A Look At The Ala Wai Canal
The Hawaiian name translates to “fresh water way”. The canals story gives me a chance to talk about the rain here. In the Honolulu and Waikīkī area’s, the annual rainfall will average about 12 inches. If you look to the far distance, you will see the Koolau Mountains.
These mountains can average up to 200 inches of rain each year. With all that rain coming out of the mountains, threw Manoa Valley, and ending in Waikiki it’s easy to understand that Waikīkī use to be an agricultural wetland. A hundred years ago all you would have found in Waikīkī was rice, taro, and fish ponds.
The canal was part of the Waikīkī Reclamation Project and was completed by the Dillingham family and their company in the late 1920’s. The purpose of the canal is to divert all that rainwater into the ocean and, at 2.5 miles by 150 feet, that’s exactly what it does. The canal is the reason that all the hotels and everything else you see in Waikīkī can exist. The canal was originally going to empty into the ocean at each end but due to a lack of funds, the second outlet was never completed.
As you cross over the bridge at the Ala Wai Canal, take a look to the left. Ever seen this view before? If you are, or have ever been a fan of the TV series “Gilligan’s Island” you should remember the SS Minnow leaving from this harbor.
Ala Wai Boat Harbor. Ala Wai Boat Harbor was dredged during the late 1940’s and contains about 700 mooring slips. There is an extremely long waiting list of over 2,000 boat owners who would like to dock here. The entrance of the harbor or channel is dredged to 22 feet but the interior depth of the harbor may vary from 8 to 20 feet deep. All sailboats are warned not to enter the harbor under wind power because the winds in the harbor are effected by the tall buildings surrounding it. Because of these buildings the winds frequently tend to change direction and velocity.
The off shore area is very popular with surfers. The coral beds formation causes the waves to break in certain ways forming different wave shapes. Because of the coral formation the depths will vary from 3 feet to 42 feet just a few hundred feet off shore.