What You Need to Know About Visiting Pearl Harbor

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Tour pearl harbor

If you’re planning on visiting the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, you’ll probably want to spend much of your time lounging on the sand, riding some waves, or hitting the streets of Waikiki for some luxury shopping. But you should also consider making some time on your visit for a more solemn excursion: a Pearl Harbor tour. Here’s some information on Pearl Harbor you should know as you plan your trip:

The History of Pearl Harbor

“Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is not drill!” That famous message, sent from the headquarters of Patrol Wing Two, is what woke U.S. servicemembers stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The attack, carried out by Japanese forces, is what led the United States into World War II; war was formally declared on Japan the following day.

In the attacks, all eight U.S. battleships stationed at the naval base were heavily damaged, and four were sunk. Also, 188 American aircraft were destroyed. All told, 2,403 Americans died and another 1,178 others were injured.

The Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor now serves as a site for solemn contemplation of the many lives lost on that day. Of the sunken warships, only one — the USS Arizona — was left unraised, and it serves as the final resting place for 1,177 crewmembers. A bridge-like memorial has now been built over the shipwreck (dedicated on Memorial Day, 1962), and visitors are taken by boat to the site, where they can still see the hull of the warship in the water and read the names of the fallen engraved in the beautiful white stone.

How to Tour Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona Memorial is the primary attraction at Pearl Habor, and a visitor’s center across the water from it plays an informative video sharing the history and some information on Pearl Harbor. The total visit, including the documentary and boat rides to and from the memorial, takes just over an hour. Pearl Harbor also hosts some other noteworthy sites: a submarine museum, an aviation museum and the USS Missouri battleship. Guided small group tours are a good way to efficiently see all these sites in a single day, and can alleviate transportation concerns as Pearl Harbor is not conveniently located for tourists staying in any of the major resort areas.

You should keep in mind when visiting that Pearl Harbor is still an active military base, and act accordingly. For that reason, you will also be asked to check bags and backpacks; if your tour group does not provide secure storage, you can pay a $3 fee to have your bags held in a storage area on site.

Do you plan to visit Pearl Harbor? Do you have any other information on Pearl Harbor to add? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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