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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

ALA MOANA--OUR FAVORITE HONOLULU BEACH


Ala Moana, Oahu
Is this the Hawaii of your imagination?
 In a previous post, I talked about the different stretches of the 1.5 mile long beach known collectively by tourists as Waikiki Beach but known by locals by other names.  If you have to ask directions, it’s best to know those other names as they break down sections of Waikiki Beach. 

The maps you will get in guidebooks or in tourist information pamphlets will break down the sections for you, and they are easy to find.  You may want one section for your daytime activities and another section for your nightlife where you can begin with a stroll along the beach, stop for a drink and a view of a magnificent sunset over the ocean, or an oceanside dinner or evening’s entertainment.  As always, you can wander in from the beach to some of the hotels, and you can enjoy their bars and beachside dining. Walking is the best way to discover the differences.

If you’re traveling with children, you may consider Kuhio Beach next to the Moana Surfrider Hotel which is right past the center of Waikiki Beach where I took photos of the outrigger canoes and surfers. (http://www.thirdagetraveler.blogspot.com/2013/02/beach-goer-dont-miss-honolulus-waikiki.html)  This is the point of quickest access to Waikiki Beach. What’s nice about Kuhio Beach is that there are concrete walls forming two separate and vary calm swimming areas where children might feel safer.  

The area where Rob and I spent the day, in front of the beautiful pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, is known as Grey’s Beach.  It’s canted so it catches the sun’s rays perfectly!

But our favorite Honolulu beach lies outside the Waikiki area.  It is Ala Moana Beach, a town beach lying between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.  Ala Moana, by the way, means “by the sea,” and you will see these words used all over the islands.  Ala Moana is approximately a mile long, so there is plenty of space to enjoy.


Coney Island Beach
This photo by Luna Park Coney Island was taken on
June 23, 2012 in Coney Island, New York.
This might be considered crowded by some,
but this is early in the season.  There is still room
to walk!
 Many of the guide books warn about crowded beaches in Honolulu.  Nowhere we went did we experience what we would term “crowded conditions.”  This, of course, brings me back to my theory of travel relativity.  As I grew up in New York City, I was used to Orchard Beach and Coney Island where we sometimes had to hop over other beachgoer’s blankets in search of a free spot.  That’s how I define crowd.  Waikiki Beach was certainly not empty, but there was plenty of room for everyone. I saw nothing even remotely resembling a crowd on Oahu—not even in Honolulu which is a city.  But if the pictures of Waikiki (http://www.thirdagetraveler.blogspot.com/2013/02/beach-goer-dont-miss-honolulus-waikiki.html) seemed crowded with people to you, look at these photos of Ala Moana. 

Ala Moana, Oahu
Diamondhead watches over this beach too--and the lifeguard stand.
Might things be different in different seasons or on weekends?  Certainly the possibility exists, but seeking out the differences is all part of the travel adventure.


Ala Moana can be reached by The Bus, but we had a car.  There was ample parking facilities as well as street parking.  A road runs along the beach separating it from the other areas of the park.  There are bathhouses and bathroom facilities, gardens and lawns for picnicking, palm trees and magnificent banyan trees with their twisted contours providing shade and a beautiful wide beach.  There is also a music pavilion and concessions. We did not use all the amenities of this 73 acre park, but they include playgrounds, a lagoon, tennis courts, and a yacht harbor.  It’s lovely. 
Ala Moana, Oahu

People in need of special sand navigating wheel chairs can borrow them making this beach accessible to everyone—a wonderful and important aspect of thoughtfulness.  If you’ve ever traveled with someone who had given up the beach and ocean because of the impossibility of walking on the sand, you would see how marvelous these vehicles are.  Additionally there are beach mats leading right to the water.  Follow this link to take a look at these: http://www1.honolulu.gov/parks/programs/beach/index1.htm



Ala Moana, Oahu
Fishing and just enjoying the sun.
Everyone is happy.

Ala Moana, Oahu
Paddleboarders and swimmers
enjoy this ocean here.

Ala Moana, Oahu Ala Moana is actually a man-made beach “by the sea.” It is wide and beautiful.  The sand is not hot beneath our feet.  The atmosphere enhanced by the palm trees close to the streetside border is incredibly inviting and relaxing.  The water is calm almost the entire year because of a lava rock reef set out in the ocean.  But at certain times of the year, the area near the reef is perfect for surfers.   People like to do long distance swimming here in a deep water channel. There is enough ripple for people to stand-up paddleboard, swim, or just float around. 

Some people say this beach is the ideal spot to watch the sun set over the ocean. 

How great is this place?
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