The USS Arizona Memorial, part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument that recognizes the stories of the Pacific War, is one of the top attractions in Hawaii and arguably the most popular tourist spot on Oahu. Its significance cannot be understated, as it serves as a memorial for the “date which will live in infamy” that pushed the United States into World War II. And because it’s such a popular destination for visitors, there are more than a few things you should keep in mind before arriving to ensure your visit is as pleasant as possible.
Here are five things you should know before visiting the USS Arizona Memorial:
1.) Expect a long wait if it’s a busy day.
Summers are the worse, when streams of tour buses come flooding in with travelers from around the world. You’ll be competing with all of these folks for a seat on the boats if you should happen to visit during the peak season. Waiting almost two hours or more isn’t uncommon, and I’ve devoted half a day to the Arizona Memorial in the past. There is a small museum, a gift shop and a snack store to keep you busy in the meantime. The grounds are also beautiful, perfect for picnics with the family. During slower seasons, the wait can be under an hour after simply showing up.
2.) You cannot bring purses or bags onto the premises.
So don’t even try. Keep your valuables locked in your trunk before you arrive, as thieves often prey on innocent travelers. And while security patrols scout the premises by bike, it’s better to keep any valuables out of sight.
3.) Tickets for the Arizona Memorial are first come, first served and cannot be reserved.
There are only two ways to ensure a spot on the boats: show up early or book an expensive tour. Even the Arizona Memorial tour on Recreation.gov costs $50. This, however, gets you a guided tour as well. If you’re just looking to simply visit, you’ll have to show up like everybody else and wait for your allotted time.
4.) Arriving later doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get onto the Arizona Memorial.
On my last visit, we arrived at 1pm on a Thursday. It was relatively empty and we only had to wait less than an hour to watch the film and board the boat. It wasn’t even enough time for us to finish the museum portion of the site. Granted, this was in mid-December, so it wasn’t exactly tourist season. Just keep in mind that the last boat departs at 2:45pm (hours vary by season).
5.) There are no restrooms on the Arizona Memorial, and the entire experience lasts 75 minutes.
But there are plenty of restrooms on land, so pee while you can.