Fittingly, as this is the 7th of December, we take time to pause and reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In the second photo, of special note are the smaller displays. Listed on these markers are the names of men who survived the initial attack while on the Arizona who later were interred within the ship many years later.
USS Arizona Memorial
A lot of people post questions on the Oahu Tripadvisor forums asking about timing their Pearl Harbor visit.
While this seems like an easy and simple thing to do, there is a lot more to Pearl Harbor than just the USS Arizona Memorial – there is so much to see here. So how do you lay it out to try and fit as much in as possible?
I think if and when we visit again, I would actually like to schedule in two days for Pearl Harbor and do it properly, and see everything there is to see there.
If I had to squeeze most things there into one day, I would schedule it like this –
– book ahead of time online for the USS Arizona Memorial and book for an 8:30am tour
– make sure you get a good breakfast before you head off – whether that be cereal in your hotel room or going somewhere to get it, but bear in mind this will be super early and you will want to be in your taxi or rental car by 6:30am to get to Pearl Harbor for 7am. I would go with cereal if you can.
– get there for the 7am opening – you will probably have to get a taxi (around $50-60US from Waikiki) or rent a car to get there this early but this place is so incredibly beautiful first thing in the morning and much cooler, it is worth budgeting for it in my opinion.
– Put your cellphone to silent – vibrate only – for your entire visit here.
– pick up the tickets for your USS Arizona Memorial tour first thing when you arrive – you must collect them at least one hour before your scheduled tour but it can be earlier than one hour.
– visit the USS Bowfin keeping an eye on the time and remembering you have to be at the theatre for your USS Arizona Memorial tour 10 minutes beforehand – set a silent/vibrate alarm on your phone for this – the sub tour will take about an hour.
– On your way back to the theatre for USS Arizona, if you have time visit the waterfront memorial near the USS Bowfin with all the submarine stories, this really puts what you just saw on the USS Bowfin into perspective. Bear in mind though, we spent a good 50 minutes here just reading these plaques.
– Take your tour out to USS Arizona. Make sure to ask the Navy staff if they did not clearly announce it – which they likely did as you arrive at the memorial – what time they want you back on the boat and set a *silent* e.g. vibrate only cell phone alarm for this so you do not miss your boat back. They do not make announcements on the memorial that your boat is leaving. It is up to you to make sure you do not miss it.
– When you return you will likely visit the Circle of Contemplation and sit and think for a little bit. There are also some things to read and see there.
Plaque at the Contemplation Circle
– If you now decide you want to visit the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum, grab your tickets for that and then head over to the shuttle to Ford Island
– Depending on the time of day and the weather, I would suggest visiting the Missouri first – the Pacific Aviation Museum has one large air-conditioned area and an air-conditioned place you can get a good lunch if you want, plus a walk to a non-airconditioned hangar.
– Be aware that the Pacific Aviation Museum has an excellent gift shop, as does the USS Bowfin as well as the visitors centre gift shops. These are three entirely separate stores run by different people and the merchandise in each is slightly different. If you see a book or something you want in one store, it is not necessarily safe to assume the other two stores will have it, so get what you want when you see it. 🙂
– When you return back from Ford Island, drop into the USS Bowfin gift store – this one is air-conditioned beautifully and you will enjoy that at this time of the day. You might also want to visit the Submarine Museum if you did not have time for it earlier, this is also air-conditioned I believe.
– There are shuttle buses back to Waikiki – VIP Trans and Reliable Shuttle are two companies I know of that run these, cost is around $6 or so. You can call them ahead of time and book your pickup time if you are willing to decide what time to leave ahead of time – alternatively you can let them know you will want to return at some point that afternoon and you will call to book in the time when you are ready. These generally run on the hour e.g. 2pm, 3pm.. they will tell you all that when you call.
– Alternatively you can catch TheBus back – keeping in mind this will take about an hour maybe more depending on traffic and by that time you might be a bit exhausted and over it. Additionally, in order to reach the Waikiki-bound busses, you will need to walk up to the Kamehameha Highway stop, as they do not enter the park on eastbound trips.
If I could do it in two days, I would make the USS Arizona Memorial tour for a little later, around 10-10:30am, and visit the USS Bowfin first, taking my time with that. I might then head over to the Pacific Aviation Museum and do the guided tour which costs a little more but these people are very interesting to listen to, it is worth it.
The second day I would reserve purely for the USS Missouri. While it might not take super long, I would be a lot more comfortable touring this in the early morning while it is still cooler, and being able to take my time with it.
Anyway those are just my thoughts after our last visit there. I felt like I wanted to know more, and I wanted to read more, and see more. Especially about the submarines after reading the plaques.
I did buy 4 books but I could have bought a *lot* more – I was being careful because I knew we had limited space for books in our luggage. I have since bought some e-books on this topic, and will probably pick up a few of the other books I most wanted for the e-reader once I have finished those. If you can budget some space for books in your luggage I think you will not regret doing that.
Everyone knows some of the details about the attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7th, 1941.
View from the Navy boat on the way to USS Arizona Memorial
After our visit there I felt the need to know more – about the attack itself, about the lead up to the attack.. and what happened after the attack.
After reading At Dawn We Slept by Gordon Prange which focuses a lot on the lead up to the attack, has quite a bit of info on the attack itself, and also some info of the aftermath as far as investigations into it.. there was not very much in this book about what happened specifically in Pearl Harbor after the attack.
I will review At Dawn We Slept in another post here on the blog, but in the meantime I wanted to tell you of a book I did find which has thus far answered most of my questions about what happened at Pearl Harbor after the attack – Resurrection: Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor – I am about half way through this one now. I will review this one also.
I bought it on Google Play – it was a little bit cheaper there than Amazon, plus we had a $50 credit from buying my new Android phone a while ago.
I also recently re-watched Tora Tora Tora and now I have questions about how that was made, it must have been a mammoth effort back in those days.
Black Tears or Tears from USS Arizona – oil on the surface of the water.
USS Arizona contains an estimated 500,000 gallons (2,300 tons) of Bunker C fuel oil, which has been slowly escaping since its loss. Over 70 years later, it continues to leak from the ship.
My googling turned up a pretty fascinating website – USS Arizona preservation project. It has not been updated in some time but still contains a lot of interesting information and photographs.
That site contains some fascinating and very respectful underwater photos of the USS Arizona from monitoring dives that were conducted. The site is an underwater grave for 1177 men, and over 30 have since had their ashes entombed or had their ashes scattered at the site.
Pearl Harbor survivors — those men who were formally assigned to the ship on December 7, 1941 — may have their ashes entombed within the ship, while other USS Arizona veterans may have their ashes scattered on the water directly over the vessel.
The site also contains a moving story from one of the divers who dove there which you should read before you visit – click here to read USS Arizona Revisited.
Interestingly the forward turrets were thought to have been removed, it was not until the preservation program began that they discovered they were still on the ship.
You can read more about the USS Arizona on the Wikipedia page by clicking here.
Presently the US Government is shutdown. What the?
It is a long story, I will put some links to press articles with more info for you at the bottom of this post if you want to know the whys and wherefores.. I actually hope by the time this post is scheduled to be posted the shutdown will be over, though it looks unlikely to end anytime soon.
Probably what you most want to know is.. how will this change my trip to Hawaii?
The biggest problem for us tourists is that all national parks are currently shut down. This includes Pearl Harbor on Oahu, which you have likely planned a visit to. You currently cannot visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the Pearl Harbor Visitors Centre or the USS Bowfin & Submarine Museum.
The USS Bowfin is a privately run non profit which just happens to be located within a national park. From the USS Bowfin website –
Bowfin Park is a privately operated non-profit institution that relies on admission fees and gift shop sales to maintain the historic World War II submarine USS Bowfin and the adjacent Pacific Submarine Museum.
And let me tell you the USS Bowfin people run one heck of a great gift shop. If the government shutdown is over when you visit, DO NOT MISS the USS Bowfin gift shop. It is over by the USS Bowfin, separate from the other gift shop you see at the entrance to Pearl Harbor in the visitors centre. You can purchase some of the items online but the store itself contains a lot of wonderful memorabilia and in particular the last time I visited they had a great range of baseball caps.
What Can You Visit At Pearl Harbor During Shutdown?
The USS Missouri is still open and accessible. From their website –
In lieu of the government shutdown the Battleship Missouri Memorial and Pacific Aviation Museum will remain open. Limited parking is available with shuttle service running as normal.
Special USS Arizona Memorial Tour Experience @ USS Missouri
While the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is closed, the tour guides of the Battleship Missouri Memorial will offer visitors a unique complimentary pierside interpretation of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and sinking of the USS Arizona.
The Missouri’s 1,000-foot pier extends to just a few hundred feet away from the USS Arizona Memorial and presents a memorable view of the historic monument.
The Pacific Aviation Museum is also open and accessible. If you choose to visit, make sure to say hello to the F-111C that the Royal Australian Air Force recently gifted to the Pacific Aviation Museum – you can read more about that here.
News Articles About Shutdown
My all time favourite has got to be this one – if you click on only one of these links, make it this one –
US Goverment Shutdown Explained – via our ABC
And a further snag – The US debt ceiling crisis explained – if the shutdown does not end by October 17th, the US will default on its debt.
This situation seems to have finally been resolved, and on the same day this post was posted. Good news for all!