Things to Know Before Visiting Pearl Harbor

By: Alison

No visit to Honolulu is complete without visiting Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. Navy base, killing more than 1,500 crewmen and pulling the U.S. into World War II. Today, in addition to still being an active military base, Pearl Harbor stands as a memorial to those lives lost and the other brave crewmen who risked their lives to defend the harbor and their country.

If you’re planning on visiting Pearl Harbor, there are a few things you need to know before arriving. Check out our informative guide and start planning your visit.

Aerial View of Pearl Harbor

Visiting Pearl Harbor in a day

Every visit to Honolulu is different. You want to spend some time sightseeing, but you still want to get in plenty of beach time.

Pearl Harbor is expansive, and there’s so much to see and do. If you can, try to set aside a whole day when visiting Pearl Harbor. This will give you plenty of time to visit each memorial and pay your respects to the men who lost their lives that historic day. You won’t feel rushed, and you’ll be able to spend a little more time at the memorials and sights that interest you the most.

Spending a whole day at Pearl Harbor also gives you the opportunity to check out sights you didn’t expect to find. You may have come to see the USS Arizona Memorial, but you might find the Pacific Aviation Museum fascinating. If you set aside the whole day to visit, you’ll have extra time to spare if you end up spending more time at one attraction.

Group Staring at Arizona Memorial Wall

Book a tour in advance

While some travelers like to tour historic sights and museums on their own, tours to Pearl Harbor are highly recommended. Led by expert tour guides, these tours ensure that all participants get to see the sights they want and learn more about Pearl Harbor, the attack, and the harbor’s subsequent role in the war.

When you’re on a tour, you don’t have to worry about finding certain memorials or navigating around the harbor. Your guide will get you around, all while providing helpful information and other historical facts that you might not hear elsewhere. You’ll find that your visit is less stressful and far more easygoing.

To guarantee your spot, it’s important to book in advance. There are plenty of tour options available depending on your interests, location, and time constraints, so check them out before booking your tour. Spaces fill up fast so don’t wait to land on Oahu before reserving your tour.

Comfortable Shoes

Helpful travel tips

Not sure what to expect when visiting Pearl Harbor? Here are a few pointers to help you prepare for your visit.

  • Read up in advance: You probably already know a bit about Pearl Harbor and the attack, but you’ll get more out of your visit if you read about the attack before your arrival. Check out a few books or read some articles online to get a sense of how things played out on the “Date that will live in infamy.”
  • Wear comfy shoes: Socks and sneakers are preferred. You will be walking between monuments, museums and battleships. Don’t let a few blisters ruin your trip.
  • Pack lightly: As the harbor is still a military base, some parts of it do not allow visitors to carry bags. While there are storage lockers available, it’s best to pack lightly. Your camera and wallet are all you really need for the park so save yourself a little trouble and leave the non-essentials in your hotel room.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to see Pearl Harbor and spend an enjoyable day taking in the sights and remembering those who fought so bravely that day.

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