“YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
Library of Congress: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. Address to Congress requesting a declaration of war, Dec. 8, 1941
It is hard to believe that the quiet port area of Oahu, known in Hawaiian as “Pu’uloa”or Pearl Harbor, was once the site of one of the most deadliest attacks ever to have occurred on this planet. It was December 7, 1941 – truly a day that will forever be emblazoned in the minds and hearts of many who still grace our world. One way to be sure that the lessons of this era are not forgotten is to put Pearl Harbor on your #MustSee travel list!
There are many FAQs about visiting Pearl Harbor on their website. Click here for these. In addition, I would like to add a few suggestions that may help make your visit easier.
Tip1: GO EARLY! I mean arrive when the parking lot opens and plan on visiting more than one day, if possible. I have been three times and at different times of the year. It can be hot and crowded by noon no matter what month you visit, so I can’t stress enough the importance of arriving early (they open at 7am) and staying until lunch then leaving and coming back another day. Also, wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved if you visit the entire park.
Tip 2: The actual memorial for the USS Arizona is under renovation due to a crack – thus it is not safe for visitors to actually walk around the memorial. Instead, there is a very nice movie and boat ride (70 minutes total) that includes audio commentary of the events of December 7, 1941 – when the Japanese navy attacked the harbor leaving thousands dead, wounded and much of the US Pacific fleet destroyed.
Tip 3: The website also advises people of the following if you wish to take the boat and video tour of the USS ARIZONA:
There are three ways to secure the movie/boat tickets to the Memorial:
- Two months out, 325 tickets are placed online at recreation.gov. The official National Park Service website for its Parks. Please note there are three choices to choose from in getting these tickets.
- Each day at 7:00am Hawaii Standard Time an additional 525 tickets are placed on recreation.gov for the next day’s reservations.
- If you were not able to secure your movie/boat tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial online, the National Park Service gives out over 1,300 free walk up tickets each day on a first come, first serviced basis. Be sure to arrive early for these walk up tickets, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 7:00am.
Tip 4: Bring a tiny pocketbook / wallet / or clear bag. For security reasons, pocketbooks, backpacks, duffels, etc. are NOT allowed and will cost you $5 each if you have to check them in to their storage facility. The rule of thumb is that if the bag is larger than your hand, it will not be permitted in the park.
The park rangers also advise you NOT to leave valuables in your car as the parking is not secure (although it is FREE to park!) I learned the second day of my trip to bring a ziplock clear bag and stick my valuables in that followed by a $1.99 tote bag that I bought at the gift shop. Money well spent.
Tip 5: Watch the movies to see authentic reel footage from World War II. And, before you venture on your trip watch their welcome video that you can find here.
Tip 6: Ask questions of the many experts and docents that are on the premises. They are a wealth of knowledge and some are related to Pearl Harbor as family members or ex-military.
Tip 7: Buy a Passport to visit the other ships and submarine in port that are part of the memorial. The USS BOWFIN (submarine) was a great tour and given two thumbs up by my family members. Grab the free audio tape to listen- it comes in several languages. For those who need captioning or interpreting – please see the information in the chart I found below.
All Photos by Louise Sattler