By Michelle Railey
I love Dole Whip.
There. I said it.
I confess it for the ages; I stand open-hearted in front of the world. I LOVE DOLE WHIP.
I love it at Disney World. I love it at state fairs. I love it in Vegas. But most of all, I love it in Hawaii.
Now, it’s crazy, I know, but Dole Whip hasn’t always existed. In fact, it debuted in 1984 (specifically at both a restaurant trade show and at Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room locations). But in the sense that perfection is eternal, we’ll pretend Dole Whip is eternal, too. Because what is perfection if not madre freakin’ Dole Whip (preferably the original pineapple, although swirls are acceptable, and there are nine other flavors: mango, cherry, lemon, watermelon, orange, raspberry, strawberry, lime, and coconut).
So, lately, a girl I know was in Hawaii. (Okay, I’m the girl. It me.) The entire goal for my bargain trip may have been to max myself out on Dole Whips.
Oh, dear Internets, how far short I fell!
In my defense, I did not have a car and wasn’t always alone, therefore my time and travel was not entirely my own. And, if you can believe it, not everyone is as focussed on Dole Whip as I. (weirdos)
Sadly, I only managed five Dole Whips. This fell far short of my “magical three (per day)” strategy.
But here ya go: A guide to my sadly short and insufficient Dole Whip life on O’ahu.
Dole Whip Number One: Barefoot Beach Cafe
Located at a very nice spot at Queen’s Beach (Waikiki Beach area), Barefoot Beach had a big sign reading ”Dole Whip.” BUT, as delicious as this refreshing pineapple something was, it was not OFFICIAL DOLE WHIP. Lesson learned: look for the official Dole Whip posters and symbols. I still enjoyed this imposter which was just, like, frozen pineapple juice shot through a nozzle into a cup. Maybe it was more of a sorbet or a frozen juice delite. It wasn’t Dole Whip. So, skip the ”Dole Whip” at this place. But get instead? Their unsweet tea: which is actually a fruited tea with Hawaiian fruits and is bonkers good (to drink; not bonkers good as a substitute for our lord and savior Dole Whip).
Dole Whip Number Two: Dole Plantation
Yeah, it’s the official stuff. Plus a gift shop, garden, koi pond, train, and garden maze. Totes legit. The real deal. The real DoleTM. There are chickens and cats in the gardens and they don’t charge extra to hang out with them.
Dole Whip Number Three: Frost
Frost is a big winner in so many ways. For one, it’s a two minute drive from one of the most beautiful beaches on O’ahu (and the planet). (Google this one. Kailua is right next to Lanikai Beach and these two together are frequently called the two most beautiful beaches on the island by those who know and I’m going to concur on that.*) But back to Frost, next, it’s a fro-yo bar that has Dole Whip. You can swirl it with other flavors, add fresh-cut kiwi fruits, Cap’n Crunchberries, whatever you want. The world is your oyster here. The only imperative is to get yourself some Dole Whip. (We’re gonna recommend the weird crunchberry addition, seriously). Pay by the pound. As a bonus, it’s an artsy eclectic space with a cute play area and fun ”snowflake” lighting. Highly recommend.
Dole Whip Number Four: Kai Fresh Poke and Drink**
Okay. So this is another official Dole Whip so it’s perfect. Directly across the street from the gorgeous Moana Surfrider, this little outpost sits next to the pool for Sheraton’s Princess Kaiulani hotel. Limited seating; used to be a food truck and still has that feel. It’s apparently super well-known for its shaved ices and acai bowls. With Dole Whip on the menu, we weren’t even noticing. Oh yeah, or caring. But we’re sure they’re wonderful, too.
Dole Whip Number Five: Lawson Station
This one is also on the ever-popular main strip of Waikiki Beach near Luxury Row and next door to the Moana Surfrider. They offer shaved ice, hot dogs, and soft serve, including official freaking Dole Whip in two flavors. When I was there, it was mango on offer, and they convinced me to get it swirled with the original. Reader, I loved that. Lawson’s was a little less expensive than Kai Fresh, for what it’s worth, and there were a couple options for swirled Dole Whips (vanilla, mango Dole whip, or a berry fro yo), so we prefer Lawson’s, easily. If we’d had a couple more hours to linger at the Surfrider (and there are never enough to linger at the Surfrider), we’d have had at least a very delicate and elegant twelve more servings of Dole Whip at Lawson’s. Alas, our ride didn’t care what we wanted.***
Where Else, Homie?
You can get Dole Whip so many other places on O’ahu. For one thing, some of the ubiquitous ABC Stores have a self-serve Dole Whip option in their stores. For another, wherever you are on the island, you can type into your phone’s search engine and/or map feature ”Dole Whip Near Me” and it will happily provide you with places to get Dole Whip. (Again, though, we’re going to warn that you should look for a poster or sign with the actual Dole logo because, as Barefoot Beach Cafe taught us, not every Dole Whip purveyor is an actual Dole Whip purveyor.) Caveat emptor, if you know what I mean.
(*) We could actually make a reasonable case for Waimānalo Beach as one of the most beautiful but that would merit another post.
(**) This should actually be pre-empted by Leppert’s at Hilton’s Hawaiian Village but, due to supply issues, Leppert’s was out of Dole Whip that day. Worth a visit to the Hawaiian Village and all but, man, did it ever lose some sparkle without that damn Dole Whip. Money really can’t buy everything, Hilton, just think about that.
(***) The (car) ride was our husband so we feel perfectly justified in denigrating that guy’s so-called ”concerns” and “not wanting to hang around forever after working all day” and stuff.