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Planning a Day in Pearl Harbor
Oahu, Hawaii

The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor is the #1 most popular visitor attraction in Hawaii. The information on this page will help you plan an Oahu day trip that includes visiting the USS Arizona Memorial and three of the next most popular attractions in Pearl Harbor: the USS Bowfin Submarine, the USS Missouri Battleship, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

View of Ford Island from the USS Bowfin Park
The visitors in this picture are standing in the center of the Waterfront Submarine Memorial in Bowfin Park. In the distance you can see the USS Missouri Battleship, the famous red and white striped tower on Ford Island, and the USS Arizona Memorial. The new Pacific Aviation Museum is located just beyond the red and white tower.
Copyright © Kathleen Walling Fry



Introduction to Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is located on the south coast of the island of Oahu and it is the largest harbor in Hawaii. It is also a United States National Historic Landmark. Pearl Harbor is most famous for being the target of a surprise attack by Japanese fighter planes on December 7, 1941. On December 8, 1941 the United States declared war on Japan and on December 11, 1941 Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. On September 2, 1945 the Japanese officially surrendered to the United States in a formal ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri Battleship which, at the time, was anchored in Tokyo Bay.

Most Popular Attractions in Pearl Harbor
There are four main visitor attractions in Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine, the USS Missouri Battleship, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The visitor centers and museums for the Arizona Memorial and the Bowfin Submarine are located next to each other, on the shore of Pearl Harbor, not far from the Aloha Stadium. A shuttle bus transports visitors from the Arizona/Bowfin area to Ford Island so they can tour the Missouri Battleship and visit the Pacific Aviation Museum. The bus stop for the Ford Island shuttle is located between the USS Arizona Museum and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. There is no extra charge for the shuttle if you have purchased a ticket for the USS Missouri Battleship Tour or the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The Cost of Visiting Pearl Harbor
If you want to visit all four of Pearl Harbor's main attractions the admission fees will total about $40. The cost will be a bit more if you rent the self-guided headset tours at the USS Arizona, USS Bowfin, and USS Missouri. They typically rent for about $2-$5 each. The audio tours are optional, but I rented them for all three attractions. I enjoyed all of the audio tours but I especially appreciated having the self-guided audio tour of the USS Missouri Battleship. Interesting features and historic spots on the battleship are marked with numbers. When you see a number you can key it into your handset to learn all about it. In some cases, you will hear actual historic radio news coverage of historic events.
  • USS Arizona Memorial, Boat Transfer, and Museum (free)
  • Bowfin Park Outdoor Exhibits and Submarine Memorial (free)
  • USS Bowfin Submarine Tour and Indoor Museum ($10 admission)
  • USS Missouri Battleship Tour ($16 admission)
  • Pacific Aviation Museum ($14 admission)
  • City Bus ($2 each way, about 1-1/4 hour each way)
    TIP: 4-day $20 city bus passes are available at Waikiki's ABC stores

    Logistics of Visiting Pearl Harbor
    Most Pearl Harbor visitors see the USS Arizona Memorial and the Bowfin Submarine first, because they are located next each other on the Oahu mainland. Next they typically take the shuttle to Ford Island to visit the USS Missouri Battleship and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship are actually located right next to each other, in the water just off of Ford Island, but you travel to the Arizona Memorial by boat, and you travel to the USS Missouri via a shuttle bus that takes you across the Admiral Clarey Bridge to Ford Island.

    Where to Eat at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
  • Between the USS Arizona Museum and the USS Bowfin Museum there is a 1940's canteen style open-air cafe with several food stalls.
  • Inside the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island there is a nice little cafe that sells things like stir-fry dishes, salads, hamburgers, and other sandwiches
  • Inside the USS Arizona Museum there is a self-serve, automat-style vending machine area. I think there might be another one near the USS Bowfin Museum.

    Shopping at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
    There are interesting museum shops at all four spots: the USS Arizona Museum, the USS Bowfin Museum, the USS Missouri Battleship, and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

    Security Measures At All Pearl Harbor Attractions <-- IMPORTANT!
    Strict security measures prohibit purses, handbags, fanny packs, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, luggage and any other items that offer concealment. Visitors may bring a camera and cam-recorder. A storage facility, operated by a private vendor, is available for visitors coming to the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Battleship Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum. The facility can be found at the entrance to the USS Bowfin Submarine Park. There is a nominal storage fee. The storage facility is in operation daily 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Visitors may use the same bag storage and parking stall for all three tours. Security measures are strictly enforced at all visitor destinations on Pearl Harbor. Federal law enforcement officers and security bike patrols monitor the parking lots. However it is not recommended to secure items of value in your car. Be safe: do not travel with valuables and use the storage locker.


    USS Arizona Memorial and USS Bowfin Submarine
    (Oahu Mainland)

    The visitor's center for memorial to the sunken USS Arizona Battleship and the USS Bowfin Submarine, Museum and Park are located next to each other on the shore of Pearl Harbor, near the Aloha Stadium.

    USS Arizona Memorial
    This memorial is the final resting place for many of the USS Arizona Battleship's 1177 crew members who lost their lives USS Arizona Memorial when their ship was sunk by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. The Arizona Memorial commemorates the site where World War II began for the United States. It is open from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm and I highly recommend arriving early to avoid a long wait. Visiting the memorial is free, and since it is the most popular visitor attraction in Hawaii, the lines can be very long during peak periods. Sometimes all of the tours are sold out by noon. When you arrive at the museum you will have an opportunity to rent a headset audio tour for about $5. The Arizona Museum audio tour is interesting, because it is narrated by actor Ernest Bourgnine and real-life survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but if you don't want to spend the money you can enjoy the museum without it. You will be invited to tour the USS Arizona indoor museum while you are waiting for the tour you have been assigned to. If you will have an exceptionally long wait you can also visit the Bowfin Submarine Museum while you are waiting for your Arizona tour time slot. When your tour begins, you will first watch a very moving 25 minute film about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the USS Arizona. Then you will board a boat for a short, scenic cruise across Pearl Harbor. When you arrive at the memorial you will be given 10 or 15 minutes to walk around on the memorial before you are transported back to the visitors center.

    USS Bowfin Submarine
    The USS Bowfin Submarine USS Arizona Memorial was launched for the first time on December 7, 1942, exactly one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was nicknamed the "Pearl Harbor Avenger". The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park is located right next door to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitors Center. There are three different attractions in Bowfin Park. There is a free outdoor museum on both sides of the indoor museum with missiles, memorials, and gunnery exhibits. The 10,000 square foot indoor museum is filled with interesting submarine-related exhibits. Visitors can also walk through the actual USS Bowfin Submarine, which is docked in the water just outside the museum. The outdoor museum is free but there is a $10 admission charge that covers both the indoor museum and walking around inside the submarine. You can also rent a headset audio tour of the submarine for about $2. See also USS Bowfin Introduction and USS Bowfin Photos.
    TIP: The Bowfin Museum was COLD the day I was there


    USS Missouri Battleship and Pacific Aviation Museum
    (Ford Island)

    The USS Missouri Battleship Tour and the Pacific Aviation Museum are located on Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor. There is a bridge from Ford Island to the Oahu mainland, but only authorized military and tour vehicles are permitted to enter. After you purchase your tickets to either attraction you can take the free shuttle bus to Ford Island. The bus stop for the shuttle is located between the USS Arizona Museum and the USS Bowfin Museum.

    USS Missouri Battleship
    This 108-foot United States battleship is most famous for being the site where Japan signed the formal instrument of surrender, effectively ending World War II in 1945. The ceremony was conducted by General Douglas MacArthur. The ship was retired in 1992 and public tours have been offered since 1999. For photos and more information see USS Missouri Introduction and USS Missouri Photos. USS Missouri Battleship Tour


    Pacific Aviation Museum
    Pacific Aviation Museum The first phase of the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor opened to the public on December 7, 2006. The museum is located in Hanger 37, near Ford Island's distinctive red and white striped submarine tower and low-rise air traffic control tower. It can only be reached by boarding one of the bus shuttles that run between the USS Arizona Memorial and Ford Island.


    Other Pearl Harbor Attractions

    Ford Island
    Pearl Harbor's Ford Island was named after Doctor Seth Porter Ford, a physician who owned the island in the mid 1800's. Before the 1800's, the island was called Mokuumeume by the Hawaiians. After Ford Island was purchased by the United States military, it was turned into a Naval base and airfield. The area along the south side of Ford Island is known as "Battleship Row". There are plaques on Ford Island to mark the spots where the eighteen battleships were sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Ford Island


    Admiral Clarey Bridge
    Admiralty Clarey Bridge to Ford Island The bridge connecting Pearl Harbor's Ford Island with mainland Oahu is called the Admiral Clarey Bridge and it was named after Admiral Bernard Clarey. The bridge is 4,700 feet long and it was opened in May of 1998. Before 1998 Ford Island could only be access by ferry or aircraft.


    Aloha Stadium
    The Aloha Stadium is the home of the Pro Bowl Football Game and the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. It is located near the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites and it can be seen from the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri Battleship. The boat in this picture is transporting visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial. Ford Island


    X-Band Radar System
    X Band Radar System Docked in Pearl Harbor It's hard to believe this $900 million, 28-story radar system can be transported across the ocean on a ship. Here are some photos I took of the system when it first arrived in Hawaii in January of 2006: X Band Radar System Docked in Pearl Harbor.


    More Photos and Information About Pearl Harbor
  • Aerial Photos of Pearl Harbor
  • Pearl Harbor Historic Trail

    Companies Offering Group Tours of Pearl Harbor
  • Home of the Brave Tours
  • Duck Amphibious Vehicle Tours
  • E Noa Tours
  • Polynesian Adventure Tours
  • Roberts Hawaii Tours



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