Pearl Harbor National Memorial#2 in Best Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu
Located northwest of downtown Honolulu in the Central Oahu region of the island, the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is the final resting place of 1,177 sailors killed during the Pearl Harbor attack. The sunken battleship is still visible from the memorial floating above it.
You can expect a long wait time and plenty of people at this attraction, but visitors almost unanimously agree that the experience is more than worth it. For fewer headaches when visiting, travelers recommend arriving before 7 a.m. if you plan on getting a walk-up ticket (only 1,300 are distributed per day on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7 a.m.). You can also reserve one up to 60 days in advance on the monument's ticket portal. Note: Both kinds of timed passes are free, but a $1 service fee applies for tickets acquired online.
Tours of the USS Arizona Memorial – which are available between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily – include a documentary about the ship, a 15-minute visit to the memorial and boat rides to and from the site. For $7.50, you can also opt for a one-hour audio tour that offers a more in-depth look at the attack on Pearl Harbor.
On-site facilities include a free parking lot, a bookstore, a theater, restrooms and several indoor and outdoor exhibits. There's also a visitor center, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Only clear see-through bags are permitted inside the monument's buildings; if you do not have a clear bag with you, you may leave your bag in the property's storage area for $5. To get to the monument, plan on driving, taking the bus or hopping on Waikiki Trolley's Purple Line. Visit the National Park Service's website for additional information or take a look at our tips for visiting.
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#1 Waikiki Beach
Nineteenth-century Hawaiian royalty used to come to the Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki to relax and surf, just as scores of tourists do today. That's because this area's famous beach (which is a string of several beaches dotting the island's southwest coastline) is the go-to spot for its soft, honey-colored sand and the high waves that lap the shores during the winter months. But you don't have to be a surfer to appreciate Waikiki Beach; just lie back on a beach towel, relax and gaze up at the majestic Diamond Head State Monument in the distance.
When you need a break from the beach itself, there are scores of shops and restaurants lining the adjacent Kalakaua Avenue. The street is home to some of the world's most exclusive (read: expensive) designer boutiques, including Cartier, Coach, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Many of the best Oahu hotels also overlook Waikiki Beach.
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