Updated advice for visiting the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu
Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is an exceptionally moving experience. We’ve visited Pearl Harbor multiple times and each time it conjures up so many emotions.
I highly recommend a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial on your Oahu vacation and it is included in our Oahu vacation planner. Even if you are vacationing on one of the other islands, you can take a day trip to visit Pearl Harbor either by organized tour or independently.
Here’s what you should know and expect when you visit the USS Arizona Memorial:
1. The USS Arizona Memorial is located in the Pearl Harbor area of Honolulu. The physical address is 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, Hawaii. By car, it’s roughly a 30-minute drive from Waikiki. Of course you can drive there in your rental car, but you also have an option of public transportation (TheBus) or using the services of an organized tour operator. See this link for directions and public transportation options.
2. It’s inexpensive to visit this national park. The museum itself is free to visit and it’s also free to take in the views of the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine from the shoreline. Parking cost $7 parking per car effect April 15, 2023.
3. A lot has changed since we originally published this article in 2009. If you want to take the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, effective March 2021, you must make a reservation for a specific time slot. The cost to reserve a ticket is $1 per person reservation fee. See this link to reserve a ticket. The ticketing process is very much subject to change. Check the park’s website as well as this park page for their current policies. As of our most recent update in May 2021 the reservation ticket program releases tickets as follows:
- The first allotment of reservation tickets are released up to eight weeks in advance effective May 3, 2021.
- A second allotment of reservation tickets are release one day in advance.
- If you are not able to secure a ticket/reservation couple of alternatives:
- Inquire about a stand-by ticket when you arrive onsite.
- Consider taking a guided tour organized by a tour company as they generally have a contract in place for a ticket allotment. Here are some options that we know of:
3. The memorial is open every day of the week from 7am until 5pm. It is only closed three days of the year — Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Check this link for any changes in operation hours and days. It’s busiest times are around holidays, spring break and summer vacation.
4. Absolutely no bags of any kind are allowed. I’ve observed many people who are carrying purses, camera bags, etc read the sign that bags aren’t allowed and then proceed on as if it does not apply to them. Every single one of them are turned away. So, you do need to think about the logistics of securing your valuables. See this link for more information on the security measures and planning your visit.
You can carry in cameras, wallets, cell phones, etc. You just can’t bring them in a bag. A Go Visit Hawaii reader, Dave, commented that if you need a bag, you can ask for a bag from the bookstore once you are inside the facilities.
A private vendor operates a storage facility for visitors to all the attractions at Pearl Harbor. There is a nominal storage fee.
Do not leave your bags in plain sight in your rental car. If you want to leave your bags in the trunk, you should very discreetly place them in the trunk prior to arriving at the memorial parking lot. I should note that it is still risky to do that.
5. Your ticket will include an assigned time for the memorial tour that includes watching an excellent 23-minute documentary film depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor, taking a short boat ride to the actual USS Arizona Memorial, and touring the memorial.
6. There’s quite a bit to see and do in addition to the USS Arizona program. You can do your own self-guided tour of the museum, walk around the harbor grounds, and peruse the bookstore. By the way, it’s a good idea to be prepared to repel mosquitoes as I have been mosquito bitten in the museum.
7. Please be respectful when you visit the memorial as it is the underwater tomb of 1,177 service members.
8. For a great view of the USS Arizona Memorial, sit in the back of the boat on the return trip back to the shore.
Please enjoy our video showing scenes of a the boat ride in Pearl Harbor. Please note that this video was taken at a time when the Arizona Memorial ramp was under construction and therefore not accessible.
Have you visited the USS Arizona Memorial? What did you think of your visit?
Thanks for the great post Sheila. I’ve visited the Arizona Memorial twice. The signage along H-1 isn’t always the best so the first time I was there I actually drove to the base at Pearl Harbor thinking that was it, but the security guard redirected me.
Going out to the Arizona Memorial was both a sobering and inspiring experience when you think about all those boys (and most of them were just boys not older than 20) that gave their lives.
Both times I’ve been there I was fortunate enough to meet a survivor of the attack. Because it’s now been 68 years since the attack, those opportunities are shrinking. Some day I’m going to take my kids there so they can see it first hand and gain a better appreciation of the sacrifices that were made on that day.
Thanks, Adam, for the warning that the H-1 signage could be more helpful. Andy and I used a GPS navigation system the last couple of visits, so that probably kept us from getting lost.
Thank you for reminding us that most of the servicemen were boys. You are exactly right, they were very young.
I hope that you’ll be able to bring your kids to see this memorial some day soon.
Thanks again for your comment!
Oh, and one more thing, Adam. I’ve never been brave enough to approach one of the surviving servicemen. I’m afraid I’d burst into tears. I get misty-eyed just imagining saying a simple thank you to them.
I’ve been “blessed” with an abundance of sensitivity. Darn it! 😉
I hear ya there. As someone who was born in the 70’s, it’s hard to imagine what life must have been like. I’m sure even the stories don’t do it justice.
When we were there for the first time, we also went to see the Missouri and stood in the spot where MacArthur signed the formal surrender document. When I thought about the fact I was standing on the ship where the war officially ended combined with the fact we were in the harbor where it began for the US, I could feel the chills even on a sunny 85 degree day.
Sheila, a great post. I, too, know those emotions that well in my soul upon visiting the USS Arizona Memorial. It is so important to never forget. It is so important to remember those who lost their lives, mostly young men mowed down in their prime. It saddens me that we are still in a warring world. I wish it were not so. It must be the hardest thing to lose a family member to war. It is never enough to know one’s husband, son or father died a hero.
Mahalo, Paula for your first time comment and kind words!
I agree with you, it is very important that we never forget the brave men and women who lost their lives that day.
When I reflect back on the images from my visits to the USS Arizona Memorial, one photograph comes to mind. It’s an image of a couple of very young seamen wearing only their underwear, who were manning a gun on one of the battleship decks. Gosh, what heros!
Oh, you MUST tell them! I’ve written stories about survivors. They relish such encounters. They listen to you, but you listen to THEM. They never tire of hearing the appreciation. And they shouldn’t. They deserve to know every bit of gratitude! Go for it!
Pearl Harbor original footage set against Harper John’s song of the story of a still alive survivor ….performed by the American /British duo INDIEKLINE see Youtube “USS ARIZONA SINKING.
Get there early.
I’ve been several times. We had to wait almost 3-hours one time and got one of the last boats of the day because we got there late in the afternoon. However – Just like you said. There was plenty of other things to see & do do so we didn’t mind that much.
A long wait might be difficult if you have small kids with you or are elderly.
You can get some Great pictures if you sit in the very back of the boat on your way back to shore.
Dave – thanks for that back of the boat trick!
I was there!
You’ll find a short video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhAj6CInx7o
(and the USS Missouri: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMjE3qEtCgM)
Great videos, Stefan!
If you are lucky enough to travel with someone in the military you can get in early (7:00am i believe) they must be wearing their dress uniform (out of respect). On most days there is a re-enlistment ceremony available to military and their guest only. The story of the kamikaze pilot and the Captain of the Mo is my favorite story so I really suggest ppl tour the Mo too. As for Adam driving onto the ford island bridge honestly it happens twenty times a day. The guards are use to it.
Are there “special events” occurring on this year’s 71st anniversary? I’m wondering if I should visit Oahu to coincide with December 7th, or are there far more tourists then and it is more difficult to visit the memorial? Thanks.
Events in Hawaii usually aren’t announced much more than a couple of weeks to a couple of months beforehand.
If I had to guess, I would say that there would be something special for the 71st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Normally, they have a survivor on hand, which, as you can imagine, are becoming more rare as time goes on.
Reservations can be made up to six months in advance now for the $1.50 service fee. It is six months in calendar day. For example, if you want to go on December 15, you can make reservations on June 15.
There are 150 visitors on each tour. The reservation system will allow 30 of them on the reservation system. Do make your reservations as close to the six months as you can as they fill up fast.
Commercial tours also get advanced tickets.
The rest are first come first served.
The last tour is usually at 3:00pm. However, during the sequestration, the last tour is temporarily at 1:00pm now.
They do have a ceremony at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center every December 7. During the about 2 hour ceremony, there won’t be any tours. Tours will resume after the ceremony.
There is an annual Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Waikiki now on December 7th. Started in 2011.
Update on the sequester affecting USS Arizona Memorial tours.
Three tours have been added in the afternoon.
Reservations for these tours can be made through the online reservation system.
Tours available at 1:30, 2:00 and 2:30 starting June 28th for July 1- December 31.
I was wondering if I could arrive early in my uniform, get a ticket, and ask for a later tour and come back at around 230pm? I have read you can’t do the tour in battle uniform but could you just go for the tickets early around 7 am in uniform?
Murriah – we really don’t know uniform rules. Check this page for contact information to contact the park directly with your questions: http://www.nps.gov/valr/contacts.htm
Note in the main article, July 2014 Update, these advanced reservations are for 150 seats each on 1:15pm and 1:45pm tours.
Also advanced reservations can again be made through January 11 for the rest of the 35 tickets available for each tour. Most tickets have already been reserved.
Advanced reservations after January 11 are suspended.
I was just wondering if you can tell me your opinion on visiting this special site with young children. We are thinking about a trip to O’ahu but have 6 kids between 2-11. My husband is active duty AF, so the older kids have somewhat of an appreciation of these kind of things. Your thoughts would be appreciated!
Though adults will obviously appreciate the experience more than children, I would say that the park is fairly kid-friendly. Some of the exhibits are specifically designed for kids. Also, check out this link that’s intended to enhance the experience for kids: http://www.nps.gov/valr/forkids/index.htm
Kim – Take the kids. I’ve been on USS Arizona Memorial tour with kids of all ages.
Of the four Pearl Harbor museums, the only one that has an age restriction is USS Bowfin (submarine). See the note on this link for those under 4:
You might find some useful info for your trip on this link:
Sheila- thanks for the helpful hints! One question- you mention that suitcases in your trunk can be risky. We will be flying out to Maui in the afternoon after visiting PH in the morning. Do you recommend checking luggage at the hotel and going back for it as opposed to keeping it in the car? Since it’s a National Park, we were hopeful the parking lot was relatively safe, but I saw your warning, so I thought I’d ask you to elaborate! Thanks for you help!
Kelly – as Dave just mentioned, there’s a baggage check building in Pearl Harbor. It’s pretty easy to find/access from the parking lots. I was just there in December. I don’t recall there being any restrictions on bag size. The fee is $3 per bag paid by cash only.
Another idea to consider is to check with your airline and see when you could check your luggage for your flight to Maui. If the timing works for you and the airline, you could swing by the airport to check your luggage on the way to Pearl Harbor.
Thanks so much Sheila! We’ll look into it with Hawaiian airlines and see if we can check our bags on the way to PH, but we’ll be doing the 8am tour, so it might be best to check them. I’m glad we have both options! Thanks for letting us know!
Kelly there is a manned baggage storage area there near USS Bowfin. $3/bag. It is like a coat check. You’ll get a receipt that you use later to pick up your bags.
Updated info for advanced reservations:
Reservations can be made up to two months in advance.
Reservations can also be made for the next day. These are available at 7am Hawaii Standard Time.
Maximum # of tickets per reservation is six.
If you take TheBus to Pearl Harbor are the 4 attractions (Arizona, Missouri, Aviation Museum and Bowfin) within walking distance of each other?
We’ve only visited them one at a time. They may be walkable, but verify by looking at a map, like google maps where it allows you to determine walking distances.
“If you take TheBus to Pearl Harbor are the 4 attractions (Arizona, Missouri, Aviation Museum and Bowfin) within walking distance of each other?”
Yes! USS Arizona Memorial tour originates at the Visitors Center. USS Bowfin is at the Visitors Center. Shuttle for USS Missouri & Pacific Aviation Museum originates at the Visitors Center.
Lots of info on this page including a link to a map of the park:
Thank you Dave!!
A friend & I are going to Oahu in December for some of the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor events.
We plan to visit USS Arizona Memorial and maybe the other museums.
I am a Vietnam Veteran! Yet, I will be so humbled seeing & greeting the Pearl Harbor survivors.
Schedule of events: