Top Four Things to See at Pearl Harbor

09 September 2014

I've mentioned before that I'm really bad at modern history. So going to Pearl Harbor I was really in the dark as it seems the Pacific part of WWII is often forgotten about and glazed over in history lessons and the attention is diverted to the atrocities occurring in Europe.

I know I'm not the only one who has this issue as my job often entails booking tours for Pearl Harbor. Here is the conversation I have at least once a day:
Guest: Hi, I'd like to buy tickets to visit Pearl Harbor.
Me: Actually, there are no tickets for Pearl Harbor.
Guest: Oh, I read that it's really hard to get tickets for Pearl Harbor which is why I'm calling in advance.
Me: The Arizona Memorial requires tickets but Pearl Harbor does not.
Guest: Oh, is that a different place?

No, they are not different places. Pearl Harbor is one naval base with several points of interest within it. On December 7th, 1941 this military base was attacked by Japan without provocation, causing the USA to join WWII. Visitors from around the world now come here to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers. Here are the top four sites at the base:

The Arizona Memorial

Several ships were sunk when Pearl Harbor was attacked but the USS Arizona was one of the most poignant for the violent explosion and the amount of people lost (over 1,000). For most of the men, this is still their final resting place. A somber, white memorial is now on the water above the ship and can be visited by a short ferry ride. Oil still leaks from the ship and is known as the black tears. Some people say they can see the faces of loved ones in the oil.

The USS Bowfin Submarine

Nicknamed the Avenger, this submarine was one of the most active vessels during WWII and led to several victories. Stepping inside of the submarine you can only imagine what it would be like to live in such a cramped space. Quarters were small and some bunk beds were even situated right next to torpedoes.

The USS Missouri Battleship

This ship actually didn't see any battles during WWII but became famous for being the ship on which the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II. This ship is basically a huge, floating city. Inside there are classrooms, law offices, a jail, banks, libraries, and so many dining halls. Today it is used as a museum and holds a lot of amazing propaganda material from WWII.

The Pacific Aviation Museum

This original hanger still stands to this day where you can see bullet holes from the attack on Pearl Harbor. Inside you will find planes not only from WWII but all wars fought in the Pacific theater. I also loved the PanAm exhibit with lots of vintage Hawaii posters.

Travel Tips

-While entrance into the park is free, tickets to board the Arizona Memorial are often sold out months in advance. A certain amount of tickets are held for walk-ups but they are given out on a first come first served basis. If you are making plans to visit the memorial last minute, it's better to book a tour company who will arrange the tickets for you.

-Park security are allowed to stop visitors at any time and ask for proof of identification so bring a government issued id on you when you visit!

-Bags are not allowed at the visitor center. If you do bring one you will have to leave at the front entrance and pay 3 dollars.

-Complete a historical tour such as this one by visiting the Punchbowl Cemetery. Just outside of downtown, this volcanic crater is now the resting place for soldiers who served in wars across the Pacific Ocean.

Visit these historical sites on Discover Hawaii Tours Complete Pearl Harbor Experience Tour.

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