Ala Moana Beach Waikiki | Then and Now

Ala Moana Beach Park

The ancient Hawaiians had fish ponds here and grew taro. A president came for opening day. Throughout the years, Ala Moana Beach has become a gathering place on Oahu for its 100 acre city park, wide sandy beach and beautiful vistas of Diamond Head and Waikiki. It’s very popular with visitors and locals alike and sits across from Ala Moana Shopping Center.

roosevelt in hawaiiAla Moana Beach history

In the early 1900’s Ala Moana Beach Park was a wetland area used as a garbage dump. That was a far cry from its days as Kalia where Hawaiians had fish ponds and grew taro. In the 1930’s the area was first designated as “Moana Park” and saw President Franklin D. Roosevelt take part in its opening. The name was later changed to Ala Moana, which means, “Path to the sea.”

The beach and swimming channel were created through dredging by a company which needed a place to dispose of voluminous amounts of earth.

A great hangout for every reason

The beach has so many activities and features. It is popular for fishing, jogging, model airplanes and boats, sunbathing, standup and regular surfing and more. And if you get bored and want an almost unlimited number of options for food or shopping, just head across the street to the mall. The park’s amenities include:

  • Lifeguards
  • BBQ’s and picnic tables
  • Restrooms/showers
  • Tennis Courts
  • Food concessions
  • Meeting facilities and music pavilion

Always good conditions

With rare exception, the enormously popular half mile long beach features a gentle  gentle slope and year round calm conditions because of its reef protection. Popular with long distance swimmers (like me) and kids alike, I almost never miss a chance to swim at Ala Moana when in Honolulu. In that I’m not alone, as Ala Moana is without doubt the single most popular swimming beach in Hawaii.

Magic Island

At the Waikiki end of Ala Moana park and next to to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor sits this small, charming man made island with lagoon and beach. Magic Island was completed in the 1960’s and was originally to be the site of a hotel that included two more man made islands.  The project was stopped and the result is this beautiful extension of Ala Moana.

Magic Island is great for sunset walks on its circular path, or swimming in its protected waters. It’s also the site of many of Honolulu’s annual cultural events. There’s a sand beach and lagoon popular with kids and sunbathers. Surfers are attracted to a spot at the end of the island, and occasional scuba divers are seen as well.

Parking Tips and Don’t Lose Your Key

Parking is free and easier to find during the week. On Saturday or Sunday get here early or come later in the day. I removed my car rental key from the ring and lost it somewhere in the 100 acre park. Don’t do this! I didn’t realize the key was missing until after my swim. With 100 acres to cover, I felt it was hopeless. Believe it or not, I  carefully retraced my steps and found the key in the sand. Amazing!

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  1. Grant says

    This is totally unrelated to this post; but we are planning a trip to New York City. We have stayed in hotels before and are considering the VRBO route. I recall seeing a post by you about your stay in New York City (Bryant Park?) but could not locate the post. Could you refresh my recollection about where you stayed and how you booked it and the different booking services you considered.



  2. Marsha says

    I thought maybe you were using that new web photo feature that makes pictures look like antique postcards. It is really popular these days.

    I am out almost $2,500.00 because I neglected to do so.
    The rental agents are strictly by the book, no aloha on emergency rebooking – my father in law died unexpectedly and I didn’t buy insurance.

  3. Marsha says

    I love the look of your new photos – are you experimenting with one of the new photo software programs ?

    • says

      Hi Marsha.

      We finally started paying more attention to the photos and getting them ready for web publishing. We have a graphic artist in-house who said we needed to get them looking better. Mostly lightening them, and adjusting them to what we actually saw, using Photoshop.

      Thanks. Hope we can still meet you at some point.