For most people, Hawaii is known as the paradise travel destination, replete with lays, luaus, snorkeling opportunities, and luxurious beaches and resorts. But Hawaii, and more specifically, Oahu, is also home to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. Many who have visited the memorial will tell you: you don’t need to be a history buff to be deeply moved by the memorial.
So, if you’re traveling to Hawaii for your next vacation, it’s very much worth it to add Honolulu on Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. But before you go, here are some travel tips for your USS Arizona visit.
A brief history
Just in case you slept through the Pearl Harbor lesson in your high school American History class, here’s a quick refresher about the history of the USS Arizona:
The USS Arizona was one of eight navy battleships attacked and damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Four of those battleships were sunk, including the USS Arizona.
The USS Arizona remains underwater today, and in 1962, the memorial was built in honor of the 1,177 people who gave their lives aboard the ship.
Buy your ticket in advance
A visit to the USS Arizona Memorial is technically free, but a ticket is required, and there is a $1.50 reservation fee for booking your ticket in advance. That said, it’s a small price to pay, so you don’t have to stand in line. Also, there are only 1,300 tickets given out each day, and it’s first-come, first-served.
You can buy your ticket up to two months before your trip, and you can purchase 12 tickets per day online. So, if your group is larger than 12 people, you’ll have to spread your purchasing out over at least two days.
Book a tour
Even the most tour-opposed, independent travelers will benefit from a USS Arizona Memorial Tour. Once you get to the USS Arizona Memorial, you’ll realize that you want to spend the whole day there and learn as much as you can. And even if you don’t think so now, you’ll be grateful that your tour includes visits to some of the other fascinating, yet sobering memorials and museums like:
- USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor
This may seem too obvious, but don’t forget to wear your sunscreen! You may not think of it since you are technically not lying in the sun on a beach towel, but your shoulders ears, face and the back of your neck will thank you. Even if it’s cloudy in the morning, the weather in Hawaii is known for its ability to change quite quickly.
Since Pearl Harbor is a military base, you’ll have to go through strict security to get in. Bags, backpacks, and purses are not allowed. No exceptions.
You may be wondering if you can bring a small purse?
Surely a diaper bag?
What about a fanny pack?
You can, however, bring the following:
- Cell phone
- Water bottle (transparent)
You can store your bag, with a maximum of 50 pounds, before going in for $3.
The good news? You’ll finally be able to prove all the nay-sayers wrong about your cargo shorts! Because you knew all along—they’re stylish and practical.
When visiting Pearl Harbor, you must remember that it is, after all, a grave for thousands of people. You should dress as you would when going to a family member’s memorial service. That means no bikinis, and although board shorts probably won’t get you thrown out, it’s best not to.
A quick tip about restrooms: There are none on the memorial, so make sure you take care of business at the visitor center.
Congratulations on your upcoming trip to Hawaii! Even more kudos if you’re planning a break from luxury beaches and mai tai time to visit one of North America’s most famous landmarks. A visit to the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor, in general, is a visit that will profoundly affect the most ardent of history buffs to the most resistant and apathetic of teenagers. The Memorial is one of the most moving places I have ever seen.
Just make sure you keep the above tips in mind before you go, and most importantly: be respectful of your fellow visitors and make sure to learn a lot!