Overview of Magic Island

Magic Island

Hawaiian Islands


Magic Island is an extension to a very popular family beach with a quick access from downtown. It has a very easy entry for both beginning snorkelers and experienced divers.

Directions: The Southern corner of Ala Moana Regional Park, off Ala Moana Blvd. between Honolulu and Waikiki


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Diver Reviews:    Click here to write a Site Review, and share any new information about this site!

05/15/2013 Anonymous (Avg: 3.13 Review) - After reading entries from this site, I thought this would be easy for beginner divers. Entry was easy from left of lagoon in the boat channel. Very murky water until you swim out past the rock wall of the lagoon. Lots of reef fish and some sandy bottoms. Exiting seems a bit scary for a beginner. Do not exit around to Ala Moana Beach. The waves crash on the surfaced reef that is protecting the beach. Waves seemed at least 5ft high. Better options were to go through one of the openings that lead back to lagoon or back around to the beach entry in the boat channel side.

01/01/2010 Big Sky Justin (Avg: 2.96 Review) - I snorkeled this today because the dive shop didn't have my tanks! The vis was about 30' once you get out to the main diving area. I dove to the bottom and the vis went up to 50 or 60 feet. Spotted a barracuda so large we thought it was a shark. 3 or 4 feet and thicker than my leg. There were 2 hunters out there. Each had 2 good sized taco. The coral is very sparse. Plenty of tropical fish to see. If a person took their time and explored the lava channels you would find many biological jewels. The walk to the entry is long. You will get hot. Don't leave anything valuable unattended or it will belong to a homeless person by the time you get back. The water is as calm as you can find on the island this time of year. It's not the best site but its easy and very accessible. Spend enough time down there and you'll see some very interesting stuff. Loads of fish under the lava ledges.

10/08/2009 Seth Bareiss (Avg: 2.67 Review) - Enter via a 1'-wide mini-beach at the near-left (east/Waikiki) side of Magic Island. Magic Island is the circular artificial pool at the end of the peninsula on the east side of Ala Moana park. Here's where the prior descriptions of the dive have been vague: The entry is onto ankle-deep coral/rock. Going southeast from the beach, you soon find a shallow (10'/3m deep) wall. On the deeper side is a silty boat channel. Follow this wall out to sea for about 20 meters, then hop over the wall and swim westward a few feet. If you don't make this all-important move, you'll get bored to death in a lifeless silty boat channel. Once you've swum westward a bit, you'll find yourself in clean 30'/10m deep coral canyons with good viz and a bottom made of broken corals instead of silt. Go seaward as far as the tall channel marker, and you'll surely see at least one green sea turtle. On your way back, retrace your route and pop up to the surface occasionally to make sure you're on the right path. Unsuitable as a night dive, imho, because it's too easy to misplace a buddy and become disoriented in the silt, or by the twisting/turning paths through the shallow canyons.

10/17/2008 Barry W. Stieglitz (Avg: 2.77 Review) - Is it a long gear hump from the parking lot? Yes! Is the site in the middle of downtown Honolulu? Yes! Is it one of the only places to dive when there's a surf advisory on the North Shore? Yes! Good advice from previous contributors includes bringing a wagon to carry gear (bring a guard, or chain it to a nearby tree or bench) and surface swim out to the first green marker buoy. However, this is a good site for Honu: spotted eagle rays, various surgeonfish, and the occasional stonefish. Bring along a mesh bag for trash and be part of the solution. Mahalo to the site owners for a great resource!

10/30/2007 Bill Stohler (Avg: 1.77 Review) - Dive of Last Resort. OK, for me (a spoiled Hawaii diver), I have only been to this site on three occasions. Two were on days when the waves were large everywhere else, and the South shore felt some reprieve. The third was during an underwater cleanup dive. Perhaps that is the best reason to dive here. We found a car battery, a tire, lead fishing weights, fishing line, and all manner of flotsam and jetsam. Oh, yeah. And a man's ~$10,000 wedding ring. This is commonly a training dive site, although it might just be enough to have put me over the edge and turned me off from diving! Dive here if you must, but keep in mind that the adjacent Ala Wai Canal caused at least one person to die of flesh eating bacteria!

03/17/2007 ScubaFella43 (Avg: 1.43 Review) - I dove this site in early Feb and gotta say I did not like it very much. Vis was wicked crappy but I didn't find the walk out and back to be too bad since I parked next to the scuba vans anyway. To be fair, conditions on Oahu lately have been cruddy for the most part anyway.

12/18/2006 Kris Benson (Avg: 1.26 Review) - It was a difficult entry into the boat channel, with about 3' viz. I didn't see anything living… and I know want to know what was living that was too small to see. I'm about to soak my gear in disinfectant!

05/12/2005 Anonymous (Avg: 2.87 Review) - Not much enjoyment from Magic Island, the swim out can be difficult, especially around the point where the waves break. You can feel like you are spending an eternity swimming and not going anywhere. Once out there is not much to see, and vis isn't great. Walk from parking lot is long, but not terrible.

12/23/2004 Ryan Veale (Avg: 3.72 Review) - Good dive for beginners and treasure hunters. Lots of stuff on bottom that has washed up from the sea. Best entry is by the rocks on the left of the path. Once entered, swim towards the middle of the canal. About 25 yards out, it drops immediately to about 30 ft. It's better that way than staying close to the rocks where it's shallow. Once out a ways, there are plenty of turtles and other sea life. Good dive with some small vessel wreckage.

10/31/2004 Brian McLean (Avg: 2.50 Review) - We went in the summer. After a horribly long walk from the car to the entry point, the visibility was horrible. Maybe it was just the day, but this was the worst dive we have done on the island.

07/17/2004 Seth Bareiss (Avg: 3.53 Review) - Decent dive, year-round. Bring a cart and a landlubber to watch the cart & sun himself, while you're underwater, so you don't have to lug your gear from the car across the paved path to the entry. FORGET a swim-entry through the pool-wall's barrier: the pool's always silty (despite the amazing viz in the photo on this page), and the openings in that barrier are almost always too shallow. The entry beach is sand, but then you're walking on fairly sharp coral/lava, so wear tabi-type boots. Follow the boat harbor channel wall outward to the tall, metal channel marker pole, and you often see 4 turtles there. Depths top off at 30~35'. Rare checkered cowries are here. Occasionally silty rainwater creates a "ceiling" of brown on the surface, but underneath, the seawater's still clean. Not a great night-dive, as conditions can often be muddy-viz and divers can feel lost in the coral canyons.

12/15/2003 Linda (Avg: 3.21 Review) - Did the Magic Island dive this weekend...entry into the water is fine - carrying all your dive gear THAT FAR - isn't. Seen two cuttlefish, a purple-edged(???) nudibrach, several fish - but no lobster : ( Very nice dive...the distance from the parking lot to water entry is the worst part. Have fun and aloha...

12/06/2002 Brian Akerson (Avg: 3.49 Review) - To think that somebody would say "Hawaii" and "Bad Vis" in the same sentence amazes me… Too many people take for granted what so many would kill for… I originally hated this site… Nothing to do, nothing to see… Kind of murky in the main entrance area, compared to the rest of the site… If you can put up with the fact that they're dredging the Ala Wai and make your way out to the main water, you're in for a good dive. Not recommended after a good rain though; lots of stuff in the water (Sticks, etc) from the dredging operation. If it's in high tide, you don't even need to go through that area though. Go out through the left-most access in the snorkeling lagoon and head a little left. A nice wall (Small, comparatively speaking) but still nice… Stay clear of the channel and bring a flag (Although we always bring flags, right?) because boats travel fast and all they have to see is the flag. Good dive site if you want something to do when all the stuff on the North Shore is closed out.

06/03/2002 Robert Lower (Avg: 3.17 Review) - Ahhhh, yet another great site masked by a cloak of bad vis., a seemingly lack of fish, and an unlikely location. The key to this dive is to remember, "you're diving in Hawaii-- if you look for it, you will find it!" And such is the case with this site. Located just minutes from Waikiki and directly in front of the world famous Ala Moana Shopping Center, one can enjoy a convenient dive while under time constraints or as your non-diving spouse runs up the credit cards. There is, however, a small (or should I say long) drawback in that the walk from the parking lot to the entrance is like doing a marathon. Best is to done your gear in the lot and walk to the entrance with it all on (minus the fins, of course!). Now here is the secret to making this dive either a hit or a miss. Make sure to surface swim out to the green channel marker, staying to the right to avoid boating traffic, then descend about 20ft. Visibility is likely to be pretty bad here so stay close to the wall so you don't get lost. Next, quickly follow the underwater ledge until you come upon an outcropping from the wall. It is more like a chunk of rubble that broke off of the ledge, but this is your cue to swim right, up over the ledge. It will be about 15-20ft. deep and will reveal a spectacular topography that resembles an underwater labyrinth. There is a sand path to follow with all sorts of caves with green sea turtles, large saddle back goat fish, huge schools of tangs and butterfly fish, dragon morays, and white tipped reef sharks that hide in and around them. If you follow the sand path long enough and stay to the right you will find yourself in a popular boat diving site known as Rainbow Reef. This section is about 30-45ft. deep and has an abundance of cauliflower, antler, and finger corals. There are also many fish to be seen here and the visibility is usually a lot nicer in this area because of its outside location from the boat channel. One last thing: make sure to wear at least a full body skin suit because with the high level of microscopic hydroids in the area you may find yourself re-enacting a scene from the movie "Killer Ants!"

04/20/2002 Michael Quinn (Avg: 3.13 Review) - You can enter 2 ways here: 1) you can swim through the first cut to the left in the lagoon, but make sure its higher tide or 2-3 ft. waves coming in. It is the best way to enter but you really have to "claw" your way through the rocks in the cut. The "cut" is a space in the wave break wall that allows waves to pass through. 2) You can enter at a small sandy patch to the left that faces Ali Wai canal. It is a long boring shallow swim until you reach the corner of the wave break wall. I've always seen turtles here, some smaller cowries, the normal Hawaiian reef fish, and alot of debris (garbage). Make sure you have a dive flag with you for this dive due to the boat traffic to and fro the Ali Wai canal. I did once see a 5 foot white tip reef shark here a few dives back, as soon as he/she saw us it was gone. Visibility is not always the best here, especially if it has rained in the last few days. The worst thing about this dive is the walk from the parking lot to the entry point...all in all it is an ok dive. Heineken is always welcome in the Ali Moana beach park on Magic Island.

07/26/2001 Luke VanValkenburg (Avg: 2.88 Review) - Parking is a very long distance to the entrance. You can head out to sea two different ways. 1. you can head to the left in the only sandy patch near the boat channel like the aerial picture shows. or 2. you can gear up in the pool at the end of the island and kick through the openings in the jetty. A much funner way however. do not attempt to do it during high surf. The surge through those openings are way to strong to kick through when the water is rushing through it…

06/28/2001 Mark Roberts (Avg: 2.73 Review) - This is a LONG walk with your gear from the parking area. There was lots of drift wood to wade through and people fishing off of the jetty. This made us swim almost out to the boat channel to avoid there lines. I do not recommend this site unless you just can't wait to get into the water (like us..hee..hee) and want a site close to your hotel. There are MUCH better places to dive on the island.


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1301


Parking at Magic Island 

Park as close to the Magic Island lagoon as possible. You will need to carry your gear about 150 yards to the water front.


 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1302


Entry at Magic Island 

Here's the entry to the snorkeling lagoon, with a few divers gearing up for their entry, just to the left.

Left Entry

 Map     Sat
GPS: OA1303


Left Entry at Magic Island 

The lagoon is in the background, and the small scuba entry beach is just on the right. Kick out along the jetty until the sites become more interesting, --descend and enjoy!




Aerial at Magic Island 
(click photo for details)

Once away from the lagoon, the sights are quite varied. Carry a dive flag, as an occasional boat will pass by.




Aerial at Magic Island 

Another perspective, showing the harbor and parking.

Last Verification: September, 2000  


Diver Averages for  Magic Island  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.12
Bottom Conditions:  2.53
Reef Conditions:  2.65
Animal Life:  2.94
Plant Life:  2.00
Facilities:  3.53
Solitude 2.65
Roads:  3.65
*Site Average:  2.78

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.41
Beginner Scuba:  3.12
Intermediate Scuba:  2.65
Advanced Scuba:  2.18
Night diving Scuba:  2.12

Number of reviews for this site: 17


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