Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, someone started building a resort adjacent to Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii. The company got as far as making a man-made peninsula aaaaaaaaaaaaaand…. stopped. Rumor has it, they ran out of money. Anyhow, the resort was going to be called “Magic Island,” and when the new peninsula became property of the city, the name stuck and it became a really spiffy park right next to the beach. Now, once upon a time long after that, I lived in Honolulu while working on a terminal degree in theatre performance, and Magic Island became significant in my life as a prime location for extremely low-budget cast parties (for you non-theatre types out there, a cast party is a party that happens just after the closing performance of a play, and is not limited to the cast, but usually includes the entire design and technical crews of a given production, plus guests). Suffice it to say, you can’t do any better for a location than “free and on the beach,” unless perhaps it’s “free and on the beach, and nicely landscaped, and attached to a safe swimming hole blocked off from the ocean with boulders, and featuring picnic tables in the shade of gigantic and beautiful trees.” Magic island is definitely a winner! As with Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island is generally a hangout for locals, and unless it happens to be a major holiday (like Christmas, for example) it is not usually crowded.
I do not believe I have ever been to Magic Island and not easily found a free, shaded picnic table… except for on Christmas. Seriously, if you want a prime location that close to Ala Moana Beach on Christmas, you probably have to show up at six in the morning. Otherwise, though, whether you are a local or a visitor, Magic Island is a great place for a picnic, and if you don’t feel like making your own, it’s right across the street from Ward Center (a mall catering primarily to locals) where you’ll have your choice of any number of different, quite excellent places to pick up take-out. After lunch and a swim in the swimming area, I highly recommend a walk on Ala Moana Beach, which can be a good place to find shells and chunks of coral at low-tide, especially after a storm. What more can you ask for?
That, my friends, is the magic of Magic Island… which is neither magical nor an island in any literal sense. Next time you’re in Honolulu, go ahead and drop by. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed- E.G.D.