Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shave Ice- Oahu

Island Snow- Kailua

YUM! This place really had the "powdery ice" you always hear described. Every flake was fluffy and light and didn't stick together at all. It was easy to scoop, it melted with deliciousness, and the flavor was amazing. I asked the guy to give me whatever was the best and I got lilikoi, pineapple, and mango. (Kailua Beach Ctr, Kailua, HI 96734, 808-263-6339)

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Waiola Shave Ice

A close tie for second for me (my husband insists it was #1), this incredibly remote spot had ice the same consistency as cotton candy. I tried their classic rainbow combination with blue vanilla (YUM), banana, and strawberries, with mochi balls. Delicious is just the only way to describe it. They're located on the side of a building in a residential area of Honolulu. (2135 Waiola St., 808-949-2269)

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Giovanni's Shrimp Shack

I don't actually remember if this place had a separate name and/or business than Giovanni's Shrimp Shack, but it was located in a trailer next to it. Delicious! Super flake ice, and plenty of syrup. It was the most expensive of all the places, but well worth it. I got the blue Hawaii, pineapple, and strawberry here. (83 Kamehameha Highway, Kahuku, HI 96731)

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International Market Place, Honolulu

Another delicious and flakey icy treat that I devoured on the beach. Blue Hawaii, pineapple, and passion fruit goodness!

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Matsumoto Shave Ice

Although this is perhaps the most famous shave ice spot on the island, it has a big thumbs down for me. There was nothing special about it for me. The ice was not fluffy but difficult. Not horrible, but nothing to write home about. This was by far the most crowded of the all the spots, but really nothing special. (66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712)

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Aiko Shave Ice

To be fair, the main reason I hated this cone was because of the Adzuki beans I tried- I don't know what the Hawaiians are thinking, these things are disgusting! I threw my cup away immediately. However, the shave ice itself was barely mediocre. The ice froze in clumps and the syrup drained well before I had a few bites. (66-117 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712)

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Oahu, Hawaii

Returning from eight days in Oahu to a week of rainy gray drab in Seattle, my husband and I are already missing the laid back lifestyle of the islands, and of course, weather warm enough to enjoy a daily dose of shave ice.
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Being the avid LOST fans we are, our first order of business after landing was to immediately check out all the sites where LOST was filmed. If you ever want to feel like a big dork, try acting normal while you pose excitedly in front of a random chicken shack, or acting like you aren't a felon while taking pictures of the lobby of a closed bank. We were pleasantly surprised to find most of the settings still up at Police Beach, the main site of filming for the show. After talking to a few locals over the week, we learned that although there are only a few episodes left, filming is still going! We even managed to get a shot of an upcoming scene...

(Spoilers: in an upcoming epsiode there will be a dingy shack!)


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The highlight of our trip would have to be the Morning Wildlife Charter through Wild Side Eco-Adventures. This group was fantastic! The crew members are all marine biologists with a deep understanding of all the creatures we encountered. The boat itself was a mild ride set against the gorgeous island background. We began by snorkeling in a bay that was approximately 20-30 feet deep and clearer than air itself. For those who have a weird phobia of snorkeling like myself, this is a perfect location to get over your fear of tiny fish and cloudy water. In this bay, the fish were decently sized and so visible, it was just a wonder to watch them all. An abundance of bright yellow and blue creatures set up against the coral reef floor created a picturesque scene. We even saw a few green sea turtles swimming around.

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Next, we moved up the coast a bit to meet up with a pod of dolphins we saw earlier. This dive was quicker than the snorkel because we all had to jump ship in seconds and travel as fast as our flippers allowed up to keep up with the dolphins. 

For me personally, the coolest aspect of the swim was hearing the dolphins communicating with each other. Their highly phonetic nature is fascinating, and I'm so excited that I was able to experience a glimpse at them in their natural habitat instead of in captivity.

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On our way back to the harbor we witnessed two great sites- First, we ran into a Monk Seal in the water enjoying an eel. These seals are a rare site, endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The crew themselves had only seen a monk seal once before, and we were lucky enough to get within a few feet on this guy, as he was preoccupied with his lunch. Lastly, we spotted a whale spouting water as it made its descent underwater.

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Another awesome experience on this trip was the shark dive with North Shore Shark Adventures. With the rough waters happening three miles offshore (we learned that the tour company is frowned upon by the state and is fighting to not be shut down, so they conduct their dives in international waters), our dive was canceled once and just barely allowed the last time we tried. The tour is exactly what it sounds like: a few people jump in a cage and observe the sharks swimming around them while trying to keep their limbs behind metal bars- which sounds easier than it really was! The water really was incredibly rough. I stayed in one spot in the cage so I wasn't pounded repetitively against the metal bars, limbs shooting out into the shark's reach.

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The cage we dived in.

But honestly, the dive was completely safe and wickedly awesome. There's nothing like being within ten feet of a dozen sharks to get the blood pumping, especially when this fellow kept performing the slow side stalk along our cage:

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A lot of companies conducting these tours throw chum over the side of the boat to attract the animals to us, but in our case, they were already present- stealing from nearby fishing boats, but still present.

Other highlights included:

Paradise Found Cafe: a vegetarian/vegan shop shoved in the back of a health food store- best.food.ever! Well, best food on the island that I was able to eat. It was located on the North Shore and crowded with locals, but I still made this place the location of a good four or five meals.

Shrimp Shacks- my husband really enjoyed these two famous shrimp shacks alone the side of the main highway, while I tried not to gag (I hate shrimp, even looking at it).

Beaches- We spent most of our beach time at Waimea Bay Beach, mostly because that is where we kept ending up. It was interesting, the waves were the largest I've ever seen, but they rose and crashed right at the water's edge, which I've also never seen before. I'm used to seeing the Atlantic Ocean with a good couple-of-yards-buffer before the mild waves break. We also did a stint at the incredibly small Waikiki Beach and a day at Hanauma Bay.

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Also while at Waimea Bay Beach, we "hiked" down to the Waimea waterfall, which is said to have magical healing powers from the iron oxide flowing into the water from the volcanic rocks in surrounding areas. The Audubon center was absolutely gorgeous:

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To hear about my adventures with Oahu's famous shave ice, read here.

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