On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona, while moored here in Pearl Harbor, was bombed in a Japanese air raid. The 608-foot battleship sank in 9 minutes without firing a shot, taking 1,177 sailors and Marines to their deaths -- and catapulting the United States into World War II.
Nobody who visits the memorial will ever forget it. The deck of the ship lies 6 feet below the surface of the sea. Oil still oozes slowly up from the Arizona's engine room to stain the harbor's calm, blue water; some say the ship still weeps for its lost crew. The memorial is a stark, white, 184-foot rectangle that spans the sunken hull of the ship; it was designed by Alfred Pries, a German architect interned on Sand Island during the war. It contains the ship's bell, recovered from the wreckage, and a shrine room with the names of the dead carved in stone.
Try to arrive at the visitor center, operated by the National Park Service, no later than 1:30pm to avoid the huge crowds; waits of 1 to 3 hours are common, and they don't take reservations at this time. While you're waiting for the free launch (operated by the U.S. Navy) to take you out to the ship -- get the audio tour. This will make the trip even more meaningful. The tour (on an MP3 player), which runs about 2 1/2 hours, is like having your own personal park ranger as your guide; the $5 fee is worth every nickel. Narrated by Ernest Borgnine, it features stories told by actual Pearl Harbor survivors, both American and Japanese -- not to be missed! Plus, while you are waiting for the boat, the tour guides you step by step through the museum's personal mementos, photographs, and historic documents. You can pause the recording for the moving 20-minute film which precedes your journey to the ship. The tour continues on the launch, describing the shore line and the memorial itself and continues at the site, giving you a clear picture of that fateful day; it continues through your boat ride back. Allow a total of at least 4 hours for your visit.
Due to increased security measures, visitors cannot carry on purses, handbags, fanny packs, backpacks, camera bags (but you can carry your camera or video camera with you), diaper bags, or other items that offer concealment. However, there is a storage facility to store carry-on-size items (no bigger than 30X30X18 in.), for a fee. Also, you must wear closed-toed shoes; no sandals allowed.
Parents: Note that baby strollers, baby carriages, and baby backpacks are not allowed in the theater, on the boat, or on the USS Arizona Memorial. All babies must be carried. One last note: Most unfortunately, the USS Arizona Memorial is a high-theft area -- leave your valuables in your hotel safe.
- © Frommer's 2013
Ask a local about USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl HarborLocals have answered 29 questions about Honolulu.
Ask Honolulu Locals about USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
- Very Highly Recommended 2010