TravelShack Customer rating:
5 out of 5 stars
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Lonely Planet guidebook:
Pearl Harbor has a resonance for all Americans. The site is accessible, evocative, and moving. It’s the top site for visitors to Hawaii.
The USS Arizona doesn't tell the only story. With the nearby USS Bowfin and USS Missouri, together they represent the beginning, middle, and end of the war. Dedicate at least a day.
Pearl Harbor: Top Reasons to Go to Oahu. A sobering, don’t miss sight.
Same-day tickets can disappear within an hour [if not part of tour]
The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites are a must-see to grasp.
On a busy day, be prepared to wait several hours [if not part of tour]
Oahu Revealed guidebook:
The USS Arizona Memorial is the single most popular visitor attraction on Oahu and a must-do for good reason, but all three Navy vessels are worth your time. The Arizona is the most somber, the Missouri the most impressive in its scale, and the Bowfin the most interesting for observing what it must have been like to live in a submerged vessel.
Parking can be difficult at peak times.
The tour is at Pearl Harbor for approximately 5 hours (total tour time is 6-7.5 hours when lodging pick-up/transport is included). About 2 hours is at the USS Missouri, 1 hour for the Arizona Memorial visit, and 30-60 minutes at the USS Bowfin. In addition, there is 30-60 minutes for lunch, the Arizona Memorial film (in a large theater), and some independent time to browse additional exhibits and the gift shop. Please note that this may vary a bit based on the guide’s discretion that day, as well as the pace of the group. The order of the sites may change as well, especially since the Arizona Memorial boat ride ticket time often varies.
Most tours will have a military veteran as a guide, having served in recent decades. However, the exception is currently Wednesdays, so you may want to choose another day of the week if possible.
If a veteran is critical for you, you may also want to make a note at checkout, for the rare times when a veteran is not available (beyond Wednesdays) so we know to contact you.
This tour is not only an opportunity to support a veteran-owned business and local veterans, but it’s also the best way to get the most out of the experience with guides who have a special connection to the military and local community.
As an example, a regular guide for this tour is Olav H., a military historian and retired US Army officer. He has also taught Military Science at the University of Hawaii. He graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in International Business.
He enjoys studying the WWII Pacific Theater of Operations and has been taking people to Pearl Harbor since 1999. He has also had some unique roles, including:
Another frequent guide is Luis G. He is 5th generation born in Hawaii, and he served in the Navy on the USS Maryland as well as in Washington D.C. He completed his Bachelor's Degree in Hawaii focused on U.S. History and is passionate about sharing military and Hawaii history and local culture.
Yes, particularly for those flying in from a neighboring island for the day. Please make sure to arrive in time for pick-up at 9:15 am and depart after being dropped off around 3:30-4 pm (although if doing private tour, there may be some flexibility with timing). Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines both have multiple daily flights. We recommend booking a flight arriving by 8:30-45 am and departing after 5 pm, ideally 5:30 pm or later, or if a flight to outside Hawaii then even later. Please see FAQ below about luggage. You can also be dropped off elsewhere in Honolulu and Waikiki and transport yourself to the airport on your own later.
Both the Waikiki/Honolulu and the Ko Olina tour work with airport pickups/dropoffs.
Alternatively, especially if it's challenging to align the flight and tour times exactly, you may want to spend more time at Pearl Harbor outside the tour (e.g., gift shops / visitor center), rather than kill time at the airport. Pearl Harbor is less than 10 minutes from the airport. You can arrive at Pearl Harbor before the tour (meeting tour at 9:20 am) and/or leave later than the tour (which concludes at Pearl Harbor 3-3:30 pm). Transportation options from/to airport include Lyft and Uber and are around $20-25.
Yes. Please note pick-up is 9 am and drop-off 3:30-4 pm at the Honolulu cruise ship terminal. Please factor in 30-60 minutes to disembark the cruise ship upon docking. Or a private tour may provide more flexibility (see related FAQ).
If you are doing this tour on the same day you start or end your cruise, luggage should not be brought on tour (except possibly if private tour), so you may want to just store at your hotel front desk (note: Waikiki hotels pickup 8:30-8:50 am and drop off 4-4:30 pm).
Some hotels provide a service to drop off your luggage at the cruise terminal for you. For example, the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort have provided such a service for the Pride of America cruise ship; please inquire with these lodgings for details and to confirm this service is still offered.
Pickups and dropoffs at the cruise terminal only occur with the Waikiki/Honolulu Tour, or you could do the Ko Olina tour but you would need to meet/end at Pearl Harbor.
If possible, please book this tour on a date when you don't have to worry about storing luggage.
Due to security restrictions at Pearl Harbor, in general luggage should not be brought on the tour. You can store at the airport, at your hotel (where the tour can drop you off after the tour to retrieve), or at other storage locations.
If you book a private tour, it may be possible to store at Pearl Harbor (fee applies), or the tour could return you to your Honolulu hotel after the tour to quickly pick up your checked bags there and then drop you off at airport (additional charge may apply). For the shared tour, due to additional time for checking in & retrieving bags at Pearl Harbor as well as space constraints on the van, this option is only available for shared tour guests who meet and end the tour at Pearl Harbor so it doesn't take up tour time.
Pearl Harbor is generally accessible to all fitness levels and mobility abilities. However, the tour does try to cover a lot of ground in the time allotted, which means quite a bit of walking and being on one's feet. Built-in sitting time at Pearl Harbor only includes the 20 minute film, the boat ride to the Arizona, the van ride to/from Missouri, and ~30 minutes for lunch; the rest is generally on one's feet. Unless a private tour more customized to the group, shared tours usually end up over 5 miles of total walking for the day. Tours are not able to drive guests directly up to the sites, so there is some walking to even just get to a sight.
More specifically, the Bowfin submarine is a bit challenging with steps and narrow spaces, so those with limited mobility may need to sit out that part of the tour (~30-45 minutes).
Parts of the large Missouri battleship also have stairs and narrow spaces, but either the tour can focus on other areas (depending on the makeup of the tour group, and especially if it's a private tour) or split up momentarily if needed.
For the shared tour, it's important that the tour provide the full experience to all other participants. As a general test, it is recommended that shared tour participants be able to walk 300 yards without stopping. If this is not possible, the shared tour may not be a good fit for you. Or otherwise you may have to separate from the group for more frequent rests or to sit out some of the exploration on the Bowfin and Missouri.
Wheelchair participants should book a private tour and must be pushed by someone in their party, not the guide. Parts of the Missouri are wheelchair accessible, and there is even an elevator. No wheelchairs are permitted on the Bowfin.
For those with more limited abilities that are concerned whether the shared tour is a good fit, we recommend booking either a private tour, or our Pearl Harbor - Circle Island Combo tour which only includes the easier Arizona portion at Pearl Harbor, followed by a sightseeing tour by van around the island.
At the time of booking, there is a place at checkout to indicate any physical limitations. The tour does have a passenger weight limit of 320 lbs / 145 kg, primarily due to vehicle constraints.
Strollers can be accommodated on either tour; collapsible wheelchairs and walkers only on a private tour (note: neither the tour nor Pearl Harbor provides them though). Non-collapsible or unusually large versions are generally not permitted, unless you are meeting at Pearl Harbor (as a private tour).
Strollers are not permitted for the USS Arizona portion of the tour (the film and boat ride); wheelchairs and walkers are fine. There is a place to leave the stroller during this portion, or you can leave in the van. The Bowfin and parts of the Missouri are not suitable for wheelchairs / strollers / etc. due to stairs and narrow spaces.
In most cases, you will be in a modern Ford Transit passenger van designed for 14 passengers (but max of 12 on the shared tour and often not at full capacity). Comfortable seats, air-conditioned, and large windows. Not a low-ceiling cargo van like some other tour companies. Seating is mostly attached, but individual seats are molded.
If it's a private tour with 6 or less (or in rare cases a smaller shared tour), then you will likely be in a spacious luxury Chevy Suburban SUV or Ford Expedition, both with 2 back rows, unless you upgrade to a larger private tour (7-14 people) for the Transit. Note: most of the tour does not take place in the vehicle; it's just for pickup/dropoff at lodging (if applicable) and for a short drive within Pearl Harbor.
The guide will provide some fast casual options at Pearl Harbor, which is ordered and paid for by the guest. You will have about 20-30 minutes of free time for lunch.
There is no age minimum. However, children under 4 are not allowed on the USS Bowfin submarine; during this time (~30 minutes), the child and parent(s) can enjoy the acclaimed submarine museum (or if a private tour, the submarine could be skipped altogether).
Hawaii law requires children under age 4 to ride in a child safety seat and children ages 4-7 to ride in a child safety seat or a booster seat. You may bring your own, or please select during checkout for the tour to provide ($20, or included with private tour).
Please consider the length of the tour and the historical nature of it in determining whether this tour is a good fit for your child and that your child won't significantly detract from the experience of any other guests (if non-private tour). The guide does make an effort to engage and customize the tour for any children on the tour. However, in general infants are not recommended since it's a long day with a lot of ground covered and quite a bit of sun exposure (reinforced by reflection off the water); if necessary, a private tour is strongly recommended to minimize impact on other tour guests.
The only portion of the tour where the guide will not be with you is for about 1-1.5 hours as you watch a movie about the USS Arizona and take the Navy-operated shuttle boat ride to the Arizona Memorial. Tour guides are prohibited from this portion, which is more focused on somber reflection.
There will also be about 30-45 minutes of free time to get lunch on your own and browse additional exhibits and the gift shop if you'd like.
The first 20-30 minutes will be narrated by a public guide on the deck (required), and then your guide will show you other areas of the ship for the next 60-90 minutes, including leading you through the maze of hallways and rooms in the innards of the ship, and provide additional commentary.
Most likely, but there may be more than one van that goes out on the same day. Therefore, if booking separately, please answer the question at checkout about you being with another party so we can ensure you are on the same van.
Yes, due to strict security measures at Pearl Harbor, which is an active Navy base, Pearl Harbor has a no bag policy. This includes leaving items in the van, since the tour van is used for visiting the USS Missouri in the higher security area of Ford Island and non-permitted items cannot even be stored in the van here.
Specifically, prohibited are any bags that conceal its contents (e.g., purses, backpacks, fanny packs, diaper bags) and glass containers (except baby food jars). Allowed are clutches (with or without straps) and wallets measured no more than 1.5” x 2.25” x 5.5”, clear plastic bags, lightweight plastic shopping bags, and small camera bags. Water bottles / bottled water are permitted, and there are multiple refilling stations and a few places to purchase, as well as water fountains.
If you must bring non-permitted items, they will need to be stored in your own vehicle (if meeting tour at Pearl Harbor) or at the baggage storage facility at Pearl Harbor (fee applies), although this is only allowed on a case-by-case basis for private tours due to logistical issues and should be discussed/approved in advance, such as with the guide's reminder call the night before.
This tour has been optimized to get a full and enriching experience at Pearl Harbor, while also not cutting into evening plans, not risk being overwhelming or exhausting, and keeping the price in check. Nevertheless, if you wish to spend more time at Pearl Harbor on the same day as the tour, such as to visit the small Aviation Museum (with additional admission fee), your options are:
1) Extend your time at Pearl Harbor on your own after the tour. The guide can direct you to the Aviation Museum, and once you're done there, there is a free public shuttle back to the entrance. You can choose to just drive to Pearl Harbor to meet at 9:20 am (free parking) that morning so you can then drive away on your own, or you can still be picked up in the morning and then Uber/Lyft/taxi back to your lodging when you're done (about $25-30 to Waikiki).
2) Return on another day on your own.
3) Book a private tour, which can be extended by 2 hours to include the Aviation Museum, with your private expert guide and admission tickets procured by the tour. The additional cost is $405-580 for the small private (6 or less) or $945-1,190 for the large private (7 or more), depending on the exact number of people. If interested, there is an option at checkout to add. Alternatively, as described in #1 above, private tours can also conclude at Pearl Harbor, and you can proceed to do the Aviation Museum on your own.
The tour operator has been running highly rated private customized tours for groups through high end resorts on Oahu for a decade. Starting in Fall 2018, TravelShack partnered closely with them to develop an optimized standard itinerary and a shared small group tour to allow more people to have a VIP experience at great value, with easy booking through TravelShack. More recently we've also added a private tour option.