USS Arizona Memorial

Top choice museum in Pearl Harbor

Image by Dana Edmunds Getty Images

One of the USA's most significant WWII sites, this somber monument commemorates the Pearl Harbor attack and its fallen service members with an offshore shrine reachable by boat.

The USS Arizona Memorial was built over the midsection of the sunken USS Arizona, with deliberate geometry to represent initial defeat, ultimate victory and eternal serenity. In the furthest of three chambers inside the shrine, the names of crewmen killed in the attack are engraved onto a marble wall. In the central section are cutaways that allow visitors to see the skeletal remains of the ship, which even now oozes about a quart of oil each day into the ocean. In its rush to recover from the attack and prepare for war, the US Navy exercised its option to leave the servicemen inside the sunken ship; they remain entombed in its hull, buried at sea.

Free boat tours to the shrine depart every 15 minutes from 7:30am until 3pm (weather permitting). The 75-minute tour program includes a 23-minute documentary film about the attack. You can make reservations for the tour online at up to 60 days before your visit. You can also try to secure tickets on the website the day before your visit beginning at 7am Hawaii time – but these are very limited. First-come, first-served tickets are available in person on the day of your visit at the visitor center's Aloha Court, but during peak season when more than 4000 people take the tour daily, the entire day's allotment of tickets is often gone by 10am and waits of a few hours are not uncommon, so arrive early, or better yet: reserve in advance.