Pearl Harbor Ultimate Guide (Itinerary & Ticket Prices) [2022]

Pearl Harbor is one of the most visited sites in all of Hawaii. But there’s a lot to see here and it can be a little bit confusing as to how to best visit all of the different attractions.

In this guide, I’ll break down all of the different sites to see at Pearl Harbor.

I’ll give you an idea of what to expect at each of the sites and also recommendations for how long to spend at each location. I’ll also provide pricing information so you’ll be able to prepare a proper budget before visiting.

So let’s dive in!

Pearl Harbor Overview

Why is Pearl Harbor significant?

Pearl Harbor is considered one of the most sacred and significant sites in the US for a few reasons.

First, it’s the location where the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack in 1941 which led to the US getting involved in World War II.

Second, the surprise attack resulted in one of the worst military losses in the nation’s history with 2,335 killed — a figure almost equivalent to the lives lost on D-Day.

While much of the Pearl Harbor history is quite heavy due to the loss of life, coming here is not an entirely somber occasion.

Visiting Pearl Harbor is about reflecting upon the lives sacrificed but also taking pride in the bravery and triumphs of the US and Allied forces during World War II.

By spending time at the various sites below, you’ll learn a lot about the events that took place in the Pacific Theater in World War II.

History will come to life and hopefully you’ll walk away with an increased sense of gratitude for the freedoms and luxuries that we enjoy today.

Where is Pearl Harbor located?

When you visit, the exact site you want to go to is the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center (also referred to as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial).

It’s located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu in Honolulu, about 20 minutes from Waikiki.

The Google Maps address is: 1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818.

Make sure that you had to that destination because if you just put Pearl Harbor in your GPS it might route you to the military base.

There are a few different parking lots out in front of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center consists of an outdoor complex with multiple sites, museums, and memorials within it and the complex also connects to a few sites located on nearby Ford Island, which is also an active military base.

Some of the sites are managed by the National Park Service but others like the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum are separate and independent sites.

Pearl Harbor list of sites and prices

You can divide the entire Pearl Harbor National Memorial area into four main areas to make it easier to plan your trip.

These four areas include:

  • Submarine sites
  • USS Arizona sites
  • Visitor Center sites
  • Ford Island sites

Below, I’ll give you the list of sites to check out along with recommendations of how long it will take you.

These recommendations are based on you moving fairly efficiently through the attractions.

If you’re someone who typically moves pretty slowly through museums and exhibits, then consider adding more time to each of my recommendations.

Submarine sites [1.5 hours]

  • USS Bowfin [30 minutes] {$16.99}
  • Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum [45 minutes] {included with USS Bowfin}
  • Outdoor exhibits [15 minutes] {included with USS Bowfin}

USS Arizona sites [2.5 hours]

  • Two Galleries (“Road to War” and “Attack) [30 minutes] {Free}
  • Virtual Reality [30 minutes]
  • 23-minute film [30 minutes] {Free}
  • USS Arizona Memorial [60 minutes] {Free}

Visitor Center sites [30 minutes]

  • Remembrance Circle, Lone Sailor, and USS Arizona anchor {Free}
  • Interpretive Wayside Exhibits {Free}
  • Bookstore {Free}
  • Information booths {Free}

Ford Island sites [2.5 hours]

  • USS Missouri Battleship [1.5 hours] {$34.99}
  • USS Oklahoma Memorial [15 minutes] {Free}
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum [45 minutes] {$25.99}

Pearl Harbor places to eat [30 minutes]

There are a handful of places you can grab a bite to eat at when visiting Pearl Harbor.

  • Visitor Center (snacks)
  • Jake’s Food Truck @ USS Bowfin/Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum
  • Sliders Grill, Wai Momi Shaved Ice, and Battleshop @ USS Missouri
  • Laniakea Café @ Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (serves alcohol)

Structuring your itinerary: One day or two days?

Pearl Harbor can definitely be done in one day and if you complete it in one day your itinerary might look something like this:

Day 1:

  • Submarine sites
  • Visitor Center sites
  • USS Arizona sites
  • Ford Island sites

But if you really want to see everything Pearl Harbor has to offer, try out some of the newer attractions like the flight simulator and VR experiences, and you want to take your time through it all, you probably need 1.5 days.

If you can allocate 1.5 days for your Pearl Harbor visit my proposed itinerary would be the following in this order.

Day 1:

  • Submarine sites
  • Visitor Center sites
  • USS Arizona sites

Day 2:

  • Ford Island sites
  • Punchbowl Cemetery (not located in Pearl Harbor but closely related)

Now that you have a sense of how to structure your itinerary, let’s get into the individual sites.

Submarine sites

The submarine sites are all lumped together so if you purchase a ticket for one you get entry into all of them.

USS Bowfin

You will need to buy tickets in order to visit the USS Bowfin and here are the prices for the tickets:

• Adult General: $21.99
• Children General (4-12 years): $12.99

Military members and Kama’aina can get discounts:

• Adult (Military and Kama’aina): $16.99
• Child (Military and Kama’aina): $8.99

The USS Bowfin and the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum are located on the north side of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial area.

After you go through the main entrance, you will head to the right to make your way to the submarine.

The USS Bowfin is a submarine that was launched one year after the Pearl Harbor attack and earned the nickname of the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.”

In World War II, the USS Bowfin conducted nine war patrols between 1943 and 1945 and most of her patrols were in the South China Sea, Celebes Sea, off the East coast of Japan, and into the Sea of Japan.

She is considered one of the best preserved submarines from World War II.

You can walk her main deck and explore the different compartments while doing a self-guided tour and if you’d like you can also use an audio guide.

The submarine area opens up at 7am so it’s a perfect attraction to head to first when you arrive at Pearl Harbor.

We explored it around 7am and were able to have the entire submarine to ourselves, which was one of the coolest experiences we had in Hawaii.

Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum

Once you exit the submarine, you can check out the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. This museum consists of two parts with one part focusing on World War II and the other on more modern times including the Cold War.

There’s a lot of interactive exhibits and you’ll learn a ton about what life was like on a submarine.

The museum was also recently renovated so it has a very modern feel to it and I would highly recommend you allocate some time to check it out.

Outdoor artifacts

There are also a number of outdoor artifacts located outside the museum worth checking out like the conning tower from the USS Parche and a Mark 14 torpedo. It’s also pretty fun to try out one of the periscopes.

USS Arizona sites

At Pearl Harbor, there are several sites related to the USS Arizona and it sort of feels like the entire area revolves around the USS Arizona, which is understandable.

So here are a few tips on how to make the most of your USS Arizona visit.

Two Galleries (“Road to War” and “Attack”)

Before you visit the ship, there are a few things you might want to check out to give you a little bit more insight into what was going on at the time of the attack and all of the events leading up to that time.

For that reason, I’d recommend checking out the two galleries that are near the check-in area for the USS Arizona. Both of these galleries “Road to War” and “Attack” are free and can be visited relatively quickly.

They put on some nice exhibits that give you some insight into the history but also provide details that can make your visit to the USS Arizona more impactful.

23 minute film

There’s also a video that you can watch that is highly recommended by a lot of people.

Usually, this video would be played inside the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater but due to the pandemic they currently play it outside.

It’s on a continuous loop so you just need to wait for it to begin and then take a seat but it is recommended to watch this before you head out to the USS Arizona.

Right next to the area where the film is playing, you can also partake in one of the VR sessions.

This is one of the newer attractions and you can choose from several different sessions that will take you back to the time of the attacks.

Finally, you may also prefer to purchase one of the audio guides, which you can use when touring the USS Arizona Memorial and on the boat ride over.

USS Arizona Memorial

For the majority of people, the main attraction at Pearl Harbor is probably the USS Arizona Memorial.

This memorial resides on top of the sunken USS Arizona which was the ship that suffered the most fatalities during the attack. A total of 1,177 Marines and sailors lost their life.

In order to visit the USS Arizona Memorial you must board a shuttle boat.

While the shuttle boat ride itself is free there is a one dollar reservation fee and you definitely want to make reservations as far in advance as possible to ensure that you have a seat. Reservations can be made at recreation.gov.

To understand the full scope of what you’ll be seeing and how the logistics work, I’d highly recommend you to check out my full guide on the USS Arizona experience.

Visitor Center

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is not confined to a single building but it essentially makes up the entire outdoor plaza at Pearl Harbor.

There’s a bookstore, bathrooms, information desks, and quite a few different places to explore around the visitor center grounds.

Here are the sites that you do not want to miss.

Waterfront Memorial

Beginning on the side closest to the USS Bowfin, you can check out the Waterfront Memorial — a tribute to all of the lost submariners who are said to be on “eternal patrol.”

If you’re unaware, submarines played a major role in World War II and after a shaky start they became very successful in decimating many Japanese vessels including a lot of merchant ships who were transporting valuable resources for the Japanese military.

This memorial pays tribute to around 4,000 submariners who gave their life with most of those lost lives occurring during World War II.

Lone Sailor Statue

Be sure to also stop by some of the other memorial sites including the Lone Sailor Statue. This is an iconic statue meant to represent the United States Navy Memorial’s mission to:

Honor, Recognize, and Celebrate the men and women of the Sea Services, past, present, and future; and Inform the public about their service.”

These symbolic statues can be found in various places around the US and a few abroad. The one here in Pearl Harbor is special as a plaque reads: “The Base of This Statue Contains Steel from the USS Arizona.”

USS Arizona anchor

Right next to the statue is the anchor from the USS Arizona.

USS Arizona bell

You can also find one of the bells from the USS Arizona near the check-in area for the USS Arizona shuttle boat. It’s also where people wait in line for standby tickets.

The other USS Arizona bell is currently housed in a clock tower at the University of Arizona, where there is also a well done USS Arizona memorial.

Remembrance Circle

You’ll definitely want to check out the Remembrance Circle which pays tribute to all of the 2,403 Americans who were lost during the Pearl Harbor attacks, including some civilians.

Inside the circular memorial you’ll find a pedestal with a topographical map of Oahu marking various locations around the island that were struck on the morning of the attack. It’s a good reminder that it wasn’t just Pearl Harbor that took hits on December 7, 1941.

There’s another circular structure that is known as Contemplation Circle and it’s just meant for you to reflect on all of the events of Pearl Harbor.

You’ll also find interpretive panels located along the pathway that will shed some light into the events that took place during the attacks. These will help you really get a sense of what Battleship Row looked like on the day of the attacks.

Ford Island sites

You’ll need to board a shuttle bus and take the ride over to Ford Island in order to visit the USS Missouri, USS Oklahoma Memorial, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

There is also a special memorial for the USS Nevada but it is not open to the public.

The shuttle bus is free and it only takes about 10 minutes to get over to that area.

The shuttle bus runs in a one-way loop and first stops at the USS Missouri/USS Oklahoma and then makes another stop at the Aviation Museum before heading back to the visitor center.

For this reason, if you plan on visiting both the USS Missouri and the Aviation Museum then you need to first to get off at the USS Missouri.

USS Missouri

You can buy general admission tickets for the USS Missouri online or in-person at the following rates:

  • Adults: $34.99
  • Children: $17.49 (ages 4-12)

The USS Missouri (aka Mighty Mo) is the last battleship commissioned by the US and it is where the Japanese officially surrendered during World War II.

It’s definitely one of the top attractions at Pearl Harbor and you can read about our full experience here.

You can walk up to the exact spot where the Japanese surrender happened and also learn about some of the history and the events that took place that day.

Other interesting sites include kamikaze deck and just exploring all of the different corridors of the ship. It’s amazing how these ships were essentially floating cities.

If you’ve never been on a battleship before, you’ll likely be in awe at the size of the 16″ gun barrels which are the largest the US ever created on a battleship.

USS Oklahoma Memorial

Before (or after) you head to the USS Missouri, I would recommend you to check out the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

It’s a small memorial but does a great job of paying tribute to all of the lost Sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma which was the ship that had the second highest amount of deaths from the attack.

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

After that, you can head back to the shuttle bus and then make your way over to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

You can buy tickets for the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum online or in-person at the following rates:

  • Adults: $25.99
  • Children: $15.99 (ages 4-12)

Some people skip out on the Aviation Museum but I think that’s a major mistake.

It has some very interesting exhibits and it’s one of the only places in the world where you’ll see a Japanese Kate bomber plane.

In addition to that, you can see a Japanese Zero which was the main type of fighter plane used by the Japanese.

They also have the remnants from the Zero plane that crashed on the island of Niihau which is one of the most fascinating and under-told stories from World War II.

Another must see at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is all of the bullet holes that you can still find in the windows from the attacks.

Soon the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum will be finished with the renovations of the control tower and you’ll be able to head up to where the first radio broadcast was made signaling the attack.

Punch Bowl cemetery

The final site that you may want to add is the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific also known as the Punchbowl Cemetery.

This site is not located at Pearl Harbor but is about 18 minutes away and is found in the famous Punchbowl Crater.

It has a close connection to Pearl Harbor as many of those who died in Pearl Harbor (and survived) were buried in the cemetery. It also pays special tribute to thousands of military members whose remains were never recovered. You can read about our experience visiting here.

Final word

Visiting Pearl Harbor is definitely a memorable experience. But there is a lot to see here so it really helps to do some research before you arrive. Hopefully, this guide will help you figure out all of the sites you’ll want to visit.

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