On my list of the top 10 things to see and do on Oahu, I recommend a visit to the National Cemetery of the Pacific, which has been dubbed Punchbowl. At first thought, you might think it’s strange for me to suggest you visit a cemetery on your vacation, but this one is very special.
What makes a visit to Punchbowl worth the effort? For starters, it’s a unique setting inside a volcanic crater. The crater’s Hawaiian name is Puowaina which is most commonly translated as “Hill of Sacrifice”. Punchbowl is indeed a hill of sacrifice with hundreds graves representing service and sacrifice to our nation.
Though many of the graves represent sacrifices of war, Punchbowl echoes serenity. I know that I’ve sensed a calm peace from my visits to this military resting place.
Punchbowl is beautiful with its lush shades of manicured green in contrast with the white granite and stonework. Within the crater’s gates, there’s a lovely pathway (on the left after you enter the gates) that leads to memorials and an outstanding view of Honolulu.
What to know before you go:
- Punchbowl is located in Honolulu, about a 15-minute drive from the Waikiki resorts.
- There is no charge to visit Punchbowl.
- If you’d like to print directions or navigate to Punchbowl with a GPS navigation system, the address is 2177 Puowaina Drive in Honolulu.
- Per the official website, visitation hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.September 30 through March 1. Then from March 2 through September 29, hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.
- On Memorial Day, special ceremonies are presented and the graves are decorated with lei(s) that Oahu residents make and donate. For this holiday, the cemetery is open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.
- Many tour companies offer packaged tours that include the USS Arizona Memorial and Punchbowl. If I’m not mistaken, I believe that Roberts Hawaii is the only tour operator with permission to make a stop at Punchbowl. Other companies only drive through.
- Read more on the history plus interesting facts about Punchbowl here.
- See more photos from our visits to Punchbowl here.
- On a side note, Liliha Bakery is near Punchbowl. If you’re visiting the area and need a snack, check out this excellent bakery and diner. See my post: Liliha Bakery Coco Puffs: A Must Try on Your Oahu Vacation.