Visiting Pearl Harbor? Here are 10 tips on visiting Pearl Harbor
1) Plan your trip to Pearl Harbor in advance
Pearl Harbor is comprised of four memorials and historic parks. The most popular is the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, also known as the memorial site for the USS Arizona. The Battleship Missouri Memorial is home to the giant decommissioned USS Missouri, the same ship where WWII ended. People frequently call it the Mighty Mo. Many retired airplanes reside at the Pacific Aviation Museum, located on Ford Island at Pearl Harbor. There is even a decommissioned submarine called the USS Bowfin Museum and Park.
Do some research and pick the places that you want to visit. How long you spend on your vacation to Pearl Harbor is up to you. Most people spend at least two hours at Pearl Harbor, but if you are a history buff, you can easily spend all day touring, exploring and experiencing all that the Memorials and Parks have to offer.
2) Get USS Arizona Tickets online
The USS Arizona Memorial is free and open to the public. They issue 1,300 free boat tickets a day. Keep in mind, this does not mean that you can arrive day-of and get a ticket. In order to guarantee a ticket, we recommend that you reserve your ticket online at recreation.gov or by phone: 1-877-444-6777. This tip is the most important tip we can give you for visiting Pearl Harbor on your own.
If you didn’t buy tickets ahead of time, you will need to get on the first trolley to beat the crowds. You can find more information about Waikiki Trolley Purple Line here.
One hour before your ticket time, check-in at the admissions gate. If you don’t have your tickets, you may be reassigned to standby guests.
3) Don’t bring a bag with you
NO purses, handbags, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, or other items that offer concealment are allowed in the whole of the Pearl Harbor Monument or park.
Wallets, cameras, cellular phones, and bottled water are acceptable to bring. Medicine can be brought into the park in a clear bag. Bag storage is available outside the main gate for a fee of $5.00 per item.
4) Are you claustrophobic?
If you are claustrophobic, you will definitely want to skip the Bowfin Submarine. The Bowfin, like any military submarines, is a windowless vessel that was launched in 1942 without any modern comforts. The ceilings are low and the rooms are small.
The USS Missouri is less daunting for someone who is claustrophobic. You can experience the deck of the boat without having to squeeze in tight spaces. There are lots of areas to explore with in the ship that have windows or standard height ceilings and reasonable sized rooms. There are some areas in the Mighty Mo that you will have to climb though to view specific places.
5) What is free at Pearl Harbor?
The World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, also known as the memorial site for the USS Arizona, is free and open to the public.
6) Dress to be active
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that you can be active in. There is a lot of walking when you visit Pearl Harbor, even if you just go to see the Arizona Memorial. If you choose to visit the Bowfin Submarine or the Mighty Mo, you will be climbing ladders and crawling through portholes. Keep this in mind when you are getting dressed for the day.
7) Bring a hat
The sun in Hawaii is intense. Make sure you bring a hat to protect your face. We also suggest bringing sunscreen, but since bags are not permitted anywhere at Pearl Harbor (unless you purchase storage for $5, see above) you might want to pre-apply and leave the bottle at home.
8) Strollers are allowed
If you are bringing small children, you can bring a small clear, or opaque shopping bag as well as a stroller. Bottles and baby food are also permissible to bring in.
9) Wheelchairs are allowed but are not supplied
The Pacific National Monument park is ADA compliant and handicap accessible.
10) Remember that Pearl Harbor is a memorial
Lastly, but certainly most importantly, please remember that Pearl Harbor is a memorial. On December 7, 1941 just before 8 am, hundreds of Japanese fighter planes attacked Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 American died in that attack and many others were injured. This was the beginning of World War II for the United States of America. The USS Arizona memorial site preserves and interprets the stories of the Pacific War.