As the site of the surprise attack that spurred America’s entrance into World War II, Pearl Harbor is one of the most significant places in U.S. history and today, one of the most visited.
Managed by the National Park Service, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial encompasses a visitor center, a theater, a bookstore, interpretive exhibits, Remembrance Circle and most notably, the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors the 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on the battleship during the attack. The memorial sits overtop the wreckage, where more than 900 bodies are still entombed in the ship’s hull.
While you can visit all of the above on your own and free of charge, you still have to reserve tickets and find your way around – which is why guided tours of Pearl Harbor are so popular. Not only do these tours provide you with a local’s perspective, but most include transportation from Waikiki and several include additional stops at other Pearl Harbor landmarks, such as the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum on Ford Island, both of which are not affiliated with the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
To make the most of your visit, consider one of these guided Pearl Harbor tours from Waikiki.
Karma Tour Hawaii – Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial
Price: Adults from $69; kids from $59 (ages 3 to 12)
Duration: 4 hours
While you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial free of charge, this tour company handles ticket reservations, provides transportation from Waikiki (three times daily) and allows you to visit with the guidance of an expert. Recent tourgoers appreciate how informative – albeit emotional – this tour is. This four-hour Pearl Harbor excursion is available via Karma Tour Hawaii, which also offers a combination tour to the USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri Memorial.
E Noa Tours – Salute to Pearl Harbor
Price: Adults from $46; kids from $36 (ages 3 to 11)
Duration: 5 hours
On this half-day tour from Waikiki, you’ll have a chance to see the entirety of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, including the USS Arizona Memorial. You’ll also get a brief history lesson as you roll through downtown Honolulu on the way back to your departure point. Recent tourgoers praise this tour, noting that it’s informative as well as kid-friendly. The Pearl Harbor Remembered Tour, a full-day (seven-hour) version of this tour that includes a visit to the Battleship Missouri Memorial, is also highly rated.
The Salute to Pearl Harbor tour departs Waikiki twice daily. Tickets include round-trip transportation between the memorial and several Waikiki pickup points.
Karma Tour Hawaii – Pearl Harbor Passport “A Complete Experience”
Price: Adults from $199 for adults; kids from $179 (ages 3 to 12)
Duration: 9 hours
This tour is ideal for travelers who want to explore the history of Pearl Harbor in depth. After a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, you’ll visit the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum (formerly the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park), the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. You’ll also drive by the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, which honors the fallen men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Recent travelers say they enjoyed the company and expertise of their guides, and appreciated that all tickets and transportation were coordinated by the tour company.
This tour departs Waikiki between 7 and 8 a.m. daily.
Personalized Hawaii Tours – Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial, Small Group Tour
Price: From $119
Duration: 4 hours
This small-group tour with up to 11 participants transports travelers from Waikiki to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and includes tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial. After your visit, you’ll drive through the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific before the ride back to Honolulu, which will be accompanied by a history lesson of local landmarks. Recent visitors say they appreciated the knowledgeable guides on this tour, noting they discovered tidbits of history they wouldn’t have otherwise known or remembered.
Tours depart Waikiki at 7:30 and 9 a.m. daily.
Daniels Hawaii – Tours & Activities – Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona & Hawaiian History Tour
Price: From $79.99
Duration: 5 to 6 hours
If you’re looking for a small-group tour of Pearl Harbor, this is one of the best. Limited to 15 participants (at least 8 years old), this tour includes tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial and plenty of time to explore the rest of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. On the way back to Waikiki, you’ll learn all about Honolulu’s historic landmarks, including the Aloha Tower, King Kamehameha Statue and the ‘Iolani Palace. Recent travelers say the guides are great storytellers and that the small-group setting enhances the experience.
Roberts Hawaii Tours & Activities – Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour
Price: Adults from $66; kids from $42 (4 to 11)
Duration: 5 hours
As you make your way to Pearl Harbor, you’ll learn a little bit about the history of Honolulu, passing local landmarks like ‘Iolani Palace, Honolulu City Hall and Kawaiahaʻo Church. Once you arrive at Pearl Harbor National Memorial, you’ll have a few hours to explore the exhibits as well as the USS Arizona Memorial. On the way back, you’ll pass the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and the Hawaii State Capitol. This tour consistently receives positive reviews, though some travelers note their tours were behind schedule. Roberts Hawaii Tours also offers this well-rated excursion that adds a visit to “Mighty Mo” (the Battleship Missouri Memorial) on Ford Island.
The half-day tour picks up from Waikiki twice daily, with an early- and late-morning departure.
Frequently Asked Questions
This depends on what type of tour you choose – self-led or guided – as well as which sites you visit on your tour. Most guided tours of Pearl Harbor take a half day, at minimum, factoring in transportation to and from Waikiki hotels. If you’re visiting from elsewhere on Oahu, such as Ko Olina (Aulani, A Disney Resort) and the North Shore (Turtle Bay), you’ll probably want to allot a full day of your vacation itinerary for Pearl Harbor.
Yes, and you can reserve tickets up to roughly 60 days in advance of your visit through Recreation.gov. These tickets are available to reserve starting at 3 p.m. HST daily, and no more than nine tickets per person can be reserved in advance. Any tickets reserved in advance will be charged a nonrefundable $1 convenience fee per ticket. The park service recommends travelers with reserved tickets arrive one hour before their scheduled visit.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial’s visitor center, its two galleries, bookstore, wayside exhibits and Remembrance Circle are all free to visit and do not require tickets.
USS Arizona Memorial: For its main attraction, the USS Arizona Memorial, you must obtain a free, timed ticket in advance through Recreation.gov; a $1 free applies. The National Park Service operates tours of the USS Arizona, which include a short film about the attack and rides to and from the memorial on a boat operated by the U.S. Navy. Tours depart the visitor center every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily and last approximately 45 minutes.
Travelers who want to enhance their experience at the USS Arizona Memorial have a few options:
- Visitor Center 60-Minute Narrated Multimedia Tour: The first is a two-hour, self-guided audio tour. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis narrates the recording and guest speakers include historians and survivors of the attack. Multiple patrons recommend opting for the audio tour and say it is worth the fee ($9.99 for adults ages 13 and older and $7.99 for kids ages 4 to 12).
- Deluxe Combination Narrated Tour & VR: Tech-savvy visitors may want to heed the advice of past travelers and upgrade to the deluxe tour of the facility, which includes the audio tour and access to the Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center. At the center, tourists can use virtual reality equipment to simulate walking aboard the USS Utah prior to the attack, viewing the attack itself and visiting the memorial. Tickets for this tour start at $19.99 for adults ages 13 and older, and $15.99 for kids ages 4 to 12. Both tours also charge a $1 convenience fee for advanced booking.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day).
For security reasons, all handbags that offer concealment (inclusive of diaper bags and camera bags) are not permitted on-site and must be stored, for $7 to $10 per bag, at a baggage facility near the visitor center. Alternatively, you can bring a clutch, wallet, clear handbag or clear plastic bag as long as it doesn’t exceed 1.5 by 2.25 by 5.5 inches.
Comfortable walking shoes and sunscreen are a must. While Pearl Harbor National Memorial does not impose an official dress code, clothing that shows excessive skin or displays profanity is discouraged.
Photography is permitted, but remember that camera bags are not. If using a smartphone camera, note that you will be asked to silence your device while visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, which preserves the solemnity of the space.
By car: You can drive to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and there is ample parking at the visitor center; parking costs $7 per day. If you drive, use highway exits to Arizona Memorial Place and not Pearl Harbor, as the latter remains an active military base. Drivers should also steer clear of the Ford Island Bridge, which is near the visitor center, since access to the island is restricted to government and military personnel.
By bus: TheBus, Oahu’s public transportation system, has several routes that stop just outside the visitor center, including No. 20 and No. 42. Several commercial tour companies incorporate visits to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial into their itineraries, and multiple private transportation providers, such as limousine services, are available as well.