Pearl Harbor - Oahu Hawaii | Go Hawaii

Pearl Harbor

Scroll to Continue

Pearl Harbor

Five historic sites honoring the events occurring at this National Historic Landmark in Central Oahu, about 30 minutes from Waikiki

Known the world over as a “date which will live in infamy,” the devastating events of December 7, 1941 changed the course of history. It was here that a surprise air attack by the Japanese plunged the United States into World War II, claiming thousands of lives. 

At Pearl Harbor, that tragic history is never too far in the past. Hear first-hand stories from survivors describing the chaotic scene on Battleship Row. Walk through an airplane hangar that still bears the scars from that fateful morning. And peer into the shallow harbor where the sunken hull of the USS Arizona rests, still leaking oil that pools on the water’s surface like black tears, as they’ve been described. Visiting Pearl Harbor is an experience that will be etched into your soul forever and will offer you a new perspective on World War II.

December 7, 2016 marked 75 years since that fateful day. A large-scale 11-day commemoration event to celebrate the survivors of the attack and honor those who lost their lives commenced in Oahu. The intent of this was to find a way to bridge the gap of generations and set the ground work for what is ahead of us for the future. The theme of this event that carries on today was “Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future.” “As we look to the future, we each have an opportunity and a personal responsibility to invest in and commit to inspiring the leaders of tomorrow, using history to help empower choices that negate fateful outcomes,” said Admiral Thomas Fargo in a statement.

The Hawaiian name for Pearl Harbor was Puuloa (Iong hill). Later named Pearl Harbor for the pearl oysters that were once harvested from the waters, the natural harbor is the largest in Hawaii. Ulu (breadfruit) was said to be brought here from Samoa.

Attractions at Pearl Harbor

Immerse yourself for a part or more of the day in five historic sites that comprise Pearl Harbor today: the WWII Valor in the Pacific, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

Purchase the Passport to Pearl Harbor for an all-inclusive ticket to all the sites.

WWII Valor in the Pacific (USS Arizona Memorial)

The site of the most devastating loss of life, the USS Arizona was hit by a 1,760-pound armor-piercing bomb at 8:06 a.m. on December 7, 1941. The catastrophic explosion that resulted sank this massive battleship in nine minutes, killing 1,177 crewmen.

Today, the USS Arizona Memorial (part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument) is a place of somber beauty and quiet reflection. Begin at the Visitor Center, where you can watch a film about the attack and view plaques honoring lives lost on that fateful day. You’ll then take a boat shuttle to the floating memorial built overtop the sunken hull of the Arizona, the final resting place for many of the ship’s crew. In the shrine room, a marble wall exhibits the names of the men who lost their lives. Poignant and powerful, this is a place where visitors come face to face with the devastating effects of war. 

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is free, but visitors must reserve a time slot for the boat tour in advance. You can do this online (a $1.50 fee will be charged) up to two months in advance. Alternately, 1,300 tickets are released each morning at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center; the memorial sees an average of 4,000 visitors per day, so show up early (doors open at 7 a.m.) to reserve your same-day time slot in person, fee free. For $7.50, you can add a self-guided, narrated tour for a more immersive experience. 

Battleship Missouri Memorial

General Macarthur accepted the unconditional Japanese surrender that ended World War II on September 2, 1945, on the Surrender Deck of the Battleship Missouri. Now located at Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row, the massive “Mighty Mo” is a living museum, with exhibits spanning three wars and five decades of service.

Explore the decks of this 60,000-ton battleship, three football fields long and 20 stories tall. Stand on the Surrender Deck and view the documents that ended the war. Take a tour and get special access to restricted areas. Don’t miss the ship’s most stunning feature: towering 16-inch guns that could fire a 2,700-pound shell 23 miles. 

More Details: Tour Options and Purchase Tickets: Call 808-455-1600 (x251) or Book Online 
Hours: Daily 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Duration: Plan between 2-3 hours

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

Also known as the “Pearl Harbor Avenger,” the USS Bowfin (SS-287) is one of 288 U.S. submarines that carried out the war in the Pacific. Start at the submarine museum and learn about the battle beneath the seas. A tour of the grounds will take you to a Waterfront Memorial honoring submariners lost in World War II. Then, step aboard the Bowfin and descend below deck to tour its torpedo room, engine room and sleeping quarters.

More Details: Tour Options and Purchase Tickets: Call 808-455-1600 (x251) or Book Online 
Hours: Daily 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Duration: Plan between 1-2 hours

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The Museum is home to two WWII era hangars which survived the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Ford Island Control Tower. The hangars and surrounding tarmac still bear the scars of the attack in the form of bullet holes, strafe marks, and bomb craters. 

As you step into the hangars, you cross the threshold of time and walk into the pages of history.  Up first is a short introductory film in the 200-seat theater that sets the tone with memories from survivors recounting the day of the Japanese attack. Then, it’s on to the vintage aircraft.

With 50 aircraft on display, including the instantly recognizable Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and its nemesis, the Mitsubishi Zero, the 1942 Stearman Biplane flown by President George H.W. Bush and the remnants of the “Ni‘ihau Zero,” which crash landed on Ni‘ihau Island after the Pearl Harbor attack. Among the other aircraft on exhibit are some of aviation’s most iconic military aircraft, like the B-17 “Swamp Ghost” Flying Fortress, F-15 Eagle and AH-1 Cobra. From propeller planes to the jets of the Korean War and the Vietnam War, the Museum offers a compelling visual timeline of aviation history as advancements led to ever faster and deadlier aircraft.

More Details: Tour Options and Purchase Tickets: Call 808-423-1341 or Book Online 
Hours: Daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Duration: Plan between 1-2 hours

USS Oklahoma Memorial

Dedicated on December 7, 2007, the USS Oklahoma Memorial honors the 429 crewmen who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack. Approximately nine torpedoes hit “The Okie,” capsizing this 35,000-ton battleship in just 12 minutes. Some crewmen were actually trapped in compartments below deck after the ship capsized. They used hammers and wrenches to signal rescue crews on the surface; two days after the attack, 32 men were rescued from the ship’s overturned hull.

More Details: To visit the memorial purchase shuttle tickets at the USS Bowfin ticket counter, just north of the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center. You can combine the Oklahoma Memorial with visits to the Battleship Missouri Memorial Museum or the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, also located on Ford Island. 
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. (summers open until 5 p.m.)
Duration: Plan approximately an hour

More Planning Your Visit Info 

Check out each attraction for ticket details or purchase the Passport to Pearl Harbor for an all-inclusive ticket to all the sites. Or, if you are interisland, start at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to purchase tickets and get information on all of the museums and memorials before beginning your journey. The Visitor Center is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day).

Boat tours are canceled when winds are above 25 MPH (a very rare occurrence). You can also purchase a Passport to Pearl Harbor package, which includes admission to all four partner sites, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum). 

Pearl Harbor is still an active U.S. naval base. Due to increased security, the following items are prohibited: purses, backpacks, fanny packs, diaper bags, camera bags, luggage and any other items that provide concealment. Bag storage is available for an extra fee.