See World War II history at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor

by Kris Bordessa on April 8, 2010

Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor, the site of the infamous attack that drew the United States into World War II, is now home to museums and memorials honoring war veterans, lost soldiers, and civilians. Visitors to Hawaii should try to fit at least a couple of these moving sites into their vacation schedule.

USS Arizona Memorial: The final resting place for the 1,777 men who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona Memorial draws 1.5 million visitors each year. In spite of the crowds, this historic site is a must-see for most Oahu visitors. Your best bet is to arrive early – the visitor center opens at 7 a.m., but you’ll likely encounter a line even at this early-bird hour. Upon entry, you’ll receive a timed ticket for the shuttle boat that will take you across Pearl Harbor to the USS Arizona Memorial. While you await your tour, you can watch a 23-minute film about the attack on Pearl Harbor, tour the museum and exhibits, or visit the bookstore. Parents of small children will want to leave the stroller behind – it’s just too difficult to maneuver through the bustling visitor center – and note that NO bags or backpacks are allowed into the center. There is no charge for admission to or tours of the USS Arizona Memorial.

Pacific Aviation Museum: Situated on historic Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor, the museum is housed in World War II-era hangars – including Hangar 37, a 42,000 square foot facility that survived the Pearl Harbor attack. Visitors will see a variety of vintage aircraft, a short movie, and exhibits. Transportation to Ford Island is via shuttle buses from the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center. Admission is $15/adults and $8/children (ages four to 12). Before you go, print out this coupon for a free combat simulator flight.

USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park: Located adjacent to the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center, this museum offers self-guided tours with digital audio players. In addition to touring the museum, visitors can step aboard the USS Bowfin submarine and imagine life in this tight space with 80 men. Admission $10/adults and $4/children (also ages four to 12.

Battleship Missouri: Stand on the deck of the Mighty Mo, a battleship launched in 1944 in the midst of World War II and now on permanent display in Pearl Harbor. There are several tours available and included with the price of admission. Shuttle transportation is available at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park. Admission $20/adults and $10/children (four to 12).

While there aren’t many lodging options within walking distance of the Pearl Harbor area, hotels like the Ilikai, Doubletree Alana, and the Ala Moana Hotel are less than ten miles away.

- Kris Bordessa of Honolulu On The Cheap and Big Island On The Cheap

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