Oahu’s Punchbowl — National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

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 visiting? Most importantly, it’s place to remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have served the United States and our allies.

This volcanic crater’s Hawaiian name is Puowaina, which is most commonly translated as “Hill of Sacrifice”.  Punchbowl is indeed a hill of sacrifice with hundreds of graves representing service and sacrifice to our nation.

National Cemetary of the Pacific Memorial (Punchbowl)

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 a view of Honolulu.

View of Honolulu from Punchbowl

What to know before you go:

  • Punchbowl is located in Honolulu at 2177 Puowaina Drive. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the Waikiki resorts.
  • There is no charge to visit Punchbowl.
  • 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. The exception is Memorial Day, when there are extended hours. Do check their website for any changes to these hours.
  • On Memorial Day, special ceremonies are held. Each grave is decorated with a lei made and donated by Oahu residents.
  • Many tour companies offer packaged tours that include the USS Arizona Memorial and Punchbowl. Most 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.
  1. This year Punchbowl Cemetery was chosen by Wreaths Across America to send Poinsettia wreaths to. I have some photos on my blog if you would like to see what they looked like spread across the graves. It really was quite a beautiful display.

    Each year the organization chooses a National Cemetery to send the wreaths to. It just so happened that my Aunts women’s organization had contributed to the organization not knowing that they would be sending the wreaths hear. I thought that was quite a serendipitous thing. http://wp.me/p1ai0c-65

  2. Good Morning, I have a Brother-in-law buried at the Punch Bowl and i would like to send a Wreath to the Punch Bowl in Dec. 2013, How do i go about doing that?? I saw pictures of Arlington Cemetery with Wreaths at every Grave and It Was Breath Taking!! It made me so Proud Of America!! Thank You. Susan Long Oak Hill, Ohio

    1. Hi Susan,

      My father was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and was killed aboard the carrier U.S.S. Ranger (CVA-61) in 1963. I have a marker for him at Punch Bowl. Every Memorial Day I have an arrangement put on his marker. From the 1960s or 1970s, I have an arrangement with Beretania Florist in Hawaii to have this done. They are very honest and ethical and I recommend them to the nth degree. Look them up on the Internet and I’m sure they can help you.

  3. Hi, my cousin Trisha is on life support in San Francisco, her parents are buried at Punchbowl Memorial. We would really like to get some information to see if theres any way she can be laid to rest with her parents. If you could please contact me and give me any information I would greatly appreciate it.

    1. Hello, I reside here in Honolulu and visit Punchbowl a few times a year. To my knowledge, burials or inurnments are for the veteran and his/her spouse…..you can check that out……I have never see children of the above allowed…..sorry to say!

  4. I have visited Oahu about 12 times. This includes my 24 years in the military & as a civilian. I take my family members and act as their guide. If some of you are not aware, if you have a military ID Card (retired or active) you may take your auto to Ford Island & visit the original Arizona Memorial & The USS Utah and drive the perimeter of Ford Island and see the original hangers and the control tower as it was on 7 Dec 1941. Also you can visit Bellows’s Military Recreational Area. I highly recommend this. Bellows has the most beautiful beach on Oahu & it is not crowded. Bellows has a small BX where you can rent buggy boards, footballs, diving masks & many more beach equipment. So use use your Military ID Card. You earned the rewards.

  5. How easy is it to take the bus to Punchbowl and tour on foot?

    PS The current website for Roberts Hawaii lists a drive through of the cemetary only, not stopping. This is their Stars & Stripes Tour

    1. Thanks for letting us know about Roberts of Hawaii no longer stopping. We’ve updated the article.

      If you go to the website for The Bus (thebus.org), you can enter your starting point address and end point address and it will create bus route options for you with Google Maps. You can choose options. It will give you times, bus numbers, transfers and walking distances. Out of curiosity, I just searched from Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to the address for Punchbowl, which is listed in the article. The quickest route was 57 minutes including one bus change and about 15 minutes of walking. The last bit of walking is uphill on the way.

  6. Hello. Sorry to hear of your father passing aboard ship. I was also on the RANGER 80-83. I worked for a number of years to save RANGER. Unfortunately we were not successful. However I did film a video tour of the ship before she was scrapped. It can be found on YouTube at USS RANGER video tour.

  7. Hi, I located my Uncles gravesite at one time while at Punchbowl. I’ve tried recently via internet for his son and was not able to find a site to locate it for my cousin. Can someone help me to locate his gravesite again ? Thank You

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