Pearl Harbor
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Pearl Harbor: Tours & Tickets

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Remembering Pearl Harbor in 5 facts

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the 9/11 of its day, remembered as a defining moment of the Second World War. But Pearl Harbor is about much more than its most tragic moment. Here's a brief history to prepare you for your tour!

It was once a sacred site

It was once a sacred site

The large bay was originally called Wai Momi, or "Waters of Pearl." According to Hawaiian legend, it's home to the shark goddess, Kaʻahupahau.

It's been expanded twice

It's been expanded twice

First by the Ewa chief, Keaunui, who reshaped the estuary to make it accessible. Then, in 1869, the US deepened the waters leading into the harbor while Hawaii was still a kingdom.

Hawaii wasn't part of the US when it was attacked

Hawaii wasn't part of the US when it was attacked

The kingdom made way for the Republic of Hawaii in 1893, which let the US establish a naval base at the harbor six years later. It didn't become the 50th state until 1959!

A surprising excuse for incompetence?

A surprising excuse for incompetence?

US intelligence is rumored to have expected the "surprise" attack, but either way, the naval base was woefully unequipped to defend against any kind of air-raid.

It's still an operational naval base

It's still an operational naval base

The Pearl Harbor attacks killed 2,403 Americans and Hawaiians, and sunk much of the US' naval might. Defiantly, it's still home to the bigger-than-ever US Pacific Fleet!

Our insider tips

What are the opening times?

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily from 7:00AM to 5:00PM, except for Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st. Expect it to be busy at any time! If travelling on a budget then arrive early to snap up one of the free walk-in tickets, otherwise it's recommended that you book in advance!

How to get there?

Pearl Harbor can be accessed by City Bus and taxi, but the former is slow (up to 2 hours) and the latter expensive. Many cheap, quick transportation services don't have clearance to the tourist site itself, so the best way to reach Pearl Harbor is undoubtedly with a certified tour company.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily, 7:00 AM-5:00 PM
    Holiday hours may vary
  • Is it expensive?
    Walk-in tickets are free, but best to guarantee access by purchasing an all-inclusive tour package.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help.
  • How to get there
    Best to go in a private van with a tour company.
  • Additional information
    Get out your fanny pack! Backpacks and other large bags must be checked at the storage area.

What people are saying about Pearl Harbor

Overall rating
4.4 / 5
based on 1,604 reviews

Everything about the visit was excellent. The people were nice and helpful, there was plenty to see, well managed, excellent opportunities to see more than just the USS Arizona. It was sobering but very grateful to honor these brave men and women who fight for our freedom. Nice to see the Bowfin and missiles, and other things on display, as well as all the informational legends. Kid friendly. I would add one improvement, and that is your website and reservation system.

Excellent audio tour as you walk around the grounds of the Memorial. However, the website needs to state that it does not include the movie nor the boat trip out to the Arizona. Those have to be bought separately from the audio tour and need to be secured ahead of time. We raced over from the airport on a flight delay and were told the Arizona tickets were sold out. It's unclear from the website what is included.

Activity itself was phenomenal and in formative, however the info and process on getting the boat tickets was cumbersome and we almost didn't get to go to the actual memorial. In the end after spending the whole day on the grounds we went but as individuals not as a family ...If you have young children that would not be an option

Loved it! And were able to walk right up. Only issue - the instructions said hours noon - 5:00 - but we found out too late the last shuttle went out across the water to the Memorial at about 3:30 - had we known we wouldn't have lingered in the museums so long and would have done those second instead of first.

It is hard to say that this is a great place to visit because of what happened, but I learned so much about what happened and the people that lost their lives And I so appreciate everything that all of these people did for our country. It is a very special place place to visit and I think everyone should!