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What You Should Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor

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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

Planning a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor? These 7 tips will prepare you for 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 built in 1962 to honor and remember the 1,102 military personnel who died on board. 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 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 7 am Hawaii time. So check the website 24 hours before your visit.

2.  Book a Tour

There’s so much to see at 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.

Pro-tip: Only Passport to Pearl Harbor tickets purchased on the website include tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial.

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:

  • Wallet
  • Camera
  • 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?

Pearl Harbor
1 Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
7 am to 5 pm daily; closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Read other posts on Oahu:

5 Things you didn’t know about Oahu
5 Reasons why you should rent snorkel gear in Oahu
How to stand up paddle board
I hiked Koko Head Crater and Lived

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Monday 1st of April 2019

Yes, as Meg said there ARE bathrooms, just not on the USS Arizona memorial. There is also a food court to grab lunch so of course there are bathrooms. You can also check your bags, don't have to leave them in the car, and anything you need to bring in that you can't just carry in your hands you can purchase an (inexpensive) bag from the bag check area to put all of your necessities in. I do remember putting sunscreen on my daughter inside the gates, so we were either allowed to being it in, or we purchased some from the gift shop, but that too is possible to have inside the gates. Definitely put it in your list, don't go to Oahu without planning a day at Pearl Harbor.


Tuesday 3rd of April 2018

I think a few people misunderstood the whole restroom thing. There ARE restrooms by the gift shop and museum area. You have to take a boat over to the actual site of the Arizona memorial, where there are no restrooms. There is no cell phone use while actually on the Arizona memorial (what you take the boat to see) ... it's about respecting al the lives lost there. I think the article was also a bit misleading in another respect... you don't need tickets to get into the national park, you need a timed ticket for the boat ride over the Arizona memorial. If you don't want to go to the Arizona then just don't get a ticket. I would also not say that the national park is NOT part of the military base. Yes, it's very close to the military base(s) but it's not part of the base. Believe me, if it was part of a military base you would need to show ID and have a special pass ... not just walk through metal detectors. I would also suggest bringing the national parks passport book if you have one. There are many stamps available at this national park, the stamps are located just to the left of the entrance and is right by the gift shop. I go here all the time and see and/or learn something new every single time I go over there.

Ami Bhat

Wednesday 14th of December 2016

Those are some really useful tips... No bags and 3 dollars for a locker. And no rest rooms... Definitely need to keep these in mind. Thanks


Tuesday 13th of December 2016

I particularly liked your reminder to be an dress respectfully.

After all, the harbour is a watery grave for many American and some Japanese servicemen...

Sandy N Vyjay

Monday 12th of December 2016

Pearl Harbor is a watershed moment in American and World history and hence a very important place to visit. Hope to get there someday. The tips are great to ensure a smooth experience at the historic site. The tip about pre-booking is definitely very valuable as who would wish to spend hours waiting in a queue for a ticket.

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