If you’re going to Hawaii for your next vacation, you should seriously consider taking a day to visit Pearl Harbor. Whether you’re traveling in a group, or by yourself, with angsty teenagers or experienced history buffs, Pearl Harbor is a place that will not fail to impact all those who visit deeply.
There are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind to get the most out of your trip. Even if you’re the type to wing it, Pearl Harbor is a trip that should be planned out. You can leave the spontaneity to your Hawaiian hiking trips and beach time.
1. Reserve your tickets in advance
If you have no other options, you can buy your Pearl Harbor tickets on the day. The problem is, you’ll have to stand in line and tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. And there are a limited number of tickets, so you might not even get in.
You can get your tickets up to two months in advance, and you can purchase up to 12 tickets each day. There is a $1.50 reservation fee if you do it in advance, but even the most frugal of travelers would say it’s well worth it not to have to stand in line for hours.
2. Book a tour
You may be tempted to skip over this section, but you might want to reconsider. That’s because even the most independent and anti-tourist travelers will benefit from one of the many Pearl Harbor Tours. This is the best way to ensure that you’ll get the most out of the day you’ve decided to dedicate to learning about your nation’s history.
What’s more, tours usually include transportation from some of the major hotels around, and you can even set up tours from neighboring islands!
3. Do some research
If you’re at all the free-spirited type, you may not be into doing too much research about a place before you go there. But sometimes, to feel the weight of a place, it’s essential to know some background information.
Before your trip to Pearl Harbor, you’ll want to do a bit of research on the following:
- USS Arizona: The Battleship USS Arizona was bombed on December 7th, 1941. The attack left 1,177 sailors and marines dead. Over 900 of those on board during the attack, remain on board to this day.
- Battleship Missouri: The Battleship Missouri was where Allied and Axis powers met to reach a peace agreement on September 2nd, 1945.
- Pacific Aviation Museum: The museum is located on Ford Island, located in the middle of Pearl Harbor. The United States Army purchased it in 1918 to use in defense of Honolulu.
- USS Bowfin Museum: The USS Bowfin was launched for the first time on December 7th, 1942, a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A little advance research will also help you figure out what you absolutely can’t miss, and what you might be willing to save for another trip if needed. With that said, it’s recommended you spend all day learning about and experiencing all that Pearl Harbor has to offer.
4. No bags allowed
There are absolutely no bags, backpacks, or purses allowed in Pearl Harbor. That includes camera bags, fanny packs, and diaper bags. You can bring wallets, cameras, cell phones and transparent water bottles with you. Just make sure you wear shorts with plenty of storage options. This may be the one day that your casual cargo shorts are acceptable, so make the most of it!
5. Memorial mindset
You may be on vacation, but you will be visiting a memorial site. A grave, in fact, for thousands of people. You should dress in appropriate memorial attire and be respectful throughout your visit. That means no bikinis, and preferably no board shorts, and maybe don’t take a goofy selfie next to a gravesite.
To reiterate, if you are going to Hawaii, you should make sure to visit Pearl harbor. It doesn’t matter whether you are a history buff or not; you’ll be fascinated and moved by this historical site. Just keep the above pointers in mind to get the most out of your visit.