The name for a particular beach park as well as the area in which the park is located, Ala Moana can be considered that stretch of coastline between Honolulu Harbor, the state's largest commercial harbor, and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor a state-run harbor for private vessels and home of the Hawaii and Waikiki Yacht Clubs.
Although the Waikiki coastline holds the edge over Ala Moana when it comes to sandy beaches and swimming conditions, the less crowded side of Oahu's south shore holds a greater appeal to locals and tourists wanting to put some distance between themselves and the "wall-to-wall" people enjoying Waikiki.
In the center of the Ala Moana coastline is Ala Moana Beach Park, bordered on the east by the Ala Wai Harbor and Kewalo Basin, a small commercial harbor for many of Oahu's sport fishing charter boats and dinner cruise boats.
The park includes a stretch of beach just over a kilometer long. A reef, which begins approximately 100 meters from the shore protects the inshore waters making it an ideal place for ocean lap swimming (there are 500 meter and 1,000 meter markers for swimmers to gauge their distances.) The reef which runs the length of the beach stretches seaward for approximately four hundred meters before it starts to drop in depth, an ocean contour that causes incoming swells to crest and break to the delight of surfers along this side of the island!
At high tide, the inner portion of the reef is submerged approximately two feet while during low tide, the depth decreases to a few inches making for excellent reef walking or tide pooling.
The lagoon at Ala Moana Park, sheltered by the reef and just over 1,000 meters long, offers calm waters for swimming and is popular for lap swimming!
One of my favorite areas in the Ala Moana area is Kakaako Waterfront Park, the stretch of coastline between Honolulu Harbor and Kewalo Basin.
As a kid, this was one of those secret areas that we'd go to for surfing and Bodysurfing as it wasn't a pleasant place for anyone except surfers and die-hard fishermen (for fishing we'd go to other places.) Here was located one of the city's incinerators and a fish processing plant.
Now the entire area, with its seawall beach front, is a park with picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and a large hill offering great views and an incline conducive to cardboard sliding... my kids actually enjoy sliding down the hill more than anything the water has to offer over here!
Jumping into the water from the seawall at Kakaako Waterfront Park puts you within a few strokes to some of the best bodysurfing in the state, Point Panics. Unlike the better-known bodysurfing beaches, Sandy Beach, and Makapuu Beach, Point Panics offers a beautifully-formed right with one of the longest rides in the state.
A short paddle across the adjacent Kewalo Basin channel puts you into the surf lineup of Kewalo Point, a spot which offers great lefts for the goofy-footers in the bunch!
Because of its elevation from the ocean and its close proximity to the surf breaks, Kakaako Waterfront Park is a photographer's dream for surf photography without having to get wet! Facing west, the entire Ala Moana coastline offers excellent opportunities for sunset shots as well as miles of beautiful coastline to fish, swim, dive, and sail.
Ala Moana is a hot spot for real estate in Hawaii as the panoramic views of the south shore and walk-to-anything convenience makes these high-rises very desirable!