by Laurie Higashi
Saturday, February 20, was National Love Your Pet Day, and to celebrate, Gecko Girlz Shave Ice in the Coconut Grove Marketplace in Kona hosted a pet adoption event along with the Hawaii Animal Kuleana Alliance (HAKA). The event featured dogs from Kohala Animal Relocation and Education Service (KARES) and Kona Adopt-A-Dog. It was a rousing success, with several dogs getting adopted or put into foster! It was the perfect day for Gecko Girlz to introduce their new puppuccinos, made with house-made whipped cream and topped with Milkbone dog biscuit sprinkles. Puppuccinos are free for your canine buddy when you visit Gecko Girlz.
Formerly known as Big Island Sweet Treats, Gecko Girlz was planning to move from the Ali’i Gardens Marketplace in Kona to the Coconut Grove Marketplace in February of 2020, but was not able to open in the new location until October due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Co-owner Jennifer Rushing said the main reason for the move was to attract a larger local audience and connect on a community level, which was difficult in the old location since it catered mostly to tourists. She used the down time during the pandemic to build out the space and completely revamp the menu. Jennifer hand-makes all of the syrups and highlights local, seasonal, and tropical flavors. In addition to traditional flavors (such as lilikoi, coconut, and mango), she also has a line of natural flavors like Yuzu citrus and Nuuanu lychee made with 100% natural coloring. Fans of the previous incarnation can still get their old favorites by ordering ‘secret menu’ items like the Coconut Joy (haupia ice cream and chocolate drizzle topped with coconut flakes).
My husband Mark and I got to sample a couple of items from the Artisanal Creations menu. As a fan of the cocktail of the same name, I couldn’t resist trying the Lava Flow – haupia ice cream, Kula strawberry and pineapple syrups, strawberry puree, topped with coconut cream snow cap and a cascade of popping pearls made to look like lava flowing down the side. Mark opted for the Lilikoi Sour with vanilla ice cream, yuzu citrus sour syrup, lilikoi puree, mochi, and li hing mui powder. Both options were beautiful in presentation, delicious, and really hit the spot on a warm Kona day. As an added bonus, there’s a beautiful ocean view from the seating area just above the recently remodeled sand volleyball court. It would be a great place to take in a Kona sunset while enjoying a sweet treat from Gecko Girlz.
While National Love Your Pet Day marked the introduction of the puppuccino to the line-up, Jennifer has a lot more up her sleeve in the next couple of months. She’ll be rolling out on-line ordering soon, a mobile trailer for events and parties is in the works, and smoothies will be returning, as well as earlier hours and new additions to the menu. Between the delectable cool treats and the beautiful views, I’m looking forward to making Gecko Girlz a regular stop on our west-side visits.