Plan on it. It’s Hawaii’s most visited attraction for a reason. The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on Oahu lures 1,500,000 people a year, and nobody leaves the experience unmoved or uninspired.
Plan on a half-day, and make it in the morning as early as you can (from 7:30). The later you arrive, the longer you may have to wait to get started. There are lots of ways to get there, including car, public transportation, shuttles from some Waikiki hotels, tour buses and private tours. It will be easy for you to determine how you want to do it. Everybody in your party will have to get his or her own ticket, for which there is no charge.
The first thing you’ll do is watch a 23-minute documentary film that chronicles the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the worst naval disaster in American History. The film also will prepare you for the Navy launch trip to the USS Arizona Memorial itself. The launch is the only way you can get there.
Since 9/11/01, the security restrictions have tightened. You can’t carry anything that can provide concealment: purse, handbag, backpack, camera bag, diaper bag – either into the visitor center (where you start) or onto the boat. If you have a child in a stroller, the stroller’s pockets and compartments have to be empty. Yes, you may – and should – take a camera with you. There is no space for you to stow or check baggage; don’t take any. And no swimwear and/or bare feet.
As you wait for your tour to begin (every 15 minutes), listen in on the audio tour narrated by Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine. It’ll lead you through the Visitor Center, museum exhibits, and back-lawn exhibits.
Be prepared to be affected by the Memorial experience. Even if you weren’t born at the time of the attack and aren’t familiar with its full historical significance, you’ll literally be standing above a grave site where 1,177 men lost their lives when their ship was bombed by the Japanese Naval Forces. That’s more than half of the Americans killed that day during the attack.
The addition of the Battleship Missouri to the harbor and the 1999 opening of the USS Missouri Memorial has enhanced the Pearl Harbor area. Think about combining your Arizona visit with tours of “Mighty Mo,” the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and the Pacific Aviation Museum. (While the Arizona Memorial is free, there is a charge at each of the other venues, which are operated by private, non-profit groups.) If you do the whole drill, plan on about five well-spent hours. Yes, there are places to grab a bite.
As you plan your visit to Hawaii, by all means include Pearl Harbor. Pick an agent from our Web site home page (Hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll fit your tour easily into your schedule and either talk you through your visit or make the arrangements for you.