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14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor Arizona Memorial

14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor in Oahu

by Family Globetrotters

No Visit to Oahu Would Be Complete Without Visiting Pearl Harbor. To Help You Navigate These Memorials, Museums and Monuments, Here Are Some Vital Things to Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor.

We were very much looking forward to visiting Pearl Harbor and we had dedicated a few hours in our itinerary. Little did I know however the amount of planning and research that was required before making this visit! I found the whole process a little confusing. So, to assist with your visit and to help make sure it’s an easy process for you and your family, here are some essential things to know before visiting Pearl Harbor.

#01 – HOW TO GET TO PEARL HARBOR. 

How to Get to Pearl Harbor by Car.

We decided to rent a car for the day as there were other places we wanted to get to in the southern parts of Oahu. If you’d like to know what else we did you can check out our long list of things to do in Oahu with kids. 

If you’re coming from Waikiki, get on the H-1 West Freeway and take exit 15A, Arizona Memorial.

Cost: Parking is free at Pearl Harbor.

Top tip: When we arrived at 09.00am, there were quite a few car parks left so there was no issue in finding one. We left around 11.30am and the parking by that time was full.

How to Get to Pearl Harbor by Bus.

The cheapest way to Pearl Harbor is by public transport.

Cost: A daily ticket will only cost you USD$5.50 for an adult and USD$2.75 for a child.

Bus route: Buses #20 or #42 from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor will take you about an hour.

Top tip: Please note that the buses have less routes on the weekend so do check the timetable so you’re not waiting for long periods of time.

How to Get to Pearl Harbor by Taxi/Uber.

This will cost about USD$40 each way and the journey takes about 25 minutes each way.

#02 – CAN I BRING MY BAG TO PEARL HARBOR?

Pearl Harbor is an active Navy base therefore no bags are permitted. No backpacks, purses, fanny packs, camera bags, luggage, shopping bags or even diaper bags. I was permitted to enter with a small pouch the size of my hand. Otherwise wear clothing with a ton of pockets!

What if I need a bag for later?
Bag storage is available on site at a cost of USD$4.00 per bag. The Pearl Harbor storage facility is in operation daily from 6:30am to 5:30pm.

14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor Sign

Make Sure You Are Aware of What Is Permitted And What Is Not.

#03 – CAN I BRING MY CAMERA TO PEARL HARBOR?

No camera bags are permitted inside Pearl Harbour.

But I want to bring my camera!
Not to worry. You still can. We had our Canon DLSR and we just carried it around our neck and were allowed to do so. We also had to hand carry our second lens.

Good to know: Selfie sticks are currently still also permitted.

#04 – CAN I BRING MY STROLLER/PRAM TO PEARL HARBOR?

Strollers and prams are allowed inside the visitor centre but it is not permitted in the theatre or the shuttle boat, which is essentially your tour of the USS Arizona Memorial. The stroller may be left outside the start of the tour with the Park Rangers. That means for the tour you will have to carry your baby or toddler for at least 75 minutes.

Can I put my diaper bag in the stroller?
Nope! The storage compartment of your pram cannot house your diaper or nappy bags. You can however place your diapers or nappies in that space along with your baby food and wipes.

#05 – PEARL HARBOR DRESS CODE

Pearl Harbor is a place of honour and has deep historical meaning. Whilst there is no strict dress code, bathing suits, clothing revealing too much skin (very short shorts) or clothing with profanity in its design is deemed inappropriate.

Top tip: Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking to be done.

#06 – SLIP SLOP SLAP WHEN VISITING PEARL HARBOR.

The visitor centre is essentially an open-air museum and there are very few shaded areas. It was a really hot day when we visited so its essential you have on some sunscreen, bring a hat and some sunglasses.

#07 – THINGS TO DO IN PEARL HARBOR.

I had no idea how big Pearl Harbor was and I have to admit I found it all very confusing to start with. So, let me break it down for you.

Pearl Harbor has 4 sections of which they are all independent of each other. What they have in common is that they are in one area. I will delve into more specifics in the other points below.

  • Area One: USS Arizona Memorial. This is the main tour that people take and is completely free. This is the tour where you get on a shuttle boat and that takes you out to see the memorial of the USS Arizona.
  • Area Two: USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. After you finish the tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, the next closest attraction is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. If you are into submarines and have never been on one, this is your chance.
  • Area Three: Battleship Missouri Memorial. This is the one opportunity to get on a real-life battleship and it comes with an audio tour as well.
  • Area Four: Pacific Aviation Museum. Access to the hangers to check out over 50 aircrafts.

So, it has been said that if you wanted to do everything and learn everything about the history of Pearl Harbor, you need to set aside 8 hours.

See below for information on an all access pass if you intend on visiting all the sites and museums. If you’re only interested in some of the parks and museums, keep reading below to find out information and costs for the individual sights.

#08 – CAN I VISIT PEARL HARBOR FOR FREE?

As mentioned above, the main tour that people take when visiting Pearl Harbor is the USS Arizona Memorial program. This involves a 23-minute feature film that explains everything you need to know about what happened on this dreaded day followed by a shuttle boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial.

Cost: This USS Arizona Memorial tour is free.

If you have been doing some research (we didn’t, we just rocked up!), you would have heard that people sometimes line up for 7+ hours to get a ticket and some people arrive as early as 6am. We got there around 8.45am, got our tickets with no queuing and hopped on the 09.15am tour. It must have been our lucky day! There are 1300 Pearl Harbor walk in tickets available each day with the first tour at 7am.

Can I book my tickets in advance?
You can now book your tickets online to avoid the queues and to also secure your share for the day.

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14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial Hovers the Hull of The Battleship Without Touching It.

#09 – TIPS FOR USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL TOUR.

Get to the start of the tour at the appointed time. You will be greeted by a park ranger that will explain the tour to you and what to expect. As mentioned above, strollers are to be left outside and phones are not to be used, not even for texting. This 75-minute tour is about paying quiet respect to those who have lost their lives.

About the film and top tip:
We were then ushered into the theatre for a 23-minute feature film that shows you everything you need to know about what happened at Pearl Harbor. The film includes real footage of the day and is incredibly moving. If you know nothing about the Battle of Pearl Harbor, this is the best place to start. After the film concludes, you are ushered onto the shuttle boat for the rest of the tour. The doors are located on the left of the theatre so if you want to grab a good seat, sit that side if possible so you exit first.

Tips about the shuttle boat:
When you get on the boat, try to get a seat right on the edges so you can get an unobstructed view for photos. It doesn’t matter whether you sit on the left or the right as the boats turn at all angles for everyone to get a good shot. The shuttle boat is narrated the entire time as you head out onto the water. Please be advised that the shuttle boat tour did not allow us on the memorial itself. We were only permitted to pay our respects from a distance.

There are no restrooms in the theater or the shuttle boat so be sure to go before starting your free tour.

14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor Shuttle Boat

This Is the Shuttle Boat That Takes You Out to The USS Arizona Memorial.

#10 – PASSPORT TO PEARL HARBOR – ALL ACCESS PASS.

If you are a true history buff and which to visit everything available in Pearl Harbor, it would be advisable to get the Passport to Pearl Harbor.

Cost: It costs USD$99.99 per adult and USD$56.99 for children between the ages of 4-12 years.

Your Passport to Pearl Harbor includes:

  • Audio tour of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and Museum
  • Audio guide to the USS Arizona Memorial
  • Admission and Acoustiguide tour of the Battleship Missouri Memorial
  • Admission to the Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center
  • Transportation to and from Ford Island from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center
  • Tickets to the Pacific Aviation Museum including WWII Hangars 37 and 79
  • Audio tour of the Pacific Aviation Museum
  • Admission and audio tour of the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
  • Oklahoma Memorial

Please note: If you purchase the Passport to Pearl Harbor at the visitor centre, it DOES NOT include the timed USS Arizona Memorial Tour. You will have to arrange that separately as it is free.

Top tip: However, if you get your Passport to Pearl from the recreation.gov website, it includes the USS Arizona Memorial tour. So, this would be your best bet, so you don’t miss out.

Another top tip: If you can’t finish the tour in one day and you’re able to return within the 7 days from the date of purchase, you can extend the Passport to Pearl Harbor for $10.00 at the Visitor Centre.

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#11 – PEARL HARBOR TOURS.

Google Pearl Harbor tours and you will be inundated with choices. As we didn’t get on one, I don’t have any to recommend but you will have no trouble finding one that will suit you. Although I have heard many mention the Pearl Harbor Deluxe Tour which includes transfers and some also offer lunch.

#12 – USS BOWFIN SUBMARINE MUSEUM & PARK.

The USS Bowfin Submarine is also located at Pearl Harbor and can be done independently of all the other available museums or tours. Admission to the USS Bowfin includes admission to the museum as well as a free self-guided audio tour. The park area includes a Waterfront Submarine Memorial, a Japanese suicide torpedo and other free outdoor exhibits.

Cost: Admission is USD$15.00 for adults and USD$7.00 for children (4-12 years of age).

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14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor USS Bowfin Memorial

Waterfront Submarine Memorial Near The USS Bowfin.

14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor Torpedos

Training Torpedo

#13 – USS MISSOURI BATTLESHIP.

If you’re not interested in getting the Passport to Pearl Harbor but would like to also visit the USS Missouri, you can just purchase those tickets.

Cost: The cost is USD$29.00 for adults and USD$13.00 for children (4-12 years of age). Other options are also available if you wish for a more in-depth tour.

14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor Torpedo Tubes

#14 – PACIFIC AVIATION MUSEUM.

Again, if you would like to only visit the museum instead of buying the Passport to Pearl Harbor, you can do so at a separate admission price. You will be provided with a self-guided audio tour of hangers 37 & 39. Here you will be able to get access to over 50+ aircrafts and all of the exhibits.

Cost: USD$20.00 for adults and USD$10.00 for children (4-12 years of age).

Phew! And there you have it. So many things to know before visiting Pearl Harbor! But as I have always said, best to do all the hard work before you go to avoid disappointment as this is one of the top things to do in Oahu.

The best day to visit Pearl Harbor would be any weekday. Try and avoid the weekends if possible.

Many people wonder if Pearl Harbor is worth visiting and my verdict is a definite yes. You don’t have to  be a history buff or be interested in anything to do with war. It is still a highly educational and moving place to visit.

The key takeaways before visiting Pearl Harbor are:

    • Pearl Harbor is an active Navy Base so dress appropriately and security is paramount hence the inability to bring anything in.
    • Pearl Harbor is a memorial and therefore suitable behavior in paying respect to those who lost their lives is required. This is not a theme park.
    • If you wish to see everything it has to offer, get the Passport to Pearl Harbor from the recreation.gov website as it includes the free USS Arizona Memorial tour and is the only website you can get this from. Allow about 8 hours.
    • If you don’t wish to see everything, you can buy tickets separately for the individual museums that may interest you.
Don't make these mistakes or you'll be disappointed when you visit Pearl Harbor. Here are 4 KEY TIPS you must be aware of before you go! #thingstodopearlharbor #ussarizona #oahutravel Click To Tweet

BONUS TIP #1 – RELATED ARTICLES

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14 Things To Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor

Disclaimer: The Family Globetrotter’s website contains affiliate links which help us to maintain this blog and assists us with our travels, at no extra cost to you. Family Globetrotters have also posted articles based on sponsored products and/or services, but all opinions are our own, truthful and unbiased.

32 comments

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Ethan April 19, 2019 - 4:30 am

You got the image caption wrong, its inside the bowfin, not the Battleship. Battleships dont have torpedoes.

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Top 50 Things to Do in Oahu With Kids | Family Globetrotters September 11, 2018 - 3:53 pm

[…] Pearl Harbor is a huge visitor centre and as it is an active navy base, there are many things you need to know before going. We have done all the research for you and here is everything you need to know before visiting Pearl Harbor. […]

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aareeba September 5, 2018 - 4:05 am

This is one place which am definitely going to visit when am in Oahu. Thanks a lot for these tips as we are planning our tip to oahu soon and this really helps

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Family Globetrotters December 13, 2018 - 11:02 am

Oh great! Glad that it will be useful for you when you visit. Have a great time! Love this place!

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Lisa August 30, 2018 - 4:32 am

Pearl Harbour was such a tragic event, and a place I’d never thought of visiting before. However, as I’m quite a history buff, I would make time to see it. I’ll definitely take your advice and arrive early, or book my ticket online. Waiting 7 hours does not sound like fun! The passport is probably not for me, but it’s good to know it exists for those who want an all-access pass.

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Family Globetrotters December 13, 2018 - 11:02 am

Oh Lisa if you’re a history buff then yes, this is well worth a visit for you. We didn’t get the passport either. Upon researching we felt that we didn’t need ot see everything so we just opted to only go on a couple of thinks and view what was free.

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Amar singh August 30, 2018 - 2:45 am

Have always wanted to visit this historic place and your post has only made it more interesting. The history behind it yes but didn’t know there was stuff fir the kids as well. Sad you can’t take photos or carry your own bag in their. Good that it is quite accessible by a lot of different types of transport. It’s worth doing research and going there.

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Family Globetrotters December 13, 2018 - 11:01 am

Oh you can take photos! You just can’t carry a big camera bag. Just put the camera around your neck or just use your phone. Yes, definitely worth a visit.

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Yukti August 30, 2018 - 12:14 am

Thanks for sharing great tips on Pearl Harbour. The tour starts with 23-minute feature is great, because it will again revive our memories as we have forgotten many details on it. I was not knowing that we have to get Passport to access it. Also a great tip of not carrying big cameras as I always carry it. Better I will take photos on my mobile.

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Family Globetrotters December 13, 2018 - 10:56 am

I needed the feature film as I wasn’t very knowledgeable about the entire history and how it all came to be. It made a huge difference and allowed me to see Pearl Harbor in a whole different light. As for the bags, yeah, almost half the people that went to the entrance all had to turn back or head to the lockers.

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Navita August 29, 2018 - 9:59 pm

Those are really important tips to know before visiting Pearl Harbor. There are so many things that should not be carried along. Its good that one can take different mores of transportation to get to Pearl Harbor. Would definitely try and go for a seat on the edges of the shuttle boat to get a good view for clicking pictures! After all, pictures are what keep the trip alive forever! Passport to Port Harbor looks like a good tour. Even though appears a bit expensive, if one is going all the way, would be worth to have an immersive experience.

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Family Globetrotters December 13, 2018 - 10:55 am

Yes the Passport is not cheap but neither are the individual entrée prices if you wanted to visit all of it. But I guess if you’re really into it and you may never go back, it may be worth the expense. Hence I mentioned it in the article so we can save up for it and be prepared.

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Sandy N Vyjay August 29, 2018 - 3:43 pm

Pearl Harbour is indeed a slice of history that has impacted the entire world. I am sure a visit here is a fascinating as well as poignant experience. I think getting a Pearl Harbour passport makes sense as once you are there you would like to cover everything. I am sure this makes for a very interesting and satisfying day trip.

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Family Globetrotters August 29, 2018 - 9:25 pm

Yes, Pearl Harbor is an important part of history as it marked the USA’s entry into World War II. There was so much to learn there and people from all walks of life. The Passport to Pearl Harbor is an excellent one stop shop if you’d like to see everything.

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Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women August 29, 2018 - 10:17 am

It’s been a few years now since I visited Pearl Harbour with a bunch of other ladies in our sporting team. I agree that it definitely a worthwhile place to visit and I am so impressed with all the information you have gathered here. This would be so ideal for anyone considering going there for a visit…wish I could have read this first but we were on a tour at the time so we followed the program that had been arranged.

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Family Globetrotters August 29, 2018 - 1:49 pm

Glad you enjoyed your trip with your sporting team. It really is a worthwhile visit. And thanks1 glad you thought it might be useful for those who are visiting Pearl Harbor for the first time.

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Maggie August 29, 2018 - 12:35 am

Great tips! Not sure I’ll visit any time soon since my 6 year old isn’t really a fan of war history yet but it sounds like you guys had a good experience! The Statue of Liberty had many of the same rules-no bags of any kind, they had to go into lockers. I’ll have to go look up your other post on things to do with kids in the area.

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Family Globetrotters August 29, 2018 - 1:48 pm

My daughter certainly wasn’t a war history buff and to be honest neither am I. But it wasn’t really a visit for entertainment rather than an educational visit and for me to understand what happened on this day. It was incredibly moving and when you read everything that had happened, gosh you can’t help but feel what a shame for all those lives lost.

I didn’t go up the Statue of Liberty but that’s good to know if I decide I want to do that one day. As for what else there is to do in the area, check out my blog post about the top 50 things to do in Oahu: https://familyglobetrotters.com/things-to-do-in-oahu-with-kids/

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Sreekar Harinatha August 28, 2018 - 2:10 pm

I have read about the history of this place and would surely make for a great trip. Will take your tips and would love to check out Battleship USS Missouri especially!

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Family Globetrotters August 29, 2018 - 1:52 pm

Thanks Sreekar! Glad you think my tips will be able to help when planning your trip. Yeah, the USS Missouri is definitely a worthwhile experience. My partner loved it!

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Priya Florence Shah August 25, 2018 - 7:06 am

A very interesting trip for those who love military history and museums. I don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to go to Pearl Harbor, but it’s nice to learn about it.

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Family Globetrotters August 28, 2018 - 11:18 am

Yes I agree although I am not an avid fan of war history yet I found the place fascinating. And more importantly was educational for my daughter. And you never know! You may get there one day!

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eli August 25, 2018 - 2:26 am

Would love to visit this and experience and understand the history of the area. Thank you for such a detailed guide! I didn’t know there was so much to visiting Pearl Harbor

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Family Globetrotters August 28, 2018 - 11:21 am

It’s quite the eye opener and all in all, such a sad time in history. Yeah I didn’t know either! So much to see and do so it’s important to make sure you know what you’re up for:)

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daniele August 24, 2018 - 7:18 pm

I really would love to visit Hawaii so bad.
It’s far away from Italy but I hope to plan a visit soon 🙂

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Family Globetrotters August 28, 2018 - 11:29 am

It’s a wonderful place with all its culture and nature. Yes it is far from Europe! But hopefully one day:)

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Rachelle August 24, 2018 - 1:33 am

I didn’t make it to Oahu while I was in Hawaii, but I’m just dying to go! I love history and visiting historical sites, so Pearl would be ideal. My friend’s brother is currently serving in the US Marines and is stationed at Pearl!

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Family Globetrotters August 24, 2018 - 3:35 pm

Where did you go in Hawaii instead? Next time I go back I would love to do Maui and Molokai. they so stunning! Oh wow, can’t be all bad being stationed in Hawaii! Wonderful service for the country.

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Rachelle August 25, 2018 - 1:32 am

Haha oddly enough we were on Maui and Molokai!

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Family Globetrotters August 28, 2018 - 11:21 am

No way!!! Hahahah! Ok definitely on the bucket list now!

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Marquita August 24, 2018 - 12:04 am

This is a great guide for Pearl Harbor. I didn’t realize there were four different areas tourist could access and walk through. It would be pretty cool to go inside a submarine.

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Family Globetrotters August 24, 2018 - 3:34 pm

We didn’t know either! So when I researched it I was so confused. So if you really love all things Pearl Harbor it takes an entire day to get through it all.

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