Which Hawaiian Island do I choose for my vacation if I want to go to Pearl Harbor?

A view of Pearl Harbor showing the USS Missouri Battleship and the USS Arizona Memorial
A view of Pearl Harbor showing the USS Missouri Battleship and the USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, Mighty Mo, the USS Bowfin submarine. With Pearl Harbor’s importance in American history, many people want to make sure they see it as part of their first Hawaii vacation. A question I commonly hear is: which island should I choose for my Hawaii vacation if I want to see Pearl Harbor?

Many people assume that they must plan an Oahu vacation in order to see Pearl Harbor. An Oahu vacation certainly makes visiting Pearl Harbor easy. However, you can actually stay on any Hawaiian island and visit Pearl Harbor with a day trip to Oahu.

With Oahu being the central airport hub of Hawaii, you can find more flights to and from Oahu from the other islands, which makes taking a day trip easy. Inter-island flights are relatively short — approximately 20 to 40 minutes long. (See our inter-island transportation guide.)

Day trips to Oahu are easy to plan and you have a couple of options. You can plan your own independent Oahu day trip with our Oahu sightseeing map and touring guides or chose from several packaged day trips that take care of all the logistics and transportation for you. The independent trips can save a hundred dollars or more per person. Independent day trips provide you with flexibility, but you must be your own navigator. The packaged trips include narration and take away all the stress of planning and driving, however you are touring with a set schedule with a bus load of other people. You won’t be able to see near as much with a packaged tour as you would with an independent day trip Each option has its advantages.


  1. Hi Sheila, we will be visiting Waikiki shortly. My children ages 14&12 want to take surfing lessons. Do you recommend a safe place for this on the island?. Do I need to purchase special gear beforehand. Also for snorkeling should we pack are own gear as suitcase space is limited. We plan on bringing carry-ons only.

    1. Check out Hawaiian Fire for surfing lessons. I’ve not personally tried them, but I’ve heard many, many good things about them. It’s run by Honolulu firemen in their off time. They also hold the lessons on a beach with gentle waves. You don’t need any special gear for that.

      You can easily rent snorkel gear on the island.

  2. Hi. I will be visiting in August on Norweigen cruise ship and was wondering since it appears its free to visit the Arizona how can I get there from the ship? Is it far or difficult? The excursion is over $100 a person and I’m thinking it can be cheaper to find another way to go. Also the Kauai helicopter that you recommend does that go over a volcano? Do they pick you y=up from the ship? Which Luau do u suggest? Thank you

    1. I don’t know what a taxi ride would cost from the cruise ship to the USS Arizona Memorial, but I’m guessing it would be less than $100 round trip. If you got a rental car, you could probably do quite a bit of the Oahu sight-seeing listed in this post: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2011/04/04/a-day-trip-island-hop-to-oahu/

      There isn’t an active volcano on Kauai. I doubt helicopter tour companies pick you up from the ship, but you should call them to ask and verify that.

      There are lots of great luaus in Hawaii, so it’s hard to choose just one.

      1. By the way, you can get shuttle service from the pier to the rental car companies.

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