Ala Moana means “The Path to the Sea.” The park is 100 acres of banyan trees, baobab trees, palm trees and grass, making it a nice area for picnics with family and friends. Quite a change from the duck-ponds, taro ponds, fishponds and wetlands that used to cover this entire area!
The half-mile long beach is covered in golden sands. Its calm waters make it a great swimming spot for little children, tikis and long-distance swimmers. The water is calm because of an outer reef but the ocean bottom quickly drops so beginners are advised to take extra caution. Some of the south shore’s most famous surfing sites are found offshore at the edge of the reef, including Big Rights, Concessions, Courts, Big Lefts, and Baby Hale’iwa. In addition to swimming and surfing, the waters are very popular with paddle-boarders.
The east end of the channel in front of Ala Moana Park was closed in the early 1960′s and a landfill project added a 30-acre peninsula to Ala Moana Beach Park. That peninsula was called “Magic Island” and it was suppose to be the home of a new resort area that would have included two additional “islands.” That project never got off the around and eventually the area became a public park. The name of Magic Island was officially changed to Aina Moana Park in 1972, which means “land from the sea”, but locals still call it Magic Island.
Ala Moana Shopping Center opened across the street from Ala Moana Park in 1959 with 87 stores filling 680,000 square feet on two levels. Today Ala Moana Center is more the 2 million square feet in size.
Some scenes from both “Blue Hawaii” and “Paradise Hawaiian Style” were filmed at Ala Moana. In one scene, Maile is going to be stopped by a policeman. She turns left, off Ala Moana Blvd, into the park and actually stops a very short distance further on, in the park. I wish I could have been in an Elvis movie!
Ala Moana Beach Park is a great place to watch Friday Night Fireworks, hang out at the beach or go to a picnic!