Adding a day at Pearl Harbor is a great activity to do if you want to see more of Oahu than just Ko’olina while staying at the Aulani. Pearl Harbor is very easily a full day activity if you have older children and two or three hours if you have younger kids.
If you don’t want to do any planning you can do an excursion through the Aulani and they will handle everything for you. Transportation is not provided, though they will find you transport for an additional fee. Personally, I think this is a pretty easy day trip, especially if you have a car. I would recommend doing it on your own so you can spend as much time as you like.
What is Pearl Harbor about?
Pearl Harbor is the memorial site for the USS Arizona which was sunk by the Japanese on December 7th in 1941. The Arizona and the men who perished on board rest where she was sunk.
There’s a lot more to do besides the USS Arizona memorial. Dont forget about the wonderful Pacific Aviation Museum that features WWII planes, the USS Missouri, and the USS Bowfin.
Ways to Get Tickets for Pearl Harbor Memorial
At Pearl Harbor you can get tickets two ways:
- Walk up tickets, which are first come first serve at 7 am HST. They have 1300 tickets a day.
- Advanced tickets which you can get online or through the call center. These are available two months in advance and sometimes for next day. They charge you $1.50 to process the tickets but in my opinion it’s worth it. Having advanced tickets take a lot of stress out of trying to rush in the morning to be there by 7 am HST.
Things you need to know about Visiting Pearl Harbor
This is still an active base. You cannot bring large bags while visiting. They do have lockers available to stow camera bags and backpacks. Small purses are allowed.
I would not recommend taking children younger than 7 to see the actual USS Arizona memorial. It’s a very somber, quiet, experience and young children might have a hard time grasping why they need to be so still and quiet. I personally don’t have a problem with kids being kids but I’ve seen negative interactions among visitors because someone did bring a loud toddler. (He was being a typical three year old, but again, this is a place of mourning.)
Some of the exhibits, the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin aren’t wheelchair accessible and I wouldn’t recommend them if you have any accessibility issues. The USS Missouri you will be able to get on Deck but I wouldn’t recommend going further than that as the stairs are steep.
The USS Bowfin in particular is difficult for accessibility. You need to be able to go down ladders, climb through hatches and duck to clear bulkheads. I’m 5’1 so I didn’t have any problems but Adolfo is six foot tall and a big guy and he thought it was a tight fit. He was ducking a lot and had to turn sideways to comfortably fit through some of the passages. It was absolutely worth it if you can manage it. Also, if you are claustrophobic this might be difficult for you.
The USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum are only accessible through the internal bus system. Again, Pearl Harbor is located on a working base and you cannot walk from destination to destination. Taking a stroll around at will could get you an interview with the MP.
Also, there is no video recording while on base. You are more than welcome to take pictures but you cannot bring go pros or any other video cameras with you.
How much time do I need at Pearl Harbor?
It really depends on what you want to do. If you are ONLY going to see the USS Arizona you can probably be in and out in two hours. Keep in mind that this is a very popular memorial and people from all over the world come to pay their respects. Before being transported to the memorial you watch a video about the attack. After the video you are taken to the memorial via ferry. You get about fifteen minutes to pay your respects.
If you plan on doing everything available I would give yourself a minimum of five hours. This is how long we spent and we would have gladly stayed longer than that. In fact the only reason we left is because we were starving. There weren’t many food options beyond hot dogs and chips.
Extra Recommendations for Visiting Pearl Harbor
Eat a big breakfast. Lots of walking around so you’ll need it to keep you going.
Bring a picnic lunch. Maybe stop by the beach and enjoy a nice laid back meal.