Ala Wai Boulevard is a 1.5-mile-long route that lines the tranquil manmade canal of the same name, just a 10-minute walk north of Waikiki Beach. It has a oneway, moderately trafficked 4-lane road that stretches from Kapahulu Avenue to Kalakaua Avenue as well as a canalside path.

A long row of palm trees separates the road and canal, and the long and smooth pathway is great for serene morning walks. It’s also a favorite spot among local joggers and cyclists and serves as an escape if you’re looking for waterfront views without the bustles of Waikiki Beach.

Ala Wai Boulevard in Honolulu - one of the highlights of 10 Most Popular Streets in Honolulu (Read all about Honolulu here)

A brief history of Ala Wai Boulevard and Canal

Before Ala Wai Canal came into existence, Waikiki was a slightly swampy wetland that various streams flowed through from the surrounding mountain valleys. The canal was proposed in the early 1900s to help drain the area but construction was delayed and only completed in 1928.

The canal itself is 2 miles long and, in its early days, hundreds of local paddlers and boaters would have fun on its waters. It was even one of the most used inland waterways in Hawaii. However, the canal became Honolulu’s massive drainage ditch and its recreational use decreased.

Despite challenges faced in terms of flooding and hygiene, dredging and various efforts have been carried out to help keep the canal clean. You can still see The Honolulu Rowing Club offering recreational sculling – you can find their single- and double-sculls at the Ala Wai Community Park.

Honolulu’s local authority introduced its Complete Streets program in 2021, which looked to further transform Ala Wai Boulevard with a street design that greatly improves accessibility. The facelift was planned in conjunction with a roadway repaving project.

What are the highlights and features of Ala Wai Boulevard?

Ala Wai Boulevard and the canal add to the pleasant view if you’re staying at any of the top-floor rooms and suites of the many hotels along its length. The eastern half of the canal features the lush greens and well-groomed fairways of the 18-hole Ala Wai Golf Course.

At the western end of the canal, you can stop to admire the humungous Hawaii Convention Center, which hosts everything from sporting events to beauty pageants and political shindigs. If you’re feeling peckish, several tempting eateries line the stretch of the main road.

photo by 808Talk (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Good to know about Ala Wai Boulevard

The Honolulu Rowing Club’s sculling usually takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, as well as Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. The canal is a great spot for an early morning jog, especially thanks to its minimal traffic.

You can feed the tilapia, of which there are many, from the banks of the canal. The night views of the canal are cool with the city lights reflecting off its surface. Even so, the evenings along the canal during certain times of the year can be unbearable due to flying and biting bugs. Windier times are pleasant as no highrise building blocks the breeze.

Ala Wai Boulevard in Honolulu

Location: 2211 Ala Wai Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler