Pearl Harbour can be found on the island of Oahu, and is a US naval base near Honolulu in the North Pacific. Famously known for the surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air service, on the morning of December 7th 1941. The attack led to the entry of America in World War II on December 8th. The devastating attack lasting just over 2 hours left over 2,000 dead with hundreds more wounded. All eight US Navy battleships were damaged, and four were sunk.
Pearl Harbour today is comprised of five historical sites, which are accessed from the base and include the USS Arizona memorial, a battleship that sunk with the loss of 1,177 crewmen, of which 229 bodies were recovered. The ship was never raised due to the catastrophic damage and all sailors unrecovered were left onboard as it was too difficult to remove them in a respectful manner.
Today the USS Arizona memorial is a place of quiet reflection that can be visited from Pearl Harbour visitor centre by boat. This memorial sits over the sunken battleship where she fell and was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis.
The other sites at Pearl Harbor include the USS Bowfin Submarine & Museum park, Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Aviation Authority, and museum and visitor centre.
USS Arizona Memorial, sitting above the sunken warship @shutterstock
Transport, bags, dress code at Pearl Harbour
Many people pre book a tour and arrive by coach. This can be a long day as often the coaches are picking up from multiple locations, I would check the transfer times before booking. However, the coach drivers can be very informative and offer useful insights into the day ahead.
We arrived at the base by using an Uber taxi which was very easy to book and can be accessed via the telephone app, there are also regular buses from Waikiki. #20 OR #42. Buses run every 10-20mins and there are also buses to Honolulu- Ala Moana.
2. Dress code – The base is part of an active military base and a War Memorial grave site. It is inappropriate to wear bikini and bathing suits or clothes showing excess amount of skin. There are however, plenty of people in shorts and tee shirts.
3 Pets – There are no pets allowed at all except service animals.
4. Strollers & small children – Children are welcome at Pearl Harbour, and there were plenty when I visited in October 2017. However there are a few points to be aware of.
No bags whatsoever are allowed in Pearl Harbour visitor centre. You can hire a locker for $4 at the entrance and carry a nappy or diaper or small pouch with wipes in your hand. Once inside the base, go directly to the gift shop and buy a souvenir bag. Pop the nappy in here, then proceed directly to the small cafe next door and buy water and sandwiches or snacks as the selection dwindles as the day goes on and you cannot bring food into the park.
Make sure you sunblock your child before entering and have a sun hat even on cloudy days.
Strollers are allowed around the park but are not allowed to the theatre to watch the film or allowed on the ferry to the Memorial, you will have to carry any children on this part of the journey.
Medicine bags: medicine has to be carried in a small clear bag.
Tickets: If on an organised tour be aware of what you are paying for.
The first 1300 people in the park every day get free access to the Memorial, which includes a 23 min film and a boat trip out to the memorial above the sunken USS Arizona. These tickets can be reserved online in advance at http://www.recreation.gov. If you are not sure what day you are visiting then just get up early and go. The park opens at 7 days a week from 7-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec 25th and Jan 1st. Free tickets to the memorial and film are on a first come basis.
Not included in the memorial ticket.
You have to pay extra for trip across the bridge to Battleship Missouri. This involves a 10 min shuttle ride. Buses are every 10 mins and once across you can only return by shuttle bus. It get very busy in the afternoon but there is a shaded area to sit and wait.
Tickets for the Bowfin Submarine and Pacific Aviation Museum are all at extra cost.
Free access ticket : if you have entered the park and do not wish to pay for other museums/sights then buy the ear phones, they give a brilliant insight to what happened that day as you stroll along the harbour wall.
If you are not on a pre booked guided tour for the Battleship Missouri then buy the ear phones and pay to tour the battle ship.
Conclusions: we travelled with three in our group, including my 15 year old. It was one of the highlights of our trip to Hawaii. Historically, it is an amazing place for children and adults. It is also a place of quiet peace and reflection and should be regarded as such.
Absolutely no one talks during the 23 min film about the ‘attack day’ and if you have small children I would consider doing the film in turns with a partner. Many people are upset watching the film, due to missing loved ones or memories of the second world war.
We paid extra to visit the Mighty Mo warship, which my daughter loved, its a pretty impressive ship. We arrived at 9am and were tired by 1.30pm, emotionally and physically. It was getting hot and my daughter was ready to leave. Families should discuss in advance what you would like to visit as there is a lot of walking and a lot to see. And finally…
Up until April 2017, survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack, are still being interred and reunited with their ship and fellow crewmen after their death. This is a very solemn place and should be respected at all times.
Quote from anonymous poem on the Missouri.
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Thanks again and if visiting Hawaii, don’t forget to go to Hanauma Bay for turtles and tropical fish,