As I often say, the biggest complaint I hear about Oahu is that about its urban landscape and crowds. But, as a local, I think Oahu has a nice balance of scenes. Case in point: Magic Island.
Magic Island is actually a park within a park. Located within the larger Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island is a small, manmade peninsula. Its location on the east end of Ala Moana Beach Park means the park has excellent views of the Waikiki skyline and iconic Diamond Head.
And despite its popularity, Magic Island seldom feels claustrophobic like Waikiki. The area has a lot of wide open space for people to spread out and do their own thing. In fact, the most popular activity you’ll see here is locals exercising. On any given day, you’ll likely see small wedding ceremonies, family get-togethers, etc. Oh, and you see Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Rainbow Tower in the above picture? Right in front of there is where the Hilton holds its Friday night fireworks show. That makes Magic Island a prime viewing spot for this weekly event.
The reason you’ll see so many locals keeping up their exercise routine at Magic Island is its walking/biking/running circuit. On the peninsula itself, you’ll find a mile of paved pathways. Combine these pathways with the sidewalk system encircling the greater Ala Moana Beach Park, and you’ll get a total of about three miles of paved paths.
Of course, the pathways aren’t the only feature of the park you can use to stay in shape. Both Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island has beaches. Ala Moana Beach Park’s beach is much larger; about a quarter mile stretch of golden sand. Magic Island, on the other hand, has a much smaller cove, but its views of Waikiki are hard to beat.
Magic Island’s beach is protected by a seawall, while Ala Moana Beach Park’s beach is protected by a large outer reef, giving both very calm waters. This makes both beaches very popular for swimming, though at Ala Moana Beach Park you’ll often see standup paddle boarders, and even waterboard yoga.
Truth be told, the reason for my most recent visit to the park was to give Biki a try. The park has a number of Biki stations from which you can rent a bike from, or you could ride in from Waikiki and park your bike at a stand. For rates and station location, see my previous post on Biki.
As is the case with other bikeshare programs, you’ll need a debit or credit card to rent a bike. And in this case, once you purchase your rental, you’ll be given a five digit code that you’ll need to punch into one of the bike stands to unlock it. But don’t take too long, as the code is only valid for five minutes.
In our experience, the bikes can also be a bit challenging to get out of their individual stands once unlocked. And if you’re not quick enough, the bike will simply lock back into place and steal your money. Thankfully, that wasn’t an issue this time around.
What was an issue though, was the fact that your’s truly couldn’t find his balance on the bike. You know how they say you never forget a bike? Yeah, I’m calling B.S. on that! Honestly, I was never really all that great at riding bikes anyway. And its been at least 20 years since I last rode one, so yeah…
Not an athletic person? That’s ok too. Magic Island is a great place to just take in the views. I’ve already shared a couple of photos looking towards Waikiki, but the park also has great views of the up-and-coming Kakaako area too.
The park is also a popular place to watch sunset. The views from Magic Island are best, but the view from Ala Moana Beach Park aren’t bad either, which is where these photos were taken from.
Magic Island Final Thoughts
Magic Island is definitely one of my favorite parks on Oahu. Yes, it is still a very urban space, but it does have a lot of wide-open spaces. It’s also a great place to workout or just kickback and relax. The way I see it, the park is like Honolulu’s version of New York’s Central Park. It may not be as big or feature filled, but it fulfills a similar purpose. And if you’re a visitor staying in Waikiki that wants to keep up their exercise routine, this is a great place to do so. The park is less crowded and offers better views. Plus Ala Moana Center is right across the street, so great shopping and numerous dining options are nearby.