The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Dredging Waikīkī’s Ala Wai Canal

HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor “Paradise of the Pacific,” which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at April 2001.


Hn2104 Calabash Fof Ala Wai April 2001



“Mucking Around” takes on the topic of dredging the Ala Wai Canal in the wake of complaints about what lurks in its murky waters. “It’s been 22 years since the Ala Wai was partially dredged to its intended depth of 10 to 12 feet. A deeper Ala Wai will better protect O‘ahu’s money-making engine, Waikīkī, while providing a safer venue for canoers and fishing enthusiasts. Right now, some areas are only 4 to 6 feet deep at high tide and canoes ply inches-deep water at low tide, dodging various ‘ōpala including (but not limited too) shopping carts, branches and what appears to be an encrusted hospital bed—obvious accident and/or flood hazards.”


SEE ALSO: It Came From the Ala Wai: 6 Strange Creatures That Thrive in Waikīkī’s Sewage Filled Canal


Well, dredging happened in 2002, then again beginning in 2019 and concluding this year. Now, another Ala Wai project is making news, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is reworking a controversial flood risk management project after huge pushback from the community against an earlier plan that would have condemned residential properties and altered natural streams. With a new Honolulu mayor and a new majority on the Honolulu City Council, we can expect more debate before a final plan gets approved.


SEE ALSO: Can These Muddy-Looking Balls Make the Ala Wai Swimmable?


04 21 Fof Web Covers


Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at



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