By Juan Reyes and Michelle Matsuba
Are you tired of the parks where the grass is green and trees are shady? Are you tired of hiking in the mountains? Are you tired of lying on the grass and have as much as a nice little picnic under the trees and do nothing more? Well, if you love picnicking as well as surfing, swimming, diving, boogie boarding and even snorkeling, I know just the place for it all, Ala Moana Beach Park, on the island of Oahu.
It's hard to believe that this beautiful seventy-six acre park was once a vast swamp that later became the site of the Honolulu garbage dump. In 1931, it was designated as Moana Park with the actual beach and complex completed in 1934. Its name was changed in 1947 to Ala Moana, (The path to the sea.)
Ala Moana Beach Park is not far from anywhere on this island and is very easy to find. From the West and North sides of Oahu get on the H-1 Freeway and head Southbound. Exit the freeway on Kinau and turn right on Ward Avenue. Drive down to the end of Ward Avenue, passing TGI Friday's on the right and the Neal Blaisdell Center on the left. Pass through the intersection of Kapiolani Boulevard and Ward Avenue, driving down the avenue where it meets Ala Moana Boulevard. Here is where you’d make a left turn and head straight past Kewalo Basin on the right where numerous and enormous boats are docked. Your first and immediate right turn are what you'd take next, bringing you to the entrance of this wonderful and welcoming park with its numerous banyan and coconut trees and other native plants.
Driving though to the opposite end of the park, where Magic Island is located, you’ll see the beach stretched out on the right and restrooms, pavilions, and open grassy green fields, (where you can sometimes catch softball games or other sports in progress) on the left. Also, spread out along the left side, at three different locations, are snack shops where delicious plate lunches or a variety of sandwiches and beverages can be purchased. Each snack shop has a diversified menu for the public to choose from.
On the beautiful sandy beach, you'll see a large number of sunbathers, as well as swimmers, surfers, and boogie boarders enjoying the cool, refreshing and inviting water. Even if you've never surfed, dived, snorkeled, boogie boarded, or gone swimming before, Ala Moana Beach Park is a great place to learn. Many people who have never done any of these things before have started here and make it a hobby. The water is usually calm for about the first one hundred yards, and it is also pretty shallow, making it an ideal place to learn.
At the park, many families, couples, and individuals come out to picnic, have lunch during a break in the day, or see the sights and feel the excitement of the ongoing sporting events. Some companies hold their staff picnics here, too. Whatever the case, the people are friendly which makes it a great place to meet new friends.
Across the beach park, and Ala Moana Boulevard, is one of the most famous tourist attractions on the island--Ala Moana Shopping Center. Some people leave the beaches for a while, go shopping and then return for another swim.
Parking is plentiful and the park is not overcrowded on weekdays. Buses stop just outside the park, along Ala Moana Boulevard, for those choosing this mode of transportation. So, if picnics and beaches are what you want on a nice, sunny, warm day, check out Ala Moana Beach Park. Bring a mat, towel, suntan lotion and a picnic basket for a relaxing time at Honolulu's finest beach park.