Monday, March 4, 2013

Visiting Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941 the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. They wanted to weaken the Pacific Fleet to prevent a possible military intervention in their actions. Since this day, the United States joined the World War II. On December 8, the United States declared war on the Empire of Japan.
 Photograph taken from a Japanese aircraft at the beginning of the attack.

In the attack, deployed in two parts involving fighter jets, bombers and torpedo boats, eight American battleships were damaged, four of them came to sink. 2,402 Americans died and 1,282 were injured.
The USS Arizona burning.


The bay of Pearl Harbor is on the island of Oahu (Hawaii) , about 15 km west of the capital Honolulu. Honolulu Airport is accessible from almost anywhere in the world, but you will only get cheap flights from America. Most tourists travel first to the West Coast or Latin America and from there they take a flight to the islands.

Once in Honolulu, you can easily find a rental car to explore the island or you can get Pearl Harbor by public transport. Many hotels have shuttle buses that take their hosts to the memorial complex, as it is one of the major tourist attractions of the island. It is advisable to ask for these services.

 If you go by car there are many signs to get the place. If you stay in Waikiki Beach (one of the most turistic areas because of its paradise coast) you can reach the entrance to the Visitor Centre by bus #20 or bus #42 or by car taking the H1 highway  leaving the airport behind and taking the 15A exit which indicates "Arizona Memorial / Stadium" (not the previous one that indicates "Pearl Harbor naval base"). You will only have to follow the signs for "Pearl Harbor Historic Sites". For a Honolulu bus routes check

Once in the Visitor Centre there are shuttles that take you to the different attractions.


Location here .
Opening hours: 7:00 to 17:00 (the program that include a 23-minute documentary video about the attack and a boat ride to the USS Arizona runs from 8:00 to 15:00).
Closed Thanksgiving, December 25 and January 1 .
The duration of the visit to Arizona with the documentary is estimated 1h15min.
Free entrance and parking.
It's not allowed to enter any part of the historic site with luggage, bags (even the camera's bag), backpack or purse. There are lockers at the entrance where you can leave them for $ 3.

 Photo: Christ Vlahos

Your visit will have to start at this point that is where you will obtain access and passes to all the memorials and museums. Your ticket  will give you access to the 23-minute documentary video about the attack and the ship that takes you to the USS Arizona. In high season, especially in the summer months, there are long queues and be aware that the tickets are limited. Therefore, it is better to get your ticket online from this page . Although the admission is free you will be charged $ 1.50 for the cost of the service but it's worth it.

Here you can find visit several exhibitions as "Path to War" and "Attack". Also we can visit the memorials to victims.

Opening hours of the ships to the memorial: 8:00 to 15:00
Free admission at the Visitor Center.
Audioguides: $ 7
This battleship was badly damaged during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Such damage was irreparable. The memorial stands on the location where the USS Arizona is sunk. From here you can see the remains of the ship. Even one of its chimneys rises to the surface. Inside the memorial you can find a wall with the names of all the victims who fell there.

 Panel with names.
Aerial view where you can see the battleship sunk beneath the memorial.

Location here
Official website:
Opening hours: 7:00 to 17:00 (last admission to the submarine at 16:30)
Admission: $ 10
Closed Thanksgiving, December 25 and January 1.

USS Bowfin was one of the most emblematic submarines of the Pacific. It was launched on December 7, 1942 (just a year after the attack). It was born as the "Pearl Harbor Avenger".

Photo: Cliff
Cabin inside the submarine (Photo: Stan Shebs )

The ticket gives access to both the museum and the submarine. Outside the museum you can find a memorial to the 52 fallen American submarines during World War II, the Regulus missile that exceptionally was used to send mails to Florida, and the modified Japanese torpedo Kaiten.

Regulus (Photo:  J JMesserly )
Kaiten (Photo: J JMesserly )

In the indoor exhibitions we can find one dedicated to the battle flags of the submarines that fought in the Pacific, another one about the Poseidon missile and another one with numerous other artifacts from the USS Bowfin.


Location here.  
Official website:  
Opening hours:  From September to May: 8:00 to 16:00 June to August: 8:00-17:00  
Closed on Thanksgiving, Dec. 25 and January 1.  
Admission with an optional guided tour: $ 22
You can buy tickets at the Visitor Center office or buy them online without queues here .

The USS Missouri is in the Ford Island . There are shuttle buses every 15 minutes that will take you there through a bridge. You can take the behind the USS Bowfin museum. This battleship was launched in January 1944. It was the last battleship built by the United States. On September 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay, aboard the USS Missouri , the representatives of the Allied and Axis Powers met in solemn ceremony to reach an agreement to restore peace. You can visit it on a tour on your own or choose one of the proposed tours (you can check the web to see the options).

Photo: Stan Shebs


Location here.  
Official website:
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Closed on Thanksgiving, December 25 and January 1.  
Admission: from $ 15 ($ 5 more to visit the hangar 79 and 10 $ extra for the air combat simulators)
Tickets can be purchased at the Visitor Center, in the museum's own box office, or online through the web.

Located in Ford Island . There are shuttle buses every 15 minutes that take you there through a bridge. You can take them behind the USS Bowfin museum. The visit of the museum begins with a 12 minutes screening of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The collection includes a large number of aircrafts, some of them survived the attack. You can see the collection in the web . It also has some flight simulators that allow us to recreate a dogfight.


Location here .  
Official website:

Located in Ford Island . There are shuttle buses every 15 minutes that take you there through a bridge. You can take them behind the USS Bowfin museum. USS Oklahoma received three torpedoes during the Japanese attack. Finally it sank. In addition, the crew were shot while fleeing. In 1942 the work of refloating began and it was repaired. It took months to get it.

The burning USS Oklahoma during the attack.

The memorial commemorates the 429 crew members who lost their lives in the battleship.


Location here .
Official Website:

Located in  Ford Island . There are shuttle buses every 15 minutes that take you there through a bridge. You can take them behind the USS Bowfin museum. The USS Utah was one of the battleships sunk at Pearl Harbor. Like the USS Arizona, his remains lie under the memorial and they can be observed.


Location here .  
Official website:  
Opening hours:
From September 30 to March 1: 8:00 to 17:30
From March 2 to September 29: 8:00 to 18:30
Free admission.

It's located in downtown Honolulu. The bus #15 stops right next to the entrance. You can check its route and schedules here: . It's also known as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific . It is a memorial cemetery to those who served in the Armed Forces of the United States, including the victims of Pearl Harbor. In the ground there are buried veterans of WWI, WWII, Vietnam or Korea. It has lots of visitors and it's considered one of the main attractions of Honolulu.



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