Ala Wai Canal

The Ala Wai Canal, taken from the bridge on Ala Moana Boulevard

The Ala Wai Canal in Honolulu is a man-made canal that was constructed during the 1920’s to drain extensive coastal wetlands for the development of the district. Ala Wai Canal stretches for two miles through Waikiki near the end of the Ala Wai watershed.

The Ala Wai Canal forms the boundary of the Waikiki district, separating Waikiki form the Makiki, Moilili, and Ala Moana areas of Honolulu. 

The Ala Wai Canal is 3,100 meters in length, varies in width from about 51 meters to 83 meters, and varies in depth from 5 meters to only a few centimeters. There are three bridges across the canal, and the length of the makai side of the canal is spanned by a concrete tree-lined sidewalk.

The canal is listed as an impaired water body under the Clean Water Act due to numerous pollutants including nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment, metals, pathogens and pesticides, which derive from the communities and neighborhoods in between the mountain forests and coastal waterways.

Despite significant human health issues associated with poor water quality, the Ala Wai Canal system—including the contributing streams and upland trail systems—has been identified as a regionally outstanding recreational resource. Fishing and paddling sports are popular, and the canal has the largest concentration of canoe clubs in the state. The promenade is heavily used for walking, running, biking and commuting.