Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited sites on Oahu. I learned quite a bit when I visited. There are a lot of exhibits, and you could easily spend an entire day there.
What: USS Arizona Memorial / WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Battleship Missouri Memorial
USS Bowfin Submarine and Museum
Pacific Aviation Museum
Where: Pearl Harbor Historic Sites is located at 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI 96818.
Hours: Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day) from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. The USS Arizona Memorial timed programs run between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm.
Price: USS Arizona Memorial – tickets are free at the site, or $1.50 to reserve online (and you will want to reserve online…see below.) The USS Arizona Memorial is a part of the National Parks, and is run by the National Park Service.
The USS Missouri, USS Bowfin and Pacific Aviation Museum are run by the non-profit organizations. There are various package prices, combining the different sites, depending on what you want to see. They range in price from $35-$59 per person.
USS Arizona Memorial Audio Tour – $7.50 (this is just for the headset, and doesn’t include the boat tour out to the Memorial)
USS Bowfin – $12.00
Pacific Aviation Museum – $25
USS Missouri – $25
Other Things You Should Know:
USS Arizona Memorial Tickets: If you want to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, buy tickets as far in advance as you can. They shuttle you out on a boat to the memorial, so they only have a limited number of tickets they sell for specific time slots. They have some first-come first-serve tickets they give out at the beginning of the day you can try for, but they go quickly, and you don’t know what time slot you’ll get. If you want to ensure a spot and want to know what time it will be, plan well ahead, and get your tickets at least a month in advance, more if you can. I had to wait a month before I went, because when I looked up available tickets, the first ones available were a month out.
Bags: No bags of any kind are allowed inside the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. This includes purses, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, etc. Either leave them in your car, or they offer lockers just outside the entrance for $3.00.
Narrated Audio Tour: There is an option to rent a headset for the Jamie Lee Curtis narrated audio tour. If you get one of the package deals, it is included. It covers the exhibits at the Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial. There are separate audio tours given at the Bowfin and Missouri that are a part of the price of admission.
Food: Food is somewhat limited at the Visitor Center. There is a small convenience store that sells some snacks and drinks. Over by the USS Missouri, the Sliders Grill offers burgers and hot dogs. Wai Momi Shave Ice offers pizza slices and churros in addition to shave ice.
Shuttle Bus: The USS Bowfin is in the Visitor Center complex. The USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum are across the harbor, and you’ll need to catch one of the free shuttle buses to them. They run every 15 minutes.
Guided Tours: The USS Missouri offers free docent guided tours. If you want to take one of those, check with one of the docents when you get on the ship to see when the next one will start.
The USS Arizona Memorial starts with the exhibits at the Visitor Center. The audio tour will take you through an indoor area with information about Hawaii and the war leading up to the attack and then through the attack and aftermath. About 10 minutes before your designated time, you’ll line up outside the theater. You’ll watch a video on the attack, and then be taken to the shuttle boat to take you to the Memorial. You’ll stay at the memorial about 15-20 minutes, and then get on the shuttle boat to return to the Visitor Center. The audio tour continues from there at several stops outside by the water.
The audio tour at the Memorial will tell you about the oil leakage from the USS Arizona. They say that the NPS is monitoring the amount of oil that leaks out. They say that they don’t want to go in to try to fix the leak or remove the remaining fuel still in the submerged wreckage out of respect for the servicemen entombed in the wreckage. This annoys me. Oil leaking into the ocean is never a good thing. I don’t know why the spirits of any of the servicemen would be upset at an attempt to fix it.
The USS Bowfin Museum contains probably more information on submarines than you ever wanted to know. The one thing I didn’t like about the audio tour there was the length of each of the stops. They talked and talked and talked and were still talking long after I was done looking at what they were talking about. I ended up skipping past a bunch of it. The audio tour continues out onto the USS Bowfin. The audio tour was better on the submarine than in the museum.
The USS Missouri has it’s own audio tour. You can also choose to take a guided tour. They offer an additional tour that goes down into the engine room and such as well. I liked the USS Missouri. They let you go into more places than the couple of other ships I’ve been on. You can wander down the small hallway between bunks, sit in the captain’s chair, etc.
I didn’t go into the Pacific Aviation Museum. I’m not overly interested in planes, so I opted not to go for that part. I was plenty tired from all the walking I did throughout the Visitor Center and the USS Missouri.