Oahu Things to Do: Visiting Pearl Harbor – Updated

Visiting Pearl Harbor is one of the most popular Oahu Attractions and in this Oahu Travel Guide article, ‘Oahu Things to do: Visiting Pearl Harbor,’ we’ll provide you with tips and recommendations on how to make the most of your visit to this historic landmark.

Oahu is home to one of the most tragic, and historically impactful events in modern history, Pearl Harbor. This poignant landmark located in Honolulu on the island of Oahu is one of the most visited attractions in the entire state of Hawaii. Each year millions of visitors take in the moving message and importance this memorial has come to represent.

On December 7, 1941, “…a date which will live in infamy” as stated by Franklin Roosevelt in his December 8th address to a joint session of Congress, the Empire of Japan attacked the air and naval forces of the United States with a deliberate and sudden blow. The attack on Pearl Harbor sunk one of America’s ships, the USS Arizona, and it propelled the U.S. into World War II.

In our latest Oahu Travel Guide article, ‘Oahu Things to Do: Visit Pearl Harbor‘, we’ll give you tips, recommendations, and facts about how to make the most of your visit to one of the top attractions in Hawaii and one of the most important times in America’s history.

Attraction: Pearl Harbor Memorial
Location: 1 Arizona Memorial Drive, Honolulu, HI 96818
Telephone: 808.422.3399
Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)

Why you should visit Pearl Harbor Memorial: Pearl Harbor is the site of one of the most devastating attacks on the United States and it is a place where visitors come to honor fallen members of our armed forces. In the 1941 attack on our country, the USS Arizona sank with members of our navy on board, and the wreckage from that ship is permanently laid to rest as a monument to the men killed during the ambush.

This historic and somber battle site is where U.S. involvement in WWII began, and it is where it ended. During your visit to Pearl Harbor, you can also visit the Battleship Missouri, the site where Japan officially surrendered and ended the war.

Pearl Harbor is a must-visit attraction that offers peaceful views of Hawaii’s largest natural harbor, and it provides a place for quiet reflection. This historic site and Memorial allow guests to experience the events that unfolded on that fateful day, with a moving emotional display in a carefully curated museum gallery and well-preserved burial place.

During the attack, the United States’ aircraft carriers were at sea and escaped the attack and were able to mount a massive counterattack. The story of Pearl Harbor, and America’s fight and resolve, is on display at the Pearl Harbor Monument and Museum – one of the top Things to do on Oahu.

Guide to Visiting Pearl Harbor Memorial: Many visitors to Pearl Harbor have the best experience when they go on a guided tour of the Monument and Museum. While a guided tour of Pearl Harbor is worthwhile, it is certainly possible to get the most out of this Oahu attraction on your own.

Guided Tours of Pearl Harbor Memorial: Many companies offer guided tours of Pearl Harbor, which may also include visits to other nearby top Oahu attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Dole Plantation. Guided tours of Pearl Harbor often begin with a quiet walk around the harbor, where you will be able to look down into the water at the final resting place of the USS Arizona.

Self-Guided Tours of Pearl Harbor Memorial: If you want to experience Pearl Harbor at your own pace, consider a self-guided tour. All visitors to Pearl Harbor can stop by the Visitor Center to plan their day at this moving Memorial. Through the Pearl Harbor Museum exhibits, you will be able to learn about the 1,177 seamen who were killed during the Japanese attack, and the many marines, soldiers, and civilians who also lost their lives.

Anyone who lived through the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor can probably tell you exactly where they were when they heard the sad news that morning. In just a few hours, the United States’ mighty Pacific Fleet had been savagely hit and the nation’s spirit was brutally shattered.

Your visit to Pearl Harbor will likely be a day you will always remember. With awe-inspiring galleries and scenery that bring the history of the period alive, the Pearl Harbor Memorial and Museum is an in-depth experience that should definitely be on your list of top Oahu things to do.

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is comprised of the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. It features 3 mooring quays, 6 officer bungalows, and the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Frequently Asked Questions for Visiting Pearl Harbor Memorial:
Q: Do you need a reservation to visit Pearl Harbor Memorial?
A: Reservations and tickets to enter the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and to visit the museums are not required. However, it is recommended that you arrive as early as possible to avoid mid-day crowds.

Q: Do we need to buy Pearl Harbor tickets in advance or on arrival?
A: Absolutely yes! It is best to reserve your tickets to Pearl Harbor as early as possible and before you arrive in Hawaii. Pearl Harbor is one of the busiest attractions in all of Hawaii and tickets are limited. To buy each of the tickets and passes for Pearl Harbor – go here. https://pearlharbor.org/faqs/can-i-buy-tickets-to-pearl-harbor/

Q: What are the limitations of backpacks and purses?
A: It is important to plan for not bringing bags into Pearl Harbor Memorial. Purses, Backpacks, Camera Bags, Diaper Bags, or any other carrying case that can be used to conceal items is not allowed. The park provides lockers for storage of your bags and purses for $3.00.

Q: What does it cost to visit Pearl Harbor?
A: There is no cost to park or to visit the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Tickets for all four attractions are available at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites ticketing counters, located at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The USS Arizona Memorial does require a ticket, but tickets are free which must be reserved.

Q: How long does it take to visit all the areas of Pearl Harbor?
A: It is recommended that you allow for up to 8 hours to see all the areas of Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, galleries, watch the educational movies, etc.

Quick Tips for Visiting Pearl Harbor Memorial:

  • Getting to Pearl Harbor: If you are driving yourself, you should allow for up to 45 minutes to arrive from Waikiki. You can take TheBus, Oahu’s fantastic public transportation, and take Route #20 and #42 to arrive at Pearl Harbor Memorial. You can also take a Taxi or Uber, and while their rates will vary based on traffic, you can estimate the average cost of a ride from Waikiki will be about $40 – $60.
  • No Bags! There is a no-bag policy in effect for visiting Pearl Harbor. Cameras, wallets, water bottles, and other small items may be brought on-site, subject to approval.
  • You will find public restrooms throughout the Visitor Center, but there are no restrooms at the USS Arizona Memorial.
  • Please do not bring food or drink into the Visitor Center theater or the Memorial. You may enjoy snacks throughout the rest of the Visitor Center and there is a snack shop on site.
  • The National Park Service oversees the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, and it does not charge a fee for visiting the attraction (the Battleship Missouri Memorial is a separate site and there is a fee to visit). You will need a free time-stamped ticket to enter the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, however.
  • Honolulu architect Alfred Preis designed the beautiful Memorial that sits atop the sunken USS Arizona. We recommend getting the entire Pearl Harbor experience and learning the most about the site, including small details that others miss, by participating in the USS Arizona Memorial Program, a 75-minute-long tour that includes an amazing film and an enjoyable boat ride.