Posted tagged ‘Waikiki’

Ala Wai reimagined

September 11, 2018

I was excited to learn that we’re turning our attention to revitalizing the Ala Wai in Honolulu.

Ala Pono: An Ala Wai Crossing” is looking at the ways residents and visitors move between the neighborhoods of Waikīkī, Ala Moana, and McCully/ Mōʻiliʻili. The goal is to make our community safer and more convenient for people, bicyclists, and motor vehicles, including emergency personnel.

Pedestrian bridge. I can envision a pedestrian bridge spanning the Ala Wai. A beautifully arched white bridge, similar in architecture to the smaller bridges at Ala Moana Beach Park, could add a feeling of elegance and historic charm to the canal. Or a clear plexiglass bridge, an ala aopua‘a (cloud path), could connect land, water, and sky and create a sense of freedom and awe.

But the “Complete Streets” project wouldn’t be complete without reimagining the Ala Wai. As it is, the canal is minimally landscaped and functional. But it could be so much more.

Floating gardens. What if there were floating gardens along the canal? Aquatic plants could both beautify the canal and clean the water of carbon dioxide and algae.

Hanging gardens. What if we created hanging gardens, with trellises arching over parts of the canal or growing along canal walls? This could enhance the open spaces, create more privacy, and clean the air of carbon dioxide and pollutants.

Murals and sculptures. What if we built “art nooks” along pedestrian and bicycle pathways? By displaying the works of local Hawaii artists, we could give people a reason to leisurely walk or bike along the Ala Wai Canal, and something to talk about as they continue their journey.

Canoe rides. What if we created a student-run program to offer canoe rides between the Waikīkī Public Library and the Honolulu Convention Center? The canoe rides could include a cultural component with Hawaiian history or music and chant. While I am hesitant to suggest commercialization of the Ala Wai, this could offer an alternate method of transportation while giving high school students experience in business, management, and hospitality.

There are two public meetings this month at the Ala Wai Elementary School Cafeteria: on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 1 pm and on Monday, September 24, 2018 at 6:30 pm. I encourage you to attend if you can, or share your ideas here and with Nicola Szibbo at

Do you live, work, or go to school in Waikīkī? What can you envision for the Ala Wai?


A quiet plea to save the International Market Place

January 10, 2012

The International Market Place in Waikiki. As a kid, I saw it as a place where adventures could happen. As an adult, I see it as a way for people to start a micro-business and form a community with other micro-business owners.

But last month, just before the end of the year, I was surprised to read a small article in “Pacific Business News” that reminding us that the iconic International Market Place in Waikiki (along with the Miramar Hotel) will be demolished and redeveloped in 2013. The new project will involve “a new three-level retail, dining and entertainment center” (“Waikiki’s International Market Place, Miramar Hotel to be razed under redevelopment plan” 12/28/11).

The development has been planned for years, but I couldn’t believe that they would actually tear down the International Market Place.

I know that it’s not an “authentic” Hawaiian experience. I know that some people would consider it a “tourist trap” full of small stalls and narrow walkways. I know that it has become out-of-place in upscale, beautified Waikiki.

But I also know that it’s a fun, informal, and interesting place to wander around, without feeling as if you’re under-dressed. I remember strolling along the winding path, just a little lost, in search of those elusive souvenir penny machines. There’s a beautiful, towering banyan tree; I look up and appreciate this exceptional tree, the hub of the Market Place. 

Consolidated’s Waikiki Theatres have been closed since 2002; the Waikiki IMAX Theatre lasted a little longer, but admitted defeat in 2003. Further down Kalakaua Avenue, Niketown in the King Kalakaua Plaza, a four-story shopping and entertainment complex, has been vacant since 2009. Maybe Hawaii visitors and local residents don’t want another expensive, mammoth “entertainment center” in Waikiki.

Is there a way to save the International Market Place? Is it an eye-sore or a Waikiki icon? What do you think?

Creating a pedestrian walkway in Waikiki

October 5, 2010

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about how we can improve Waikiki, starting with traffic flow. Kalakaua Avenue runs along a beautiful stretch of beach that is dominated by large hotels, a lot of cars, and eager swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers. The numerous events and parades make the area even more congested. I don’t have all the details yet, but I have a radical idea to restore one of the most recognized beaches in the world. Maybe you can help with the details.

Here’s my radical idea for Waikiki: turn Kalakaua Avenue into a pedestrian walkway, from Kaiulani Avenue (at the Hyatt Regency) to Kapahulu Avenue (at the Honolulu Zoo). Only the far left lane would be open to buses, trolleys, bicycles, and emergency vehicles.

In fact, I would close more of Kalakaua Avenue, perhaps from Royal Hawaiian Avenue or even Kuamoo Street (at the King Kalakaua Statue in Waikiki Gateway Park), but I can’t figure out how visitors would get to their hotels.

With a Waikiki Pedestrian Walkway, we could have a safer, cleaner, and more attractive beachfront walkway. Visitors could enjoy the sunsets, landscaping, and entertainment at the Kuhio Beach Stage without blocking the sidewalks. Drivers could avoid the frustration of traffic and inattentive pedestrians. Events and parades would be easier to coordinate, because a third of Kalakaua Avenue would already be closed to motorists.

How would visitors and residents get around Waikiki?

* Waikiki Trolley: There is already a Waikiki Trolley that runs between Ala Moana Center and Waikiki, so that visitors and residents don’t have to drive in the area.

* Waikiki Bike-Share: Working with a private company, we could offer a Waikiki Bike-Share service with multiple stations. People could rent a bicycle, use it anywhere within Waikiki, and return the bike to any station to receive their deposit

What do you think about changing Waikiki traffic? Would a Pedestrian Walkway make Waikiki safer and more beautiful? How can we make sure that people and delivery trucks can get to Waikiki hotels? Do you have other concerns?

Historic storyboards around Hawaii

June 8, 2010

Our neighborhoods and parks are coping with litter, graffiti, vandalism, and the homeless. Let’s set aside those challenges for a little while and think about neighborhood pride.

With our busy lives, we’re losing our connection to our neighborhoods and to our history. If people don’t think of their neighborhood as a link to their family, they won’t take care of it. If children don’t think of parks as a link to their lives, they won’t care if they are vandalized.

I’d like to propose that we create historic storyboards across the islands, not just at historic sites, but in our local communities and parks.

What would this accomplish? Historic storyboards would teach us about Hawaiian history and culture. They would encourage community pride and care for the land. They would make sure that we remember and respect the past.

There are already historic storyboards across Waikiki that promote our history and make us feel proud of our cultural heritage. But we need a statewide program for neighborhoods and parks around Hawaii.

The storyboards could follow the Waikiki design of an upright surfboard; or we could design single-panel or double-panel storyboards. With historic photos and illustrations, the panels could explain the region’s name, provide a history of a location and its cultural significance, and identify the people, businesses, and events that influenced the area.

Some civic clubs in Hawaii are already working on this – the Ko‘olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club started the Na‘oneala’a Project, to design and install a storyboard at Na‘oneala’a (Kaneohe Beach Park) recognizing the historic value and significance of the site.

But we need a statewide initiative, partnering with neighborhood boards and civic organizations. It would be great if a Hawaiian community organization could take the lead. What do you think?