Ala Moana Beach Park
In the heart of downtown Honolulu there is a place where city-scape meets beach-scape. A wonder of modern civil engineering, Ala Moana Beach Park consists of 100 acres of green space separating the ocean beach from the city streets. Both the land and the sea were shaped by humans, dating back to the chartering of the park in the 1930's, through land-filling of former wetlands and sand dredging to create the beach during the 1950's. Thus a star attraction was born. Grassy city park across the drive from a long stretch of golden sandy beach has all the amenities. Conveniently located between Waikiki and Honolulu, this park has much to offer, and is the place to be for many local families on the weekends.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Great escape from the hustle of town, beautiful long beach with calm waters, continuous roadside parking all along the beach. Walking distance from Ala Moana Center with shops and restaurants.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, stand-up paddling, beach walking, jogging, surfing, lounging. Adjoining park has tennis courts and green grass fields as well.
LIFEGUARD: YES. 4 lifeguard towers.
WARNINGS!: The beach drops off quickly into the near shore waters, so enter and exit carefully.
AMENITIES: Parking, restrooms, picnic benches, tennis courts, walking path, children's playground at the Magic Island end.
The park lands stretch the length of the shoreline adjacent to Ala Moana Center, the largest outdoor shopping mall in Hawaii. If a walk to the Center for lunch or some "retail therapy", followed by an ocean swim fits your idea of a great vacation day, then this could be your downtown beach of choice.
Ala Moana Park adjoins another park by the name of "Magic Island" at its eastern end. Magic Island has its own additional parking, and is the location of occasional festivals set up on weekends. This "island" is actually a peninsula, and was created during the 1960's as an intended resort property that did not come to be realized. It was converted into a park and offers additional green space, walking paths, children's playground and swimming lagoon at the point.
Ala Moana Beach was manufactured by back-filling the coastline. It is very flat, with golden brown sand, and runs at length into a crescent-shaped bay front that is a favorite-family friendly weekend destination. To lose the crowds consider coming on a weekday instead and heading to the western end of the beach. Scenic Ala Moana Park Drive curves through the park, past large banyan trees, restrooms, tennis courts, and snack concessions. Parking is roadside, and the walk to the sand is short, only a few feet. On the east end of the park there are two reflection pools that connect to a canal linking to a single pond on the western end of the park. There is a path that loops along the canal then heads toward the ocean running the length of the park beach side.
The view from the narrow end of the beach looking east highlights beautiful Diamond Head and the luxurious oceanfront high-rises of Waikiki, with Magic island in the foreground. Being at Ala Moana beach doesn't feel like being in the city, as the park's luxurious green buffer creates ample distance from the town noises.
The ocean here is mild, with little or no wave action close to shore, creating kid-friendly water environment, as well as a good swim spot for long swims. Stand-up paddlers also favor this flat water for practice. Fronting the beach there is a former boat channel dredged back in the 1920's, now used primarily for swimming. It is 1000 yards long and 10 to 20 foot deep. Outer reefs break the waves far from shore with good beginner to intermediate surf breaks. Closer to the shore a swimmers' channel was cut through the reef.
Ocean safety link for Ala Moana:
Here is a video link for Ala Moana:
Closest town: Honolulu
- Off Ala Moana Boulevard.
- Entry from the West is between Ward Avenue and Queen street off Ala Moana Boulevard. Head towards the ocean onto Ala Moana Park Boulevard
- The Diamond Head (East) entrance is from Atkinson Drive, which turns into Ala Moana Park Boulevard on the ocean side of Ala Moana Boulevard.