USS Arizona Memorial - Photo by John Fischer, licensed to About.com
Last year over 1.6 million people visited the USS Arizona Memorial, making it the most popular visitor attraction in Hawaii.
Add to that number the hundreds of thousands of folks who visit the other Pearl Harbor Historic sites: the USS Bowfin Submarine Park and Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the new Pacific Aviation Museum.
People often ask me if they can see all that there is to see at Pearl Harbor in one day. The answer is yes - but you need a plan. The plan I'd recommend is as follows:
- Arrive at the USS Arizona Memorial by 7:00 a.m. The visitor center opens at 7:30 a.m., but lots of tour buses arrive right before opening, so get there early to get a good place in line.
- Allow at least 2 hours for your visit. Once you obtain you timed ticket, visit the USS Arizona museum or gift shop. When your group is called, you'll see a 23 minute film and then proceed to the Memorial by a U.S. Navy shuttle.
- Once you've completed your visit to the USS Arizona Memorial make your way over to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. It's just a short 5-minute walk. Purchase a ticket that will get you admission to all three of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. I also recommend you buy a ticket that includes a guided tour of the Battleship Missouri.
- You'll board a bus which will take you over to Ford Island. (It's on the Navy Base, so you can't drive your car.) Your first stop will be the Battleship Missouri Memorial where you should again allow yourself at least 2 hours. The tours of the Battleship are well worth the money.
- It's back on the bus for a short ride to the Pacific Aviation Museum. You may have to wait 15-20 minutes for a bus each time, so you'll need to build this time into your schedule.
- Again, plan on spending 2 hours at the Pacific Aviation Museum. They have a nice restaurant on site, so this is the place to have lunch.
- Following your visit it's time to get back on the bus for a return to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. Here you should purchase the self-guided audio tour of the USS Bowfin. After you've explored the submarine, take some time to visit the museum and learn more about the history of submarines.
If everything goes according to plan, you'll be ready to head back to Waikiki by late afternoon. It's a busy day, but well worth your time. When you leave you'll have much more appreciation for the men who served in the Pacific during World War II and the boats and ships that they served on.
I've put together a short feature Before You Visit Pearl Harbor. You'll be able to find out about the history of Pearl Harbor, about visiting Pearl Harbor and also view photos of the various historic sites. I hope it helps you plan your visit.