Papalani in Hawaiian means “heaven,” and there’s no doubt it exists in a tiny Poipu shopping enclave. Heaven in a chocolate-dipped cone, as it’s called at Papalani Gelato, that’s overflowing with the fresh creamy flavors of the island. As Kauai’s first and only gelato shop, Papalani has no doubt become a hit.
We cool off with gelato every time we’re visiting our Kauai ohana, and every time, there’s an eager group of tourists in line. Some have actually given into the guilty pleasures of gelato everyday of their vacation. Others are first-timers. But by the first few scoops, everyone’s discovered a piece of gelato heaven in Hawaii. My heaven tastes like chocolate banana and blood orange! Mmm, I could go for some right about now.
With a continually expanding recipe book of 300-plus flavors, this local family business has put a Hawaiian spin on the traditional Italian dessert. They use locally-grown ingredients in each frozen delight. Mango, papaya, pineapple and strawberries satisfy the tropical cravings, while kulolo and macadamia nut fulfill the unique tastes of Kauai. One of the most unique ones that’s also become one of the most popular, the salt pond flavor. A mix of butterscotch and sea salt, this gelato is appropriately named after the famous salt pans of Hanapepe called Salt Ponds.
I seem to always find a new favorite flavor when I return to Papalani, which also sells sorbet, smoothies, as well as gelato cakes and pies. But what keeps me coming back is the staff that’s just as sweet and the heaps of aloha found in each and every concoction.
PAPALANI GELATO • Gelato, sorbet, cakes, pies, smoothies • Opens daily 11am-930pm • Poipu Shopping Village, 2360 Kiahuna Plantation Rd., Koloa, HI 96756 • 808-742-2663 • www.papalanigelato.com