Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial from Kauai, you say? Yes, I didn’t realize day trip tours of the historical monument are available until something caught my eye on Facebook. Most people visit the memorial when they are on the island of Oahu. But, what if you don’t want to stay on Oahu and still want to visit the USS Arizona Memorial? You may plan a side trip on your own or let someone else plan the adventure for you. It is a long day, but the experience may well be worth it.
I visited the USS Memorial on my first trip to Hawaii in 1980. It is a powerful and moving experience. Accessible only by boat, you are taken out to the actual site of the sunken battleship in Pearl Harbor. The monument, which is built directly over the ship, marks the resting place of 1,177 sailors and Marines who died when the battleship was bombed on December 7, 1941, about 15 minutes into the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Over 900 bodies could not be recovered from the ship and remain on board.
If your flight has a layover in Honolulu, you may want to book an extra night on the island and visit the monument on your own or with a local tour group. If your vacation plans do not include Oahu then booking a day tour from Kauai might be something to look into, especially if historical sites are of interest to you.
There are several companies offering this trip. I do not have personal experience with any of them so it would be best to see what they have to offer and compare their prices. Here are three that I found. Each website has more detailed information about the trip:
$479.99 (13 hour day trip)
Includes flights, admission and expert guides. Add $10 and get a 45 minute Honolulu City Tour.
$444.26 (13 hour day trip)
This off island fly away day tour to Oahu will take you on a journey through history from the site of the attack on Pearl Harbor to the signing of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri. Visit the Statue of King Kamehameha, Honolulu Hale & Missions House Museum & finally honor the heros at Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific and Court of the missing.
$413.99 (13 hour day trip)
Visit all four Pearl harbor historical sites – the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri, the Bowfin Submarine and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
If you choose to go to the USS Arizona Memorial on your own, here are a few important things to remember:
- The visitor center is open seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1.
- Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial is free, because it is an active American military cemetery. No National Park Pass is required, and no discounts are given, because there is no charge. Entrance to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and its museums is also free. However, visitors will need to get a free timed ticket to see the memorial.
- You can go to the visitor center for walk-in tickets on the day of your visit, or you can reserve tickets on www.recreation.gov, which is the ONLY official site to reserve USS Arizona tickets.
- Although the monument receives an average of 4,000-5,000 visitors per day, most are not walk-in. They are coming with prearranged reservations as part of a school group, tour group, military unit, or other group, or they have reserved individual tickets online. Walk-in tickets are first come, first serve so there may be quite a line during busy times of the year.
- Reserve tickets are separate from the 1,300 walk-in tickets handed out every day. Reserve ticket availability starts at 11:00 a.m. There are no early morning tickets available to reserve, as those tickets are kept for walk-in visitors. There is a reservation limit of 12 tickets per person per day.
- Arrive an hour before your ticket time to pick up your tickets, see the harbor area, and tour two museums before your program. At a minimum, arrive five to ten minutes before your program to be sure you can enter the theater. If you are not there by your program time and they are out of walk-in tickets, your seats may be given away to visitors on standby.
For more Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, go to https://www.nps.gov/valr/faqs.htm
Whether you go on your own or book a tour, consider visiting the USS Arizona Memorial when planning your next trip to the islands.
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