Pearl Harbor
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Remembering Pearl Harbor in 5 facts

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the 9/11 of its day, remembered as a defining moment of the Second World War. But Pearl Harbor is about much more than its most tragic moment. Here's a brief history to prepare you for your tour!

It was once a sacred site

The large bay was originally called Wai Momi, or "Waters of Pearl." According to Hawaiian legend, it's home to the shark goddess, Kaʻahupahau.

It's been expanded twice

First by the Ewa chief, Keaunui, who reshaped the estuary to make it accessible. Then, in 1869, the US deepened the waters leading into the harbor while Hawaii was still a kingdom.

Hawaii wasn't part of the US when it was attacked

The kingdom made way for the Republic of Hawaii in 1893, which let the US establish a naval base at the harbor six years later. It didn't become the 50th state until 1959!

A surprising excuse for incompetence?

US intelligence is rumored to have expected the "surprise" attack, but either way, the naval base was woefully unequipped to defend against any kind of air-raid.

It's still an operational naval base

The Pearl Harbor attacks killed 2,403 Americans and Hawaiians, and sunk much of the US' naval might. Defiantly, it's still home to the bigger-than-ever US Pacific Fleet!

Our insider tips

What are the opening times?

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is open daily from 7:00AM to 5:00PM, except for Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st. Expect it to be busy at any time! If travelling on a budget then arrive early to snap up one of the free walk-in tickets, otherwise it's recommended that you book in advance!

How to get there?

Pearl Harbor can be accessed by City Bus and taxi, but the former is slow (up to 2 hours) and the latter expensive. Many cheap, quick transportation services don't have clearance to the tourist site itself, so the best way to reach Pearl Harbor is undoubtedly with a certified tour company.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    7:00AM - 5:00PM
  • Is it expensive?
    Walk-in tickets are free, but best to guarantee access by purchasing an all-inclusive tour package.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help.
  • How to get there
    Best to go in a private van with a tour company.
  • Additional information
    Get out your fanny pack! Backpacks and other large bags must be checked at the storage area.

What people are saying about Pearl Harbor

Unfortunately, the threat of lightning caused the tour to cancel.

It would have been helpful to know the tour was at risk due only to rain BEFORE online registration and payment.

Despite the weather we really enjoyed it.

The tour bus driver, Andrea, was exceptional and went way above and beyond to make our tour to the Arizona very memorable.

Too rush needed at least 30-45 more minutes for the museum.

No time for gift shop. Felt way too rushed. No reason to shirt change on time since we r on our own anyway

Absolutely fantastic - well organised - thank you to Manuel

Would like to compliment Manuel on his wonderful interesting knowledge to make our trip so memorable

Honolulu: Full-Day Pearl Harbor Combo Tour Reviewed by Laurel, 10/02/2017

Everything was excellent, I have nothing to say negative.

Everything was on point towards the history of the attack. I felt like I was there in some way.

Honolulu: USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour Reviewed by Gary, 09/25/2017

Things to do near Pearl Harbor