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Experience the Infamy. An Essential Guide to Visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

Written by Chris Osburn

This blog post was updated on November 25, 2022.

Thinking about Hawaii for that dream vacation? Alongside all the surf and sun fun, be sure to save time to visit historic Pearl Harbor to honor the more than 2,000 Americans who died during the surprise attack by the Japanese that brought the U.S. into World War II.

Today, the site of the attack — located on the island of Oahu — is officially known as the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument and is situated above the sunken remains of the U.S.S. Arizona, the most heavily damaged ship from the attack. The monument serves to commemorate the date of this tragedy – December 7, 1941 – while offering informative insight about the attack and related events.

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial/Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is among the most popular attractions in Hawaii. The memorial is free to visit but by timed entry only. Every day starting at 7 A.M., 1,300 entry tickets are available on a first come/first served basis. If you arrive early enough to secure tickets, you may have a few hours to wait before your tour. Tickets tend to sell out most days of the week, so be sure to get there early.

An additional 2,700 tickets are available by reservation via with two windows for making reservations: a 60-day window and a 24-hour window. If you’re unable to reserve on the date you wish during the 60-day window, try logging in again the day before your visit for a chance at the limited release of next-day tickets. Once you’re inside the monument, the typical program includes a screening of a 23-minute documentary and boat ride to and from the memorial, lasting roughly an hour and a half in total.

U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

USS Bowfin, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Adjacent to the U.S.S. Arizona is the U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, offering the chance to explore a decommissioned military submarine that sank more than 44 enemy ships in the Pacific during the war. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $7 for children ages 4 to 12. The ceilings are pretty low, so be careful not to bump your head!

Battleship Missouri Memorial

USS Missouri, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The now decommissioned “Mighty Mo” was built near the closing of WWII and it was where the war actually ended on September 2, 1945, when General MacArthur accepted the surrender of the Japanese. Docked on Ford Island a short distance from the U.S.S. Arizona, the U.S.S. Missouri is open for the public to visit. To get to Ford Island, you’ll need to take the Ford Island visitor shuttle bus, which leaves every 15 minutes from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Pacific Aviation Museum

Pacific Aviation Museum, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Also located on Ford Island, the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is home to Hawaii’s largest collection of aircraft, which are on view in hangars that survived the 1941 attack. You’ll see a broad range of military aircraft across a wide range of time periods. The collection includes everything from historic prop planes to a wide range of helicopters to the most modern ultrasonic jets. As with the U.S.S. Missouri, you’ll need to take the Ford Island shuttle to reach this museum, but you’ll find that the trip is well worth the effort.

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U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial

USS Oklahoma Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Also on Ford Island is the U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial. Hit by nine torpedoes, the warship sank within the first 10 minutes of the attack on Pearl Harbor with 429 sailors and marines losing their lives. The memorial features a white marble column of each of person who died on board. It’s free to visit.

If you want to pay your respects and learn about history in Pearl Harbor, then don’t hesitate to look out for flights to Hawaii right away!

Do you have a connection to Pearl Harbor? We would love to hear about your time at this historic site.

About the author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and curator and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world and has called London home since 2001.

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