Your Complete Guide To Visiting Pearl Harbor

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Your Complete Guide To Visiting Pearl Harbor

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I see this question all the time, “What are the must-do activities in Hawaii?” Visiting Pearl Harbor is always recommended for anyone coming to Oahu.

There are several sections and areas to visit so it can be a bit confusing as to which is which. This guide to visiting Pearl Harbor will walk you through everything you need to know so you don’t miss a thing and make the best choices during your visit.

I have personally visited the museums and the memorial more than once and cannot recommend this special place enough. If you are looking to bundle your activities to keep costs down consider the Go City pass which has multiple options for Pearl Habor. I also have a guide for the best things to do on Oahu while you are here.

Glassy water showing my guide to visiting Pearl Harbor

Do I Have To Make A Reservation For Pearl Harbor

The short answer is no. You do not need to make a reservation to visit Pearl Harbor.

If you plan on taking the water shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial reservations are recommended but not required. You can get in the standby line on the day of your visit and board the shuttle. This is based on availability so if you are coming during peak tourist periods like spring break or the summer it may be a bit difficult.

Worried about tickets running out? See the detailed section below on How To Make A Reservation For Pearl Harbor.

There is some confusion on this as the website states “…Same-day, free tickets are no longer available at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. (See the “Booking Windows” tab for more information.) ” This is not true as of March 31, 2023, you can indeed get in the standby line and board the boat shuttle, based on space available, without a reservation. I had someone physically at the park verify this and also confirm with a park ranger. I have no idea when the website will be updated.

Another thing that gets confusing is when you start combining terms and names like Pearl Harbor, Pear Harbor National Memorial, USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, and more.

If you just want someone to handle all the logistics involved you may want to consider a guided tour. The services offer vary from transportation to and from and visiting other historical sites along the way so read the details.

This next section will break down each section of the park so you know what is required, if anything, for each section.

Planning Your Trip To Pearl Harbor

First off, let’s talk about all the names and locations, and what they represent in regard to your visit while keeping in mind the best time to visit Hawai’i as well.

Pearl Harbor – This is the location that encompasses the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Lochs, and nearby areas. We all say we want to visit Pearl Harbor but to be more specific you want to visit the Pearl Habor National Memorial and nearby independent musuems.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial – This encompasses the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial. It also includes the USS Utah and USS Oklahoma which are located on Ford Island and accessible via a shuttle that requires a reservation, read the detailed write-up on this bus tour.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial Bus Tour

To visit the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah Memorials on Ford Island, individuals without an Active-Duty Military ID must reserve seats for the Ford Island Bus Tour. These memorials are situated on an active duty military base, hence access is limited. The tour is fully guided and supervised by National Park Service Rangers, working closely with the US Navy.

To participate in this program, it is essential to make a reservation, as it is subject to time and capacity restrictions. Visitors can plan their visit by referring to the Ford Island Bus Tour page. The tour begins and concludes at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

Why You Should Visit Pearl Harbor

Your Complete Guide To Visiting Pearl Harbor

Without a doubt, the most important reasons to visit Pearl Habor are to learn about the significant events that happened here and to pay respect to the men and women who lost their lives.

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a significant event that had a profound impact on the United States and the course of World War II. Visiting the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites will allow you to learn about this important event and its significance in American history.

I encourage everyone, no matter what age, to make at least one visit to this national memorial.

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a tribute to the more than 2,400 Americans who lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Visiting the memorial is a way to pay your respects to these men and women and honor their sacrifices.

The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites include the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial, the USS Missouri, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. These sites offer the opportunity to see historic ships and planes up close and learn about their role in World War II.

How Much Does It Cost To Visit Pearl Harbor

The cost of visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii can vary depending on which specific attractions you want to visit and which tour package or ticket options you choose. Here are some general guidelines for the most popular attractions:

USS Arizona Memorial: Admission to the USS Arizona Memorial is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained on a first-come, first-served basis at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center or reserved in advance for a fee of $1.00 per ticket.

Battleship Missouri Memorial: General admission to the Battleship Missouri Memorial is $34.99 for adults (age 12 and up), and $17.49 for children (ages 4-12).

Pacific Aviation Museum: Admission to the Pacific Aviation Museum is $25.99 for adults, and $14.99 for children (ages 4-12).

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center: There is no admission fee for the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, but parking costs $7 per vehicle.

It’s worth noting that there are a variety of different tour packages and ticket options available that may include transportation, guided tours, and access to multiple attractions. These packages can range in price from around $50 to over $100 per person. It’s a good idea to research different options and compare prices to find the best deal for your needs.

How To Make A Reservation For Pearl Harbor

There are different ways to make a reservation for Pearl Harbor, depending on which specific attraction or tour package you want to book.

If you just want someone to handle all the logistics involved you may want to consider a guided tour. The services offer vary from transportation to and from and visiting other historical sites along the way so read the details.

USS Arizona Memorial: To obtain free tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial, you can go to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on the day of your visit and get in the standby line, in person on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want to reserve tickets in advance, you can do so through the recreation.gov website. There is a fee of $1.00 per ticket for this service.

The booking window for reservations is as follows-

The primary booking window allows customers to purchase tickets 8 weeks (56 days) in advance at 3 pm HST, on a daily rolling basis. For instance, if it’s Monday, May 2, tickets will be available for purchase on Monday, June 27.

The secondary booking window offers extra tickets that can be purchased one day in advance, on a daily rolling basis at 3 pm HST. For example, on May 3, customers can buy additional tickets for May 4 and on May 4, they can purchase extra tickets for May 5.

Battleship Missouri Memorial: You can book tickets for the Battleship Missouri Memorial online through the official website. You can also purchase tickets at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center or at the Battleship Missouri Memorial ticket booth.

Pacific Aviation Museum: You can purchase tickets for the Pacific Aviation Museum online through the official website or at the museum ticket desk.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center: There is no need to make a reservation for the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center itself. However, if you want to book a guided tour or a tour package that includes transportation and multiple attractions, you can do so through a variety of tour operators and travel companies.

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It’s important to book your tickets or tour packages in advance, especially during peak travel season, as availability can be limited. It’s also a good idea to check the specific attraction’s website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on hours of operation, ticket prices, and tour options.

How Long Does It Take To Visit Pearl Harbor

The amount of time it takes to visit Pearl Harbor can vary depending on which specific attractions you want to see, how much time you want to spend at each one, and whether you are taking a guided tour or exploring on your own. Here are some general estimates for the most popular attractions:

USS Arizona Memorial: The program at the USS Arizona Memorial lasts about 75 minutes, including a 23-minute documentary film and a shuttle boat ride to the memorial itself. However, you should plan to arrive at least an hour before your scheduled tour time to allow for parking, ticketing, and security screening.

Battleship Missouri Memorial: A self-guided tour of the Battleship Missouri Memorial can take 1-2 hours, depending on how much of the ship you want to explore. If you are taking a guided tour, it may take longer.

Pacific Aviation Museum: A visit to the Pacific Aviation Museum can take 1-2 hours, depending on your level of interest in aviation history and exhibits.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center: You could spend 1-2 hours at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which includes exhibits and displays about the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as a bookstore, gift shop, and snack bar.

If you want to see all of the above attractions, plan on spending a half-day or more at Pearl Harbor. Keep in mind that lines for tickets and security screenings can be long, especially during peak travel season, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and plan ahead.

When Does Pearl Harbor Open

The opening hours for Pearl Harbor can vary depending on the specific attraction or tour package you want to visit.

USS Arizona Memorial: The USS Arizona Memorial is open daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Battleship Missouri Memorial: The Battleship Missouri Memorial is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Pacific Aviation Museum: The Pacific Aviation Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Pearl Harbor Visitor Center: The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Keep in mind that some attractions may have last admission times earlier than the closing time, so it’s a good idea to check the specific attraction’s website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on opening hours, ticket prices, and tour options. Additionally, during peak travel season or on holidays, it’s recommended to arrive early to avoid crowds and long lines.

Pearl Harbor Map

Address: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USA

Website: https://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

Today, Pearl Harbor is still an active naval base and a popular destination for visitors to Hawaii who want to learn about the events of that day and pay their respects to those who lost their lives. The harbor is home to several historical sites and attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a National Park Service site that honors the memory of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events of World War II. It includes several historical sites and attractions, including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA

Website: https://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

The memorial is located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, on the site of the former naval base at Pearl Harbor. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is the main entrance to the memorial and includes exhibits and displays about the attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as a bookstore, gift shop, and snack bar. From the visitor center, visitors can take a shuttle boat to the USS Arizona Memorial or a short walk to the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is open daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained in advance or on the day of your visit. Admission to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Aviation Museum, and other attractions may require separate tickets or fees.

For more information about visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, including hours of operation, ticketing, and tour options, visit the official website linked above.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial is a somber tribute to the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives when the USS Arizona was sunk during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. The memorial is built over the remains of the ship and is located in Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA

Website: https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/uss-arizona-memorial.htm

The USS Arizona Memorial is accessed by a short shuttle boat ride from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Visitors can view the sunken remains of the USS Arizona from the memorial and pay their respects to those who lost their lives. The memorial includes a wall listing the names of those who perished on the ship, as well as a museum with exhibits and displays about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the events of World War II.

Visitors can obtain free tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on the day of their visit or in advance through the National Park Service’s online reservation system. It is recommended to reserve tickets in advance, as they are limited and can sell out quickly.

The USS Arizona Memorial is open every day from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. There are no bags or purses allowed on the memorial, and there is limited storage available for a fee at the visitor center.

USS Bowfin

The USS Bowfin is a submarine museum located at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The submarine was commissioned in 1943 and served in the Pacific during World War II, earning nine battle stars for its service.

Address: 11 Arizona Memorial Dr, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA

Website: https://www.bowfin.org/

Today, the USS Bowfin is a museum that allows visitors to experience what life was like on a World War II submarine. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the sub and see the living quarters, engine room, and torpedo room, as well as exhibits about the sub’s history and importance.

In addition to the submarine, the museum includes exhibits about other aspects of World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, the role of submarines in the war, and the experiences of American prisoners of war. There’s also a gift shop and snack bar on the site.

The USS Bowfin is open daily from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission fees apply, and guided tours are available for an additional fee.

For more information about visiting the USS Bowfin, including hours of operation, ticketing, and tour options, visit the official website linked above.

USS Missouri

The USS Missouri is a battleship that played a key role in World War II, including the signing of the surrender documents that ended the war. The ship is now a museum located at Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Address: 63 Cowpens St, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA

Website: https://ussmissouri.org/

Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the ship and see exhibits about its history and importance. The tour includes the ship’s deck, the captain’s cabin, the crew’s quarters, and the ship’s armament. Visitors can also see the location on the deck where the Japanese signed the surrender documents that ended the war.

In addition to the self-guided tour, guided tours and special programs are available for an additional fee.

The USS Missouri is open daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission fees apply, and guided tours are available for an additional fee.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of aviation in Hawaii and the Pacific. The museum is located on historic Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Address: 319 Lexington Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96818, USA

Website: https://www.pearlharboraviationmuseum.org/

The museum features exhibits and displays about the history of aviation in Hawaii and the Pacific, including aircraft from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Visitors can also see a replica of the control tower from the attack on Pearl Harbor and exhibits the role of aviation in the attack.

In addition to the exhibits, the museum offers guided tours and flight simulations for an additional fee. There is also a gift shop and café on site.

The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Admission fees apply, and guided tours and flight simulations are available for an additional fee.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

The USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island is a monument dedicated to the memory of the 429 sailors and Marines who lost their lives when the USS Oklahoma was attacked and capsized during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The memorial features a plaque with the names of the sailors and Marines who were killed, as well as a flagpole and a marker.

Address: Pacific Fleet Headquarters Building, 250 Makalapa Dr, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860, USA

Website: https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/visit-the-uss-oklahoma-memorial.htm

The USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island is located near the entrance to the Pacific Fleet Headquarters Building and is accessible to the public. Visitors can pay their respects to the sailors and Marines who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor and learn more about the history of the USS Oklahoma.

To visit the USS Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island, visitors must have a valid military ID or be accompanied by someone who has a valid military ID. Civilian visitors can obtain a pass to enter the base at the Ford Island Visitor Center located outside the main gate.

Pearl Harbor Tours

There are a few different tour options available for visiting Pearl Harbor:

Self-guided tours: Visitors can explore the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites on their own using an audio tour or by following the self-guided tour maps available at the Visitor Center.

Guided tours: Several companies offer guided tours of Pearl Harbor, which may include transportation from Waikiki and a tour guide who will provide information about the history of the site.

Combo tours: There are also combo tours available that include visits to other popular Oahu attractions in addition to Pearl Harbor, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center or the North Shore.

It is recommended that you book your tour in advance, as tours can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

How To Get To Pearl Harbor

By Car: Renting a car is a convenient option if you prefer to drive. From Waikiki, take the H-1 freeway westbound and follow signs for Pearl Harbor. The drive takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

By Public Transportation: TheBus is Oahu’s public transportation system and offers several routes from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor. Take Bus 20 or Bus 42 from Waikiki to the Aloha Stadium, then transfer to Bus 42 or Bus 20A to Pearl Harbor. The trip can take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

By Tour Bus: Many tour operators offer transportation from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor as part of a guided tour. These tours typically include admission to the USS Arizona Memorial and other attractions at Pearl Harbor. Take a look at some of the most popular and well reviewed tours here.

By Taxi or Ride-Sharing Service: Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are available in Waikiki and can take you directly to Pearl Harbor. The ride takes about 30 minutes, depending on traffic.

Best Places To Eat At Pearl Harbor

There are a few places to eat at Pearl Harbor:

Laniakea Café at the Pacific Aviation Museum

Restaurant 604 (Just outside Pearl Harbor Visitors Center)

The USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center has a snack bar that serves sandwiches, chips, drinks, and other light fare.

The Pacific Aviation Museum has a cafe that serves sandwiches, salads, and other light meals.

The USS Missouri has a snack bar that serves sandwiches, chips, drinks, and other light fare.

There are also a number of restaurants and cafes located in the nearby town of Aiea, including local favorites like Zippy’s and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

Final Thoughts On This Guide To Visiting Pearl Harbor

Put this at the top of your list when making a visit to Oahu or Hawai’i in general. The history and unique experience will stay will you for a lifetime.

If you have been here leave your tips for a great visit below, other travelers will appreciate it.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Might want to actually do some timely research before you post. “Same-day, free tickets are no longer available at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.”

    • Hi Jimmy, Thanks for the comment and taking the time to make sure my content is correct, I appreciate that very much.

      There is some confusion on this as the website states “…Same-day, free tickets are no longer available at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. (See the “Booking Windows” tab for more information.) ” This is not true as of March 31, 2023, you can indeed get in the standby line and board the boat shuttle, based on space available, without a reservation. I had someone physically at the park verify this and also confirm with a park ranger. I have no idea when the website will be updated.

      I have updated the article to address this confusion and incorrect information on the website directly as I am sure others will be confused as well.

  2. Glad same day tix are available again. Website must still be outdated from all the wuhan virus nonsense

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