The Hawaii Admirer
Visiting Pearl Harbor

What Is the Best Way to See Pearl Harbor?

Over 1.8 million travellers visit Pearl Harbor every year, visitors can choose to experience Pearl Harbor on their own or by booking a Pearl Harbor tour.

Why visit Pearl Harbor?

On the 7th of December 1941, the Japanese led a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This significant event killed 2,402 Americans and launched the U.S. into WWII. Over 1.8 million visitors come to this historic location every year to pay their respects.

The USS Arizona Memorial is the most well-known landmark at Pearl Harbor. The memorial sits directly over the USS Arizona itself, a sunken warship where 1,120 sailors and marines were killed and remained entombed.

UPDATE: The USS Arizona Memorial has completed the final phase of construction and will reopen Sunday 1st of September 2019. For more information, click here.

There are several other important sites including the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Oklahoma Memorial.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater is often incorporated on the same day as a visit Pearl Harbor.

Located 45-minutes from Waikiki by vehicle, visitors can experience Pearl Harbor “do-it-yourself” or by booking a half- or full-day tour. When deciding on the best way to see Pearl Harbor the key considerations are your budget, how much time you have available, your preference for a guided or non-guided experience, and the landmarks you specifically want to see.

Do-It-Yourself Pearl Harbor

Independent or budget-conscious travellers can experience Pearl Harbor by arranging their own day of touring. Pearl Harbor is easily reached by driving or catching TheBus (USD2.50 per ride). See the official National Park Service website for car and public transportation directions. Taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft is another option, a one-way journey from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor costs around US$40 depending on traffic.

Exploration should begin at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park are nearby. The Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Oklahoma Memorial are located on Ford Island. Shuttle services depart regularly from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to Ford Island.

This map of Pearl Harbor pinpoints the location of each attraction, estimates how much time to allow at each site and provides ticket and admission information. A Narrated Audio Tour can be hired for self-guided touring.

The most important aspect of a “do-it-yourself” version of Pearl Harbor is gaining a ticket for the USS Arizona Memorial. This admission includes viewing a historic documentary followed by a return boat ride to the memorial site. There are a limited number of tickets per day. HAWAII Magazine offers up four different ways to get tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial.

In summary, the four ways are:
1. Go online and reserve tickets before you arrive
2. Wake up at 7 a.m. to book a next-day ticket
3. Get up early and stand in line at the Visitor Center
4. Book a sightseeing tour

UPDATE: The USS Arizona Memorial has completed the final phase of construction and will reopen Sunday 1st of September 2019. For more information, click here.

Book a Pearl Harbor Tour

If planning is not your forte, why not book a tour so that everything is taken care of. Pearl Harbor tour inclusions vary greatly depending on the tour provider. As a minimum, they usually include transportation (but not always), a driver and/or guide and tickets to USS Arizona Memorial. Always read the tour inclusions carefully.

The obvious advantage to booking a tour is that transport is taken care of (if included), the assurance that tickets to USS Arizona Memorial are secured (if included) and having a dedicated driver and/or guide who can share their expert knowledge about Pearl Harbor.

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Security Need-To-Knows

As a national historic landmark, Pearl Harbor is also an active military base. For security reasons, no bags, purses, backpacks, fanny packs (bum bags), diaper bags, camera bags, luggage or other items that provide concealment are allowed at any of the Pearl Harbor historic sites. Please do not leave valuables in your vehicles. Storage for above items is available at the entrance of the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center for a US$4 per bag fee. Visitors should bring in their wallets, cameras (no large camera bags are allowed), cellular phones and water bottles. Baby carriages and wheelchairs are also permitted. Visitors may bring strollers into the Visitors Center but they are not allowed into the theatre, on the navy boats, or on the memorial itself. Strollers may be stowed at the Visitors Center front desk prior to program tours.


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    Events on 20 February 2020