A sandy peninsula extending into Honolulu Harbor, Magic Island—more rarely referred to by its official name, Aina Moana—affords rare right-off-the-beach green space with a protected swimming lagoon across from the Ala Moana shopping center in downtown Honolulu. The park is popular for local family barbecues and picnics, and its open 30 acres (12 acres) are fronted by remarkable banyan trees and feature tall palms, picnic tables, and long grassy lawns.
From Magic Island, you can see the green Koolau Mountains and the high rises of Honolulu in one direction, and great views of the resorts of Waikiki—from the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon all the way to Diamond Head Crater—in the other. The space is great for sunbathing, people-watching, and swimming, especially for kids and their parents, who appreciate the shallow, protected lagoon and the presence of a lifeguard. Many boat and helicopter tours float or fly over the scenic park, and some land-based tours by bike and Segway also visit.
Things to Know Before You Go
Magic Island is a must-see for sunbathers and families.
The area offers a free parking lot, but on weekends its 450 spaces fill up fast.
There are three restroom and changing-room blocks staggered throughout the park.
Petty thefts have occured here, so keep an eye on your belongings and don’t leave valuables in your car.
How to Get There
Magic Island is located off Ala Moana Boulevard, in the southeast corner of the larger Ala Moana Beach Park. The park is bordered to the east by the Ala Wai Canal and Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, a departure point for some ocean-based tours, and to the west by Ala Moana Beach Park and Kewalo Basin. The centrally located park is about halfway between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. Bus lines 20, 23, and 42 stop nearby.
When to Get There
Magic Island is great to visit any time between its opening hours of sunrise and sunset—for a morning jog, afternoon picnic and sunbathing session, or sunset barbecue. Due to the park’s location on the island, expect calmer seas in summer months. Each March, the space is consumed with carnival rides and food booths for the three-day Magic Island Carnival.
Magic Island on Memorial Day
Hawaii has a unique Memorial Day tradition: Each year, thousands gather to remember and memorialize all lost loved ones by floating illuminated lanterns in the sea between Magic Island and Ala Moana Beach Park.