The Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau was established to help visitors and the community get the most out of Pearl Harbor. Our activities are based on the value to the visitor, member, and community, and to the overall economic impact on Pearl Harbor.
It is our mission to promote Pearl Harbor as a premier travel destination. This mission is achieved by strategic marketing and building partnerships with various Pearl Harbor entities, tour companies, and other local businesses.
We are guided by our goal to create a positive visitor experience while preserving Pearl Harbor’s rich historical significance. VisitPearlHarbor.org has a history section with a rich collection of information about the history of Pearl Harbor.
Heroes of Pearl Harbor are those who were on Oahu when the December 7th, 1941 attack occurred. This section includes those who gave their lives for us on the day of infamy as well as the survivors who continued on to help make America what it is today. Their stories are important to our theme “Remember Pearl Harbor.”
A Day That Changed the World
It was a call of “Tora! Tora! Tora!” that changed history. Just before 8 AM on December 7, 1941, a Japanese fighter pilot named Mitsuo Fuchida ordered those words—indicating that his aerial striking force had arrived to its destination undetected—to be transmitted over the radio. Tora, meaning tiger, was also radio code for “lightning attack,” and as the Japanese warplanes flew over Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the world was changed forever.
One of the defining moments in US and world history, the attack on Pearl Harbor came as a complete surprise to those in the water and on the ground. Fighter planes, bombers, and torpedoes were launched to wipe out American battleships and cause devastation to thousands of families. The aim of the attack was to stop the US Pacific Fleet from getting in the way of Japan’s plans in other areas of Southeast Asia; and it came as a complete shock to everyone at Pearl Harbor—and around the world—who thought their little island paradise was keeping them well away from any major fighting.
Of the eight battleships that were present in Pearl Harbor, four of them sank to the ocean floor; there were more than 180 aircraft destroyed on the ground, and over two thousand sailors, soldiers, and Marines perished.
Japan set out to make a strong statement, and shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack they also launched surprise attacks on Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaya, Guam, the Philippines, and Wake Island. The United States declared war on Japan the next day, following a speech to Congress in which President Roosevelt famously labeled December 7 as “a date which will live in infamy.”
When you’re planning your visit to Pearl Harbor, understanding the history of the site will ensure you get the most out of your time there. There are a number of memorial sites and museums to visit and pay your respects, and an abundance of history to learn.
Book Early to Reserve Your Pearl Harbor Tickets
Whether you’re looking for Pearl Harbor tickets or you’re interested in one of the many tours, be sure to make your reservations well ahead of your arrival. Bookings for Pearl Harbor sell out fast, so leave yourself plenty of time to avoid disappointment.
Pearl Harbor is the most–visited site on Oahu, and you’ll be busy with plenty of historic sites to explore, along with a range of memorials and exhibits.
Getting Pearl Harbor tickets and exploring on your own is fairly easy; you can rent a car, use the city bus, or take a taxi to Pearl Harbor from just about anywhere on Oahu. There is parking available, but it’s limited, so if you’re planning on driving, make sure you arrive early!
If you’re planning on booking an authorized tour, you’ll find plenty of options available, including some that take you on a journey that reaches well beyond the confines of Pearl Harbor. Tours include an experienced guide who can provide you with local knowledge about Pearl Harbor and other historic sites. Tours to Pearl Harbor generally include all transportation, and most also provide admission to the other Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. One of the biggest benefits of booking an authorized tour of Pearl Harbor is that you’ll have pre-arranged tickets for the timed Arizona Memorial program.
Things to See at Pearl Harbor
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 7:00 AM daily, and closes at 5:00 PM. It is closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. If you’re not part of an authorized Pearl Harbor Tours, you can buy tickets to the memorials and museums from the Visitor Center ticket booth.
USS Arizona Memorial
On December 7, 1941, 1,177 crewmen were killed when the USS Arizona (BB-39) was hit by Japanese bombs and exploded. The memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives that day and is located directly above the remains of the sunken ship that is the final resting place for more than 1,000 men. The USS Arizona Memorial was built in 1962, and is Hawaii’s most–visited tourism site, with more than two million people coming to pay their respects every year.
After seeing the exhibits and museums of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, you enter the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater, where you’ll watch a 23-minute video about the attack. After that, board a US Navy shuttle boat that takes you to the memorial. Here, you can quietly pay your respects and reflect on the lives that were lost on the fateful day of the attack.
Be sure to book tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial in advance so you don’t miss out. There are only 4,500 tickets allocated per day, and these generally don’t last long.
Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
Experience the life of a submariner by visiting the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Dedicated to the USS Bowfin (SS-287), the museum and surrounding park provide insight into the history of the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.” The Bowfin was launched exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and completed a total of nine patrols before retiring. The museum is filled with over 4,000 submarine artifacts, including everything from recruitment posters to ship’s flags.
If you have children under 4 years old, please note that you can’t take them into the submarine itself, but they are welcome in the museum and park.
The Battleship Missouri (BB-63) was the last battleship that was ever commissioned by the United States and was affectionately known the “Mighty Mo.” She may be best known as the site where World War II ended, with the surrender of Japan.
The Missouri was decommissioned in 1992, and in 1998, she was brought to Pearl Harbor and transformed into a museum ship, allowing visitors to step into naval history as they board and explore the 900-foot-long battleship. You can explore on your own, or take a guided tour.
USS Oklahoma Memorial
The USS Oklahoma Memorial is a tribute to the 429 men who lost their lives while working aboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37). The Oklahoma was sunk by a number of Japanese torpedoes. Many of those on the ship jumped into the burning water, while others escaped through holes that were drilled by rescuers. Two years after the attack, the ship was raised, but she was too damaged to return to duty. The Oklahoma was decommissioned in 1944. In 2007, a memorial to the men lost in the attack was erected. Located near the entrance to the Battleship Missouri, the site is a beautiful, serene place to pay your respects to the brave men who served on the mighty battleship.
Pacific Aviation Museum
Located on Ford Island, the Pacific Aviation Museum is the newest attraction at Pearl Harbor and is definitely worth a visit. The museum houses a huge collection of aircraft from throughout the history of military aviation in Hangars 37 and 79, both of which survived the Japanese attack in 1941. Visiting the museum, you can watch a historical video, explore the various exhibits, and even take flight yourself in one of the adrenaline-pumping flight simulators. Your ticket includes an audio tour, which is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese.
Tips for Your Visit to Pearl Harbor
Get Your Pearl Harbor Tickets Online
When you’re planning your visit, keep in mind that Pearl Harbor tickets can sell out well in advance, so book early to ensure you don’t miss out. Like most tourist destinations, Pearl Harbor has peak seasons—summertime and around the holidays—so if you want to avoid disappointment, consider planning your visit during off-peak times. If you’re visiting during a busy period, it’s even more important to book ahead.
Tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial program are free, but there’s a limited number available each day. If you decide to get Pearl Harbor tickets and explore on your own, plan to arrive early (before 7 AM) and line up for tickets at the Visitor Center ticketing booth. Remember, tickets are first come, first served, and all members of your party must be present. Booking an authorized tour of Pearl Harbor guarantees you access, which is one of the reasons why we recommend this option.
If you also want to visit the Battleship Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum, and the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, booking a tour is the most hassle-free way to go.
Arizona Memorial Timed Program
The Arizona Memorial program lasts 75 minutes (1 hour 15 minutes). The movie is 23 minutes and the remaining time is taken up by the round–trip boat ride and time on the Arizona Memorial.
Authorized Pearl Harbor Tours provide additional free time to visit the museums and exhibits. See specific tour descriptions for more details.
Eating & Drinking
You can purchase snacks and drinks at the Visitor Center concession stands and next to the Bowfin Submarine Museum. On Ford Island, there is another concession stand near the entrance to the Battleship Missouri, and there’s a sit-down restaurant inside the Pacific Aviation Museum.
Please note that while touring the USS Arizona Memorial, only bottled water is allowed.
Check the weather before you head to Pearl Harbor and dress accordingly. Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat, and since the weather in Hawaii can be a bit unpredictable, you might want to consider taking a light rain jacket as well. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll spend a lot of your day walking.
Please dress respectfully. No swim wear, revealing clothing, or offensive t-shirts. Remember, this is the place where over 2,000 Americans gave their lives, so it’s important to show respect. If you dress inappropriately, park rangers have the authority to refuse entry.
Sandals are allowed, although we recommend more sturdy shoes due to the amount of walking involved.
Pearl Harbor is fully accessible for people in wheelchairs. There are ramps and lifts at the Visitor Center, on board the Arizona Memorial, and in the Navy shuttle boats.
For the hearing impaired, the documentary film has full captions. For those with vision impairments, signs are available in Braille.
For visitors whose first language isn’t English, there are brochures and audio tours available in multiple languages. Visit the information desk for details.
No bags of any kind are allowed into Pearl Harbor. Please see Pearl Harbor Security for more information.
If you’re looking for a great souvenir to take home, you’ll find a gift shop at the Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, along with a book store near the entrance to the Visitor Center.