Over 8.3 million people visit Hawaii each year. After all, Hawaii has so much to offer: great weather, beautiful beaches, surfing, and of course, Pearl Harbor. With 1.8 million visitors a year, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited sites in Honolulu. Visiting Pearl Harbor is a must when in Oahu. Here’s what you should know before visiting Pearl Harbor.
What You Should Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “a date which will live in infamy,” caused the US to join World War II.
The two-hour attack damaged all eight Navy battleships, sinking four, including the USS Arizona which remains underwater today.
The USS Arizona Memorial was build in 1962 to honor and remember the 1,102 military personnel who died onboard. In 1989, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. And is considered the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
With so much to see here’s what you should know before you visit Pearl Harbor.
1. Book Your Ticket in Advance
You can visit the USS Arizona Memorial for free. But a ticket is required.
Every day 1,300 tickets are given out on a first-come, first served basis at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center ticket counter.
USS Arizona Memorial tickets are included in Pearl Harbor tours like a Day at Pearl Harbor.
Tickets have a pre-assigned visiting time from 7:45 am to 3 pm. If it’s crowded or you get there late, you might have to wait 2 or more hours. So get there early!
Pro-tip: Pre-book a free ticket on the Recreation.gov website.
There’s a $1.50 fee for each ticket booked in advance. Totally worth it to avoid waiting in line and guarantee that you get a ticket.
You can pre-book your ticket up to 2 months in advance. Up to 12 tickets per day can be reserved online.
Pro-tip: If you couldn’t pre-book your ticket, there are a limited number of next day tickets released at 7am Hawaii time. So check the Recreation.gov website 24 hours before your visit.
2. Book a Tour
There’s so much to see at Pearl Harbor:
- USS Arizona Memorial
- USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor
Plan to spend an entire day at Pearl Harbor. Everything is family-friendly and there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Even if you don’t think you’ll be interested in seeing the other attractions, you might change your mind once you’re there. Jeff did and wanted to see everything.
Because we already had our USS Arizona Memorial tickets (pre-booked online), we bought Passport to Pearl Harbor tickets ($65 for adults, $35 for children ages 4 to 12) at the ticket counter.
If you buy your Passport to Pearl Harbor tickets at the visitor center, you still need tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial.
Pro-tip: If you want extra time, you can use your Passport to Pearl Harbor ticket for a second visit within 7 days by paying a fee of $10 (adults) and $5 (children) at the ticket counter.
3. No Bags or Purses Allowed
Pearl Harbor is home to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet and is a military base. Security is strict and you will go through a metal detector.
You can’t bring any type of backpack, bag, or purse. Not even a diaper bag.
Bag storage is available for $3 per bag maximum of 50 pounds, regardless of size. So you could come straight from the airport or go to the airport after your visit.
You can bring a:
- Cell phone
- Clear water bottle
Pro-tip: Wear clothes that have pockets. Or you have to hold everything in your hands.
4. Wear Comfortable Shoes
Wear comfortable shoes especially if you decide to visit all the attractions. There’s a lot of walking and standing around.
5. Wear Sunscreen
Hawaii is hot. The sun beats down something fierce. And you’ll outside for parts of the tour.
Put sunscreen on before you get to Pearl Harbor. Or in the parking lot before you get out of your rental car. Because you can’t bring sunscreen into Pearl Harbor.
6. Dress Appropriately
The USS Arizona Memorial is an underwater grave. So bathing suits are not allowed. Board shorts for guys will probably fly as long as you’re wearing a shirt. But no bikini’s for the girls.
7. No Restrooms or Strollers
There are no restrooms at the USS Arizona Memorial. So visit the bathroom at the visitor center before you get on the shuttle boat.
Strollers are not allowed on the shuttle boat. You have to park them at the theater.
Pro-tip: Remove all valuables from your stroller.
These seven tips will prepare you for what you should know before visiting Pearl Harbor.
- Book your ticket in advance
- Some Pearl Harbour tours, like the Day at Pearl Harbor, include USS Arizona Memorial tickets
- Leave bags purses, backpacks and diaper bags at your hotel
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Put on sunscreen
- Cover up if you’re in a bathing suit
- There are no bathrooms on the USS Arizona Memorial
Do I leave anything out? What tips or suggestions would you recommend on what you should know before visiting Pearl Harbor?
1 Arizona Memorial Place
Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
7 am to 5 pm daily; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
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