I was surprised when I found out that the most popular memorial at Pearl Harbor was free to visit. As a history major, I was essentially obligated to see the USS Arizona Memorial, and I am so glad that I did. Although it meant rolling myself out of bed at 6AM to avoid the lines and the chance that I might not get a ticket on the shuttle to the memorial, the experience was well worth it.
As I said I woke up around 6AM and took a taxi to Pearl Harbor. I got in line at 6:45AM on a Wednesday and I was probably number 30 or 40 in line. When they opened the gates at 7AM I got right in and walked up to the counter to receive the first shuttle time to the USS Arizona Memorial at 8AM. In the meantime I walked through the two free museums displaying history and artifacts from the events leading up to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and from the war that followed. The two museums are very well done and give you a great context for what you are about to witness.
A little before 8AM I headed over to the movie theater for the 20-or-so-minute movie about the attacks. The movie was very good, definitely don’t miss that if you visit. Then we boarded the shuttle which took us out to the memorial in about 5 minutes.
The memorial is built on top of the sunken USS Arizona ship which still holds hundreds of soldiers bodies. It serves as a tomb for them now. The memorial itself is open air, you can feel the wind from every direction and if you look out of the windows at the water you can see the oil that is still leaking from the ship. It is a solemn experience and a really integral part of our nation’s history. It was especially poignant to see military personnel visiting the monument. It really makes you appreciate all that they do for our country.
The ride back is another 5 minutes and then you can explore the rest of the free memorials and plaques outside. Well worth the early wake up time.
- There is no bathroom at the memorial, make sure you use the restroom before you go to see the movie.
- Get there early! 2+ hour lines form after 10AM and they often sell out of their tickets to the memorial by noon.
- If you want to spend a little extra money the USS Bowfin submarine is at Pearl Harbor as well as the Pacific Aviation Museum.
- Remember that the memorial is a place of quiet reflection.
Where: Pearl Harbor, Oahu, HI
When: I suggest arriving around 6:45, open 7AM-5PM Daily
What was your visit to the memorial like?