Why? I've been coming here since middle school! I've been to Waiola's with family, local friends, visiting friends, and everyone you can imagine. School was located within walking distance, so I often stopped by for an afternoon school snack. Now that I look back and think about that...man, life was good.
To learn more about the Hawaii-style of shave ice (it's called shave ice not shaved ice), check out this shave ice post.
Waiola has been around since 1940. They have changed owners a few times, and it is a well run, local business that we love to support. They have two locations but the one you want to visit is the original at 2135 Waiola Street.
Like many mom and pop food businesses in Hawaii, Waiola's started as a small grocery market. When the city started a large road widening project in the 1970s, many small shave ice shops (there used to be tons) shut down. So the owners got the idea to open a shave ice window to their already existing store, brilliant!
And that's why till this day, you still place shave ice orders through the small window on the street.
What To Order At Waiola Shave Ice
Why does Waiola seems to have the most delicate and light ice? Some say the secret is because they add sugar to the water before freezing it! We'll never know for sure, but I like the idea.
The menu is big, go with a plan or be prepared to be overwhelmed. This is what I order:
Waiola's has all the "normal" flavors like cherry, banana, strawberry, etc. I would pass* on all of that. You are in Hawaii, so you should try the flavors that are unique to Hawaii! Waiola makes all the syrups in house. I like to have two flavors in a cup (any more and they tend to get muddled up). These are good combos:
- Li hing mui x Lilikoi
- POG (passion-orange-guava) x Lychee
- Li Hing Mui x Pineapple
- Pickled Mango (seasonal flavor) x Li Hing Mui
- Haupia x Mango
*Only exception to that rule is my friend Kelly (who has been going with me to Waiola's since 7th grade). She always orders small size, rainbow flavor. In high school she went so often that they would have her shave ice order ready as soon as they saw her. She didn't even need to order! Talk about a shave ice regular ^_^
Mochi and Important Toppings
After selecting shave ice flavors, you must decide on toppings. YES! You want toppings.
- If you get a fruity flavor, you want mochi and li hing mui powder
- If you get a non-fruity flavor, I like mochi and snowcap (aka condensed milk drizzle).
Either way, get mochi! It's homemade, so chewy, and only tiny bit sweet. You get eight baby mochi balls with each order.
Azuki bean shave ice bowl (with mochi and ice cream) at Waiola Shave Ice
When I'm feeling extra happy, I order the Azuki Bowl!! It's that photo above. So crazy fun looking, yeah? The Azuki Bowl comes with milk flavor syrup (you can request for a different syrup, but milk makes the most sense for this bowl). It's topped with a big scoop of sweet azuki beans, mochi, and the snowcap (condensed milk drizzle). Super good!
Li hing mui gummy snacks inside the Waiola Shave Ice store
Waiola Shave Ice: Insider Tips
- Parking is available in the back/side of the store, enter on Waiola Street. If that's full, you can still find street parking close by.
- Cash only.
- Know your order by the time you get to the window. They are friendly but the process moves fast (especially if there is a line).
- Don't forget to check out inside the store for little treats and snacks like spam musubi and li hing mui gummy snacks (many people forget to look inside the store, since the whole shave ice purchase happens through the window).
- There are benches to sit and eat your shave ice, but most people just stand/eat on the sidewalk. It's all part of the fun.
Waiola Shave Ice: Info
- Waiola Shave Ice | 2135 Waiola Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826 | 808-949-2269 | waiolashaveice.com
- Price: $3-6 each
- Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10am-6:30pm
Sunday 15th of August 2021
I also concur with Sandy, they are not friendly. The ordering process is confusing for a newcomer, the staff was rudely curt with us and rolled their eyes at us when we tried to order one of the "special" items with a "small" size (special items only come in one size). We also felt this is expensive, but I'm a food critic and make a pretty good Korean Papingsu, so none of this seemed super special to me.
Friday 6th of November 2020
Hi Kathy! So happy I found your blog site. I don’t know if this happens to others, but every single time I’ve been to Waiola’s whether it be the original location or the one in Kapahulu, the owners do not come across as friendly. At all. I understand that it’s busy and I always make my order quickly, but the people taking the orders never look happy, and even sometimes look angry. It’s just not a pleasant experience whenever I go there, other than the tasty, quality shave ice. Being all excited to get yummy shave ice with family and then ugh, the window person. So do you think it’d be fair to say it’s a “con” of going there? No smiles from the people serving you? Hmm...