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An Essential Guide to Visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

US Flags at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Chris Osburn
Written by Chris Osburn

Planning a dream vacation to the Hawaii? Make sure to save time for a visit to historic Pearl Harbor to honor the more than 2,000 Americans who died during the surprise attack by the Japanese on the naval base that was located there.

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 USS 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 leading to America’s involvement in World War II.

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

The USS Arizona Memorial/Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is the most popular attraction in Hawaii, seeing up to 4,000 people daily. The Memorial is free to visit but by ticketed entry only.

Every day from 7 a.m. 1,300 tickets are made available for first come/first serve same day walk-ins. If you arrive early enough to secure tickets, you may have a few hours to wait before your tour. Depending on availability, you should be able to choose the ticketed time you want. Your entire party must be present to get tickets. Tickets tend to “sell out” most days of the week.

An additional 2,700 tickets are available by reservation via recreation.gov 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 logon again the day before your visit for a chance at the limited release of “next day” tickets. Tickets are still free when reserved online, but there is a $1.50 “convenience fee” to pay. The reservation limit is 12 tickets per person per day.

Ticketed programs at the USS Arizona run every 15 minutes, from 7:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., with the exception of 12:15 and 12:30. Reserve ticket availability starts at 11 a.m. 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.

For more tips and details, have a read of the FAQ page of the Valor in the Pacific website.

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

USS Bowfin, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Adjacent to the USS Arizona is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, offering the chance to explore a decommissioned fleet attack submarine that sank more than 44 enemy ships in the Pacific during the war. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 4 to 12. Don’t 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 USS Arizona, the USS Missouri is open for the public to visit. General admission is $27, $13 for children ages 4 to 12.

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. Photo ID is required to take the shuttle.

Pacific Aviation Museum

Pacific Aviation Museum, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Also located on Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum is home to Hawaii’s largest collection of aircraft on view in hangars that survived the 1941 attack. General admission is $25. As with the USS Missouri, you’ll need to take the Ford Island shuttle to reach this museum. Photo ID is required for the shuttle.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

USS Oklahoma Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Also on Ford Island is the USS Oklahoma Memorial. Hit by nine torpedoes, the warship sank within the first ten 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.

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

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About the author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, and curator and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. 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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