Rod Lau is a “local boy” a term meaning he was born and raised
in Hawaii. Growing up on Oahu, then later living on the Big Island
and Kauai, Lau has etched a 38-year career in the hospitality
industry. These days, he is director of sales at the venerable
Kauai Marriott Beach Resort & Beach Club. From his early days
in the front office to his current position in hotel sales, Lau
commends the industry’s multi-level sharing aspect.
“People like me who worked from the ground up to leadership
positions are now teaching what we learned to others,” he
explained. “The hospitality business and Hawaii is a perfect
marriage, thanks to our aloha spirit.”
Relocating to mellow Kauai in 1997, Lau has appreciated the Garden
Isle’s easy pace.
“On Kauai, you can go to beaches where you might see only a single
set of footprints,” Lau said. “As a kid, I did that on Oahu. I’d go
out to Kaaawa and enjoy the natural playground.”
While most island traditions have remained with Lau regardless of
where he lives, one stands out. Years and locales have never
quenched his craving for shave ice.
Similar to a snow cone but more refined, this traditional island
sweet treat is a colorful concoction of ice shaved by blades to a
fine powder, shaped into a cone or bowl and topped with a flurry of
fruity flavors. Other accoutrements enhancing the syrupy creation
may include vanilla ice cream at the bottom, evaporated milk,
chocolate syrup or Asian azuki beans on top. Lau, however, prefers
the natural route.
“I’d eat it plain. Really, the cold was what I was after,” he
said. “Nothing could beat a shave ice after body surfing at Sandy’s
or Makapuu. After a long day in the sun ... nothing was
These days, Lau hits the greens instead of the surf. His reward is
often a bowl of noodle soup at Hamura’s in Lihue, followed by shave
“It’s a great way to finish off the meal,” he said. “The thing
about shave ice is that there was never just a shave ice stand. It
was always made at a place where they also sold other things. Or it
might be in the window at a general store.”
On the road, Lau has favorites on neighbor islands as well.
“When my wife and I travel to the Big Island to visit friends in
Hilo, we’ll go for shave ice at Wilson’s and Itsu’s,” Lau said.
As for his Oahu yearnings, mom-and-pop Matsumoto in Haleiwa does
“I always go with strawberry or root beer,” he noted.
Lau places the shave ice experience on his “gotta do” list for
island visitors because it’s so unique.
“It really crosses all the generation lines,” he pointed out.
“Little ones and adults all love it. Many times I remember an adult
carrying three or four cones and spreading them around for the
whole family. It’s the perfect tourist attraction meal. It’s
universal in its appeal.”
Itsu’s Fishing Supplies
810 Piilani St., Hilo
Wilson’s by the Bay
224 Kamehameha Hwy., Hilo
Hamura’s Shave Ice
2956 Kress St., Lihue
Aoki Shave Ice
66-117 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa
2135 Waiola St., Honolulu