While living in ‘A‘ali‘i offers a variety of amazing perks, one of the biggest is in its own backyard: Ala Moana Beach Park. Most locals know Ala Moana Beach Park as a local, weekend spot for potlucks, birthday parties and beach days. But there’s a lot you might not know about this 76-acre gathering place just across the street from Ward Village. Here are 10 little-known facts about one of ‘A‘ali‘i’s biggest amenities.
10. Ala Moana Beach Park is completely man-made and built on coral reef. The channel in front of the beach was originally dredged for boat traffic in the 1920’s. It’s the shallow reef offshore that makes it one of the most popular swimming beaches in Hawai‘i.
9. Originally called Moana Park, President Franklin D. Roosevelt attended opening ceremonies for the park while in Honolulu in 1934.
8. For joggers, bikers and dog-walkers it’s a 2.56-mile trek around the entire park. Or if you prefer to jog on the beach, you’ll cover 1.25 miles of shoreline.
7. The name of the park was changed to Ala Moana Beach Park in 1947. “Ala Moana” means “path to the sea” in Hawaiian.
6. If you’re looking to try something new, consider lawn bowling. A “Lawn Bowling Green” was built in the park in the 1930’s near the Tennis Courts. The Honolulu Lawn Bowls Club was formed in 1974 and is still active today. You can even get a free lesson on Saturday mornings. Many visitors from Canada, Australia and New Zealand drop in for a game, where the sport is popular. Learn more at honolululawnbowls.com.
5. Made from dredged, coral fill, Magic Island was completed in 1964 and was supposed to be the first phase of a resort hotel complex. But public opposition stopped the project and by 1970, it became the Magic Island we know and love. Magic Island’s formal name is “‘Āina Moana State Recreation Area.”
4. Completed in 1975, McCoy Pavilion is named after Charles Lester McCoy, the Honolulu Park Board Chairman who shepherded the construction of the park, and who was a big influence on Honolulu park design in the 1930’s. It was funded by his wife, Hazel Corning McCoy upon her death in 1968.
3. Robert Weyeneth, a professor at the University of Hawaii published a report for the Department of Parks and Recreation in 1987 called “The People’s Park.” In it, he notes some interesting proposals for Ala Moana Beach Park that never came to light including an ocean terminal, a location for the State Convention Center, and an amusement park at Magic Island that included an artificial volcano.
2. Ala Moana Beach Park’s biggest annual events include 4th of July Fireworks and the Lantern Floating Ceremony on Memorial Day, both just a short walk away from the Ward Village neighborhood.
1. Ala Moana Beach Park is currently in the middle of a major renovation by the City and County of Honolulu. A variety of projects have been proposed and are planned to go into effect over the next five to ten years, including expanding biking and jogging paths, a children’s playground, and increasing park staff. But you can already see improvements today, including new sand volleyball courts and initial tree plantings. You can learn more about the future of Ward Village’s backyard at ouralamoanpark.com.
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