USS Arizona Memorial

Top choice Museum

in Pearl Harbor
Image by Dana Edmunds / Getty Images
Image by Dana Edmunds / Getty Images

This somber memorial is one of the USA's most significant WWII sites, commemorating the Pearl Harbor attack and its fallen service members with an iconic offshore monument reachable by boat.

The 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 over 900 servicemen inside the sunken ship; they remain entombed in its hull.

Free boat tours to the shrine depart every 15 minutes from 7:30am until 3pm (weather permitting) from the NPS Visitor Center & Museum. The 75-minute tour program includes a 23-minute documentary film about the attack. You can make reservations for the tour online at www.recreation.gov 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. Some 1300 tickets are available in person on the day of your visit at the visitor center's Aloha Court. However, during peak seasons (summer and Christmas), 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.

Note that private tours of the memorial only pass by on boats and don't dock.