December 7, 2012 will mark the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II.
Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial remain the most popular visitor attractions in Hawaii, with over 1,600,000 visitors annually. The addition of the Battleship Missouri Memorial in 1999, the opening of the Pacific Aviation Museum in 2006 and a new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in 2010 has further enhanced the experience at this historic area.
The best time of day to visit the Memorial remains early in the morning before the tour buses arrive.
- The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Interpretive programs, including a 23-minute documentary film about the attack and the boat trip to the USS Arizona Memorial, begin at 8:00 a.m. The last program each day begins at 3:00 p.m. The Memorial is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
- The Visitor Center operates as partnership between the National Park Service and the non-profit Pacific Historic Parks (formerly called the Arizona Memorial Museum Association.)
- Since February 16, 2012, visitors have been able to order tour tickets in advance. Read more details.
- Allow 75 minutes for the tour. This does not include time waiting for your tour to begin.
- Use that time to explore the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center with its amazing Exhibit Galleries: "Road to War" and "Attack." Within the galleries you'll find displays of personal memorabilia, historic photographs, artifacts of the battle, and several interactive exhibits. The new Visitor Center also has an expanded Bookstore, numerous Interpretive Wayside Exhibits; and a lovely waterfront promenade. Be sure pause at Remembrance Circle, an exhibit which pays tribute to the men, women, and children, both military and civilian, who were killed as a result of the attack on December 7, 1941.
- Following the events of September 11, 2001, new security regulations have been implemented. No purses, handbags, backpacks, camera bags, diaper bags, or other items that offer concealment are allowed in the Visitor Center or on the Memorial tour. Strollers with pockets and compartments must be empty before being allowed in the Visitor Center. Personal cameras are allowed.
- Baggage storage is available for a small fee near the entrance to the Visitor Center and visitors are encouraged to use it.
- Visitors are strongly encouraged either to leave prohibited items at their lodging or lock them in their car trunk before arriving at the parking lot. Theft of items from rental vehicles is common in Hawaii, however, bicycle security patrols the USS Arizona Memorial parking lot.
- In preparation for your visit, I invite you to enjoy our Gallery of 24 Photos of the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
A visit to the USS Arizona Memorial is a solemn and sobering experience, even for those who were not alive when the attack occurred. You are literally standing over a grave site where 1177 men lost their lives.
To help you plan your visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, I recommend the following pages which are located on the excellent website Pearl Harbor Remembered. The site was created and is maintained by Donald Schaaf "to honor the survivors of Pearl Harbor, their families and friends and to those who died during the attack on that Sunday morning in December, 1941."
The best tourist is an informed tourist who respects the past and its role in establishing the present and preserving our future.
For additional information on Pearl Harbor and the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, check out our feature Before You Visit Pearl Harbor.