If you’re a history buff (or even if you’re not), visiting Pearl Harbor is a must-do while in Oahu. The bombing of Pearl Harbor is one of the most significant moments in WWII history, and you’ll feel a sense of reverence as you visit the site. It is free to stroll around Pearl Harbor and get tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial, however it’s much trickier to get tickets than simply walking up on the day of. Keep in mind that the free ticket is only for the USS Arizona Memorial, and not the other memorials onsite (which cost extra).
Please be aware the USS Arizona Memorial is currently closed for repairs but the boat tours to it are still running. You will learn the history and see the site of the ship’s sinking up close, but you can’t step onto the memorial at this time (posted August 2019).
There are three ways to get free tickets:
1. Show up at the gate before 7 a.m. Each day, 1,300 day-of tickets are released at 7 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis to those in line in person. This can be hard if you’re not staying near Pearl Harbor.
2. Book the day before online. Each day, a limited number of tickets are released at 7 a.m. online at www.recreation.gov for the next day. (You will have to pay a $1.50 service charge per ticket, though.)
3. Book online two months in advance. This is the best option so you don’t have to stress about not getting a ticket once you’re there. Exactly two months prior to the day you want to visit, head to www.recreation.gov to book your tickets. They do sell out quickly though, so set a reminder and log on as early as possible.
If all these options fail, there is a fourth option–but it will cost. Several individuals and tour companies (like Pearl Harbor Tours and Blue Hawaii) offer guided tours of Pearl Harbor and will arrange tickets. However, these tours can range anywhere from $100-$700, depending on group size, transportation required, and attractions visited. It’s best to plan in advance and try to get a free ticket!
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