The husband and I decided to stop over for a day in Honolulu to visit Pearl Harbor before heading on to the Big Island. Until we landed there, we didn’t realize that Honolulu would be a crowded, bustling city with traffic jams…..a far cry from the relaxed, quiet island we envisioned.
Here is a snippet of what we saw and experienced…..
12: 00 PM
We land at Honolulu and are greeted by a seething, raging mass of tourists. There is a queue for everything and so make sure that you add in an extra 1 hour to your trip planning to account for this.
Renting a Car:
It took us an hour to get our pre-booked rental from Advantage.
After waiting for 20 minutes in the queue, the good folks at Advantage make an announcement,
” We are experiencing a busy day. You are free to cancel and go to our competitor”
We finally get our car and drive at top speed to Pearl Harbor to see if we can snag last minute tickets to the last tour of the day.
It takes us 15 minutes to reach Pearl Harbor and we are thrilled to get tickets to the 2:45 tour!
The most popular historical site at Pearl Harbor is the the USS Arizona Memorial.
This marks the resting place of the ~1000 sailors and marines killed on the USS Arizona during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, people of European and Japanese origin in the US, who were suspected of being spies, were rounded up and sent to internment camps. This included Alfred Preis, an Austrian born architect, and his wife Jana Preis who had left Nazi occupied Austria to build themselves a new life in America.
In a strange twist of fate, Alfred Preis was later chosen to design the USS Arizona Memorial. This remains his most enduring work of art today.
In the words of Preis’ grandson, “the sunken architecture in the center symbolizes initial defeat, but the raised ends represent ultimate triumph, for both America and for my grandfather as well.”
Getting tickets to Pearl Harbor:
Tickets to Pearl Harbor are free but are hard to come by!
1.Book 2 months in advance:If you are an early bird and have planned this trip well in advance, you can book your tickets here Or
Call the call center at: 1-877-444-6777 from 7AM Hawaii Standard Time
2. Book 24 hours before the visit: The park releases additional tickets for the next day at 7:00 AM Hawaii Standard Time. You can find these here
3. Walk in Tickets: The National Park Service gives out 1,300 FREE walk-in tickets daily, on a first come, first served basis. Doors open at 7:00 AM Hawaii Standard Time.Visitors start queuing here from 6AM! So make sure you come here early if you plan to get these tickets.
4. Last Minute or No-Show Tickets: If you are desperate to visit Pearl Harbor and still haven’t managed to lay hands on a ticket, you can walk in to the ticket counter and check if there are any no-shows or cancellations that have opened up a spot in the next tour.
We walked in at 2:30 PM and snagged 2 tickets because of no-shows for the 2:45 tour.
The USS Arizona Memorial: What to Expect
It takes about 1 hour to complete just the USS Arizona Memorial tour.
The tour begins with a 30 minute documentary that describes the conflict between Japan and the US and the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Next, is a 10 minute boat ride to the Memorial.
It takes about 30 minutes to explore the Memorial and then catch the next boat ride back.
We highly recommend paying $7 and getting the narrated audio tour.
(The audio tour is narrated by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of actor and Pacific War veteran Tony Curtis. The audio tour provides narration throughout the visitor center, interpretive exhibit galleries, and waterfront interpretive displays, in addition to providing interpretive information on the shuttle boats and on the memorial. Featuring guest narration by actual Pearl Harbor Survivors and National Park Service Historian Daniel Martinez, the audio tour is recommended for all visitors. – Pearl Harbor Website)
After wandering around the visitor center and the exhibits, we are reminded by our rumbling tummies that we haven’t had lunch.
We decide to get some grub before driving to Waikiki.
After navigating through some unbelievable traffic jams and road rage in Waikiki, we are relieved to reach the cool confines of our room.
The husband and I decided to walk down Kuhio avenue and check out the vibe. After concluding that Matcha ice-cream didn’t please our palates, we wound up back at our hotel lobby and had some pretty amazing drinks at the Hideout!
Next day, 7AM
We are still on Central Standard Time and decide to try some udon noodles at Marukame Udon
This is the best place to eat on Kuhio Avenue and by mid-morning there is a long queue just to get in.
This is cafeteria style – you order a bowl of freshly made udon at the front and pick up your sides before finding a place to sit.
The hot bowls of Udon definitely hit the spot!
8AM – 11AM
We take a walk on Waikiki beach, stroll around, look at the shops.
Splash in the hotel pool.
And then head to the airport to catch our flight to Hilo
Hawaii Airlines Inter-Island Flights:
Because of the numerous flights servicing different islands, Hawaii Airlines has a separate terminal at the Honolulu Airport.
Arrive atleast 1.5 hours before your flight. This terminal is complete mayhem.
We just about made it on to our flight to Hilo!