Pearl Harbor on Oahu
February 25, 2021
| by
Jana Free

Oahu Things to do: How to Visit Pearl Harbor

In this Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Oahu Things to do: How to Visit Pearl Harbor,’ we'll show you how to visit one the most historic sites in America and one of the most popular attractions in all of Hawaii.

These are unusual times we find ourselves living in, with restrictions being put in place and lifted with little notice, so please be sure to confirm operating hours before visiting any of the attractions or venues mentioned in this article.

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. If you’re looking for Things to do on Oahu during your visit to Hawaii, visit Pearl Harbor to learn about some of our country’s most important history.

In this Oahu Travel Blog article, Things to do on Oahu: Guide to Visiting Pearl Harbor, we introduce you one of the top attractions in Hawaii and the United States, and to an important site for those who want to learn about and remember America’s history.

Pearl Harbor
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)
Distance from Ambassador Waikiki Hotel: 11.3 miles

Why you should visit Pearl Harbor:    

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 muse-um gallery and well-preserved burial place.

Visit Pearl Harbor to learn about the attack on the Pacific Fleet, and to discover how Japan awakened “The Sleeping Giant” on this infamous day in U.S. history. On that solemn morning, Americans’ hearts fell and laid in shock as our navy faced an enemy on its own land, a combined Japanese effort that included submarines, bombers and fighter planes.

Fortunately, the United States’ amazingly valuable aircraft carriers were at sea that day, and they were able to escape the firestorm 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:

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 get the most out of this Oahu attraction on your own.

Guided Tours of Pearl Harbor: 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: 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.

Pearl Harbor Memorial on Oahu
Pearl Harbor Memorial is one of the most visited attractions in all of Oahu.

Your visit to Pearl Harbor will likely be a day you will always remember. With awe-inspiring galleries and scenery that brings 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 Things to do on Oahu.

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

Tips for Visiting Pearl Harbor:

  • 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 (not touching) the sunken USS Arizona. We recommend you get the entire Pearl Harbor experience and learn 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 enjoyable boat ride.

This latest article: Things to do on Oahu: Guide to Visiting Pearl Harbor features just some of the amazing reasons to make the memorable trip to Pearl Harbor, a must-visit Oahu attraction.

If you have any questions about visiting Pearl Harbor after reading this article, please feel free to ask our Concierge for more information. 

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.

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