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Forming the northern boundary of Waikiki, the Ala Wai Canal is a manmade waterway that was built in the 1920s to drain the swamps and rice paddies in the coastal wetlands that were fed by the streams coming from Makiki, Palolo and Manoa valleys.

Dredging of the Ala Wai Canal took place from 1921 to 1928. When it was done several square miles of new real estate had been created, clearing the way for expansive construction of high-rise resort hotels. Today the world famous resort area of Waikiki is the most valuable real estate in all of the Hawaiian Islands.

The Ala Wai Canal runs along the length of Waikiki parallel to Ala Wai Blvd. for 25 blocks and then empties into the ocean. Bridges go over the Ala Wai at Ala Moana Blvd., Kalakaua Ave. and McCully St.

Driving alongside the Ala Wai you will often see joggers and walkers on the path alongside the canal, and paddlers in outrigger canoes often ply the historic waterway. Waikiki means “Spouting water” referring to how wet the area was before the Ala Wai Canal was built.