Pearl Harbor and Beyond: Honolulu's World War II Sites

USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii Larry Hatcher
On December 7, 1941—Hawaii's historic day of infamy—Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, and the United States entered World War II. Honolulu has a rich history from the war years, and this tour covers the highlights.

For more on what to do during your Hawaiian vacation, pick up a copy of Frommer's Honolulu & Oahu day by day

Photo: USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu, Hawaii
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The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Oahu, Hawaii. Frommers.com Community
This unforgettable memorial is Oahu’s top attraction. On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona, while moored here in Pearl Harbor, was bombed in a Japanese air raid. The 608-foot battleship sank in 9 minutes without firing a shot, taking 1,177 sailors and Marines to their deaths—and catapulting the United States into World War II. Nobody who visits the memorial will ever forget it. The deck of the ship lies 6 feet below the surface of the sea. Oil still oozes slowly up from the Arizona’s engine room and stains the harbor’s calm, blue water; some say the ship still weeps for its lost crew. The memorial is a stark white, 184-foot rectangle that spans the sunken hull of the ship; it was designed by Alfred Pries, a German architect interned on Sand Island during the war. The monument contains the ship’s bell, recovered from the wreckage, and a shrine room with the names of the dead carved in stone.
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The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum brings World War II history to life. Marco Garcia
This is a great opportunity to see what life was like on a submarine. You can go below deck of this famous vessel—nicknamed the “Pearl Harbor Avenger” for its successful attacks on the Japanese—and see how the 80-man crew lived during wartime. The Bowfin Museum has an impressive collection of submarine-related artifacts. The Waterfront Memorial honors submariners lost during World War II.
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Step on the deck where the Japanese surrendered and World War II ended at Pearl Harbor's USS Missouri Memorial. Marco Garcia
On the deck of the USS Missouri, a 58,000-ton battleship, World War II came to an end with the signing of the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. We recommend taking the tour, which begins at the visitor center. Guests are shuttled to Ford Island on military-style buses while listening to a 1940s-style radio program. Once on the ship, guests watch an informational film and are then free to explore on their own or take a guided tour. Highlights of this massive battleship include the forecastle (or fo’c’s’le, in Navy talk), where the 30,000-pound anchors are dropped on 1,080 feet of anchor chain; the 16-inch guns, which can fire a 2,700-pound shell some 23 miles in 50 seconds; and the spot where the Instrument of Surrender was signed as Douglas MacArthur, Chester Nimitz, and “Bull” Halsey looked on.
 
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National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii kenlund
You may know this national cemetery by its nickname, Punchbowl. The Hawaiians called this area Pūowaina, or “hill of sacrifice.” Not only is the cemetery a memorial to 35,000 veterans of wars, but it is also a geological wonder—a former volcanic cone that exploded lava some 150,000 years ago.
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Division Headquarters at the U.S. Army Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii carleeaross
With its broad, palm-lined boulevards and art deco buildings, this old army cavalry post is the largest of its kind still operating outside the continental U.S. today. You can no longer visit the barracks themselves, but the history of Schofield Barracks and the 25th Infantry Division is told in the small Tropic Lightning Museum. Displays range from a 1917 bunker exhibit to a replica of Vietnam’s infamous Cu Chi tunnels. To get on the base, adults will need a photo I.D. Have your rental car agreement for your vehicle ready at the gate to get a free visitor pass.
 
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Frommer's Honolulu & Oahu day by day
For more on what to do on the island, check out Frommer’s Honolulu & Oahu day by dayEasy-to-carry and reliable, the book features full-color photographs, maps (including a foldout one in the back), suggested itineraries tailored to every type of traveler, and recommendations for the best hotels, restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and attractions.
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