5 Best Pearl Harbor Tours From Waikiki

Take a guided tour of the historical Pearl Harbor with one of top rated tours

As one of the most important events in the history of the United States and entire world, it’s easy to see why so many people come to Hawaii each year to check out Pearl Harbor tours.

It’s one of the best ways to learn about what happened the day of and the situations surrounding it, as you aren’t only going to learn from experts on the subject, but will get to see where it took place.

We’ve done the “hard” part for you, finding the tours that are worth spending your time and money on. Let’s get started!

Be sure to see our reviews of Oahu Dinner Cruises and Oahu Snorkel Tours.

Top Pearl Harbor Tours


The 5 Best Rated Pearl Harbor Tours For 2022

  1. Oahu: Pearl Harbor Heroes Full-Day Tour
  2. From Waikiki: Pearl Harbor Premium Tour
  3. Oahu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Highlights Tour
  4. Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour From Waikiki
  5. Pearl Harbor Tour with USS Arizona Memorial From Waikiki

Now lets take a closer look at the Pearl Harbor tours so you can find the right one for you!


Pearl Harbor Tour Reviews

1. Oahu: Pearl Harbor Heroes Full-Day Tour

 Oahu: Pearl Harbor Heroes Full-Day Tour

 

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off (available from selected Waikiki hotels)
  • Duration: 9.5 hours
  • Includes: Driver/guide, Navy-operated boat tour to the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Valor, Audio tour of USS Bowfin, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Guided Tour of USS Missouri Battleship
  • Other: Stand in historic spots in PH, such as the USS Missouri

Let’s start things off on the right foot, with the Oahu: Pearl Harbor Heroes Full-Day Tour. This tour is a very comprehensive one, lasting almost 10 hours! With pickup and drop-off included, you’ll spend the entire time actually learning and exploring.

For one of the most authentic Pearl Harbor tours around, you’ll learn and see much more than anything you could learn from a history book!

Once picked up, you’ll head out and begin your adventure where the guides will share all kinds of interesting stories about the attack and signing of the surrender on the USS Missouri. Here, you’ll get to see some special artifacts from World War II and Pearl Harbor.

Next, you’ll climb onto a Navy vessel that you’ll use to go visit the Arizona Memorial. This 17-acre memorial pays homage to over 1,000 crewmen killed in the attack, when their ship was bombed by the Japanese Navy, and was constructed right over the sunken remains of the USS Arizona.

Head over to the USS Bowfin or “the Pearl Harbor Avenger” submarine and learn all about how important it was in the battle for the Pacific. Afterward, you’ll check out the brand-new Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum which has proven to be quite popular.

  • Here, you’ll receive a guided tour which covers almost 80 years of Pacific aviation history along with more than 50 aircrafts!

Before dropping off at your hotel, you’ll go over to Ford Island naval base where you’ll be taught all about the US Navy and how it’s changed over the years.

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2. Pearl Harbor Premium Tour From Waikiki

Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour From Waikiki

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off (available from selected Waikiki hotels)
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Includes: Roundtrip transportation throughout Waikiki, tour the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, battleship Missouri official guided tour, drive through Punchbowl National Cemetary, breakfast and lunch, unlimited supply of bottled water, exclusive Pearl Harbor souvenir booklet, official Pearl Harbor tote bag
  • Other: Includes downtown Honolulu tour

If you’re into longer tours, give a look at the From Waikiki: Pearl Harbor Premium Tour. This 9-hour tour draws many similarities to the first one, taking you to the Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri. However, in this tour you’ll also drive through Punchbowl National Cemetery and see downtown Honolulu.

With no time to spare, you’ll start off being picked up at your hotel in Waikiki. Meet your guides and board the luxury mini-bus that makes driving around so much more pleasant.

The large windows offer uninterrupted views, while the USB charging ports, LED lights, and air conditioning make it very convenient and comfortable. No need to worry about your phone dying!

During your journey to the points of interest, your guide will narrate, offering a history lesson on important sites along the way.

Start out with a skip-the-line entrance to Pearl Harbor. This in itself is worth it, because depending on the day and time of the year, this place can get pretty busy!

You’ll get to see the USS Arizona Memorial, as well as the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery. Once there, you’ll be able to hear the USS Arizona’s audio guide which is also very informative and interesting. Next, you’ll hop onto a Navy vessel for a boat tour around the memorial.

  • Afterwards, you’ll get to reflect on your experiences while touring through downtown Honolulu in your air-conditioned mini-bus.

The tour makes sure to make stops at important landmarks, such as the King Kamehameha Statue, Kawaiahau Church, and others.

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3. Oahu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Highlights Tour

 Oahu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Highlights Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off (available from selected Waikiki hotels)
  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Includes: Professional guide, fully-narrated tour, all entrance fees
  • Other: Includes Honolulu Historic District tour

If you’re planning on packing in as much as possible in Hawaii, then you may want to go on a shorter tour. If that’s the case for you, then you’ll love the Oahu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Highlights Tour. This 6-hour tour is like a compact version of the other two we’ve just covered, which may also be preferable if you have younger children with you.

Just like with the other tours on our guide, this one also includes a hotel pickup and drop-off. This means that all of those 6 hours are dedicated to traveling between the attractions and actually exploring them.

While you’re in the vehicle, your guide will tell you all about any important sites you pass along the way.

Head by bus to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites Visitor Center. This still-active naval base consists of the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Sub Museum, and Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

Ride the Navy vessel across Pearl Harbor to hop aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, which sits above the resting place of over 1000 soldiers who died in the attacks that day. You’ll then visit the Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific which is meant to honor those who’ve given their lives serving in the US military.

  • You’ll also pass by the Courts of the Missing, which is a striking monument dedicated to over 26,000 sailors, soldiers, and Marines lost in WWII, Vietnam, and the Korean War.

You’ll then head to Honolulu’s historic district for a tour that takes you to ‘Iolani Palace (the only royal palace on US soil), Kawaiahao Church, the State Library and Archives, statue of King Kamehameha, Honolulu Hale, and the Mission Houses Museum.

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4. Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour From Waikiki

Pearl Harbor Premium Tour From Waikiki

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off (available from selected Waikiki hotels)
  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Includes: Professional guide, transportation in a spacious vehicle, entrance to Road to War Museumm, entrance to Attack Museum
  • Other: You get to see King Kamehameha Statue in front of Hawaii Five-0 Headquarters

Next, is the shortest tour on our guide: the Waikiki: Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City Tour. Clocking in at 5 hours, it’s perfect if you already have plans later in your day or simply don’t want to be out for an entire day. With hotel pickup/drop-off included and a skip the ticket line, you’ll make the most of your time exploring.

Once you’re picked up, you’ll head straight to the Pearl Harbor Historic Site, where you’ll learn all about that fateful day and watch a short film that explains the preceding events surrounding the attack.

Next, you’ll get in a Navy vessel and sail over to the USS Arizona memorial. Here, you’ll take a leisurely walk around outside and inside the visitor center along with the museum, itself.

If you want, you can even opt into the optional tour while taking in the Hawaiian rays. The USS Bowfin and battleships are in the harbor, making for some very unique photo-taking experiences.

After your tours, drive to downtown Honolulu where you’ll pass through the business district, Iolani Palace, and Ali’iolani Hale/Hawaii 5-0 Headquarters. Here, you’ll learn about Hawaiian royalty and how the state came to be.

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5. Pearl Harbor Tour with USS Arizona Memorial From Waikiki

Pearl Harbor Tour with USS Arizona Memorial From Waikiki

Tour Highlights:

  • Departure: Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Includes: Arizona tour ticket, visit to WWII Valor in the Pacific, guided tour of Battleship Missouri, movie about the USS Arizona Memorial, access to exhibits
  • Other: Includes boat tour

While you may have found history class boring in school, you’re about to get a whole new take on things on our next tour. The Pearl Harbor Tour with USS Arizona Memorial is an immersive 7-hour tour that will show you first-hand many of the vessels used during the battles, as well as the events surrounding them.

Once you’re picked up from your hotel, you’ll head straight over to the Pacific National Monument.

Here, you’ll see all kinds of exhibits, footage from the Pearl Harbor attack, and much more inside the museum.

Not to mention, there are many other interesting monuments around the park. Next up, you’ll board a Navy vessel and sail over to the USS Arizona Memorial which was constructed over the sunken battleship.

You’ll then head over the Admiral Clarey Bridge and make your way to the USS Oklahoma Memorial on the way to the Battleship Missouri.

  • Once you arrive, you’ll partake in a guided tour of the ship, led by a docent who is an expert in the subject.

The guides are very knowledgeable, not only about WWII and Pearl Harbor, but about Honolulu and Hawaii, in general. We found the entire experience to be very informative – even while traveling between the sites.

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Oahu Travel Guide

best tours of pearl harbor

Getting There

Unless you already live in Hawaii, chances are, you’re going to have to use the Honolulu International Airport (HNL), which is the state’s main airport. Just about every major domestic, along with around 16 international carries serve HNL so it’s quite accessible. In fact, it’s one of the busiest airports in the country!

If you are planning your trip to Oahu, make sure you already are aware of the entry requirements. If you’re a US citizen, you obviously won’t need a visa. For some foreigners, there are visa waivers, so it’s worth checking out.

The cheapest flights are usually in January and September, though generally speaking wintertime is less popular.

Getting Around

Oahu is an island that’s actually one of the easier to get around, largely thanks to the wide variety of transportation options available. You don’t have to rely on renting a car, though this is easy to do from Waikiki or downtown Honolulu. Uber and personal drivers are also available, but be prepared for the more expensive cost.

Oahu has a pretty solid transit system, and for just $2, you can ride the bus. Alternatively, the visitor adult pass offers you 4 days of rides for a mere 20 bucks. Just make sure you’re consistently checking their rider alerts and schedule online.

If you really want to go all-out and are a more adventurous spirit, we highly recommend getting around by moped or motorcycle. This is probably a better option during the warmer months, as when temperatures drop it tends to get a bit windy.

If that’s not your kind of thing, most hotels offer a taxi/limo service. We advise against calling a cab on the street, as it’s not the norm there and isn’t particularly safe.

Where to Stay

Are you someone who likes relaxing and enjoying the pools at a resort? Then you’ll love Waikiki. The large city is right on the beach, so it makes sense why you’d find the biggest hotel brands taking up residency here. The Marriot, Hyatt, etc. are all here so you’re sure to find something familiar.

However, aside from Waikiki, South Oahu, Leeward Waianae, North Shore, and Windward East are all nice places to stay, too.

Waikiki – Not only will you find plenty of resorts, you’ll also find many hotels designed for business travelers with full meeting rooms, business services, etc. here. The vast majority of all stays on Oahu are located in Waikiki for good reason!

The Moana Surfrider, built over 100 years ago, was Hawaii’s first hotel and definitely a must-visit if you’re into history, Victorian elegance, comfort, or some combination of them. However, we feel like The Royal Hawaiian has quite a bit to offer, too. It has been featured in movies since the 60’s, and offers a bit of that Hollywood glamour to this day. They recently renovated their “luxury tower” as well as most rooms.

Keep in mind that both of these hotels are located in tourist-heavy areas and it will be crowded outside. The Laylow hotel is a bit more affordable, looks beautiful, yet is still considered upscale. Oh, and it’s located a bit further off the beach so you’ll not be so overwhelmed with people. However, you absolutely need to check out the Surfjack Hotel  which is a mid-priced boutique resort which really plays homage to that classic 60’s Hawaiian surf culture.

Aside from Waikiki, North Shore is a great area full of vacation homes, charming cottages, along with various comfy B&Bs along the beach. If you’re trying to escape with a significant other or just want something a bit more quiet, North Shore is highly recommended.

Restaurants and Eating Out

Once you land in Oahu, you’re in for a real treat or two. There are countless restaurants and eateries from just about every single country and culture you can imagine! However, you can’t go without trying some traditional Hawaiian food while you’re here.

Speaking of North Shore, it’s here where you’ll find Romy’s Kahuku Prawns & Shrimp which is an absolute life-changer. The family-run business is sure to make you feel at home, but will blow your mind with their savory, flavor-explosion of seafood. Do yourself a favor and grab the butter and garlic shrimp which is their signature dish.

If you’ve never had Hawaiian food before, Helena’s Hawaiian Food is here to make sure you forever start to crave it. Just one bite of their Kalua Pig or Semi-Salty Lomi Salmon and you’ll never be the same! Everything is rich in flavor, but make sure you leave room for their Haupia dessert: a fresh dessert made of coconut, almost like a pudding.

Looking for something fast and tasty to refuel in-between sightseeing? Then head over to Rainbow Drive-In. It’s the closest thing to a Hawaiian burger joint, with plate lunches that include robust macaroni salad, spam and eggs, shoyu chicken, bento boxes, and more! Oh, and if the heat is getting to you, order a slushy float!

We hope you’re a coffee lover, because some of the best coffee in the world is found here. Gorilla in the Café is in the Waikiki shopping district, though Arvo is adorable, the coffee is incredible, and the staff is super friendly. For breakfast, you can’t get better than Koko Head Café: with a former Top Chef as their well, chef! Order the Breakfast Congee and thank us later.

For dinner, you can’t go wrong with Palace Saimin. Open for 75 years, they manage to combine Chinese-style noodles in a Japanese-style dashi broth. Other selections include wonton min, udon, saimin (of course), and more.

Do you want elegance? Then Senia is a prime choice, with confit duck, tapas, pintxos, and much more. Oh, and they have one of the best wine programs in the state! Everything is made with passion and precision, and that’s reflected not only in the food but the atmosphere and décor.

Nightlife and Entertainment

As Oahu is so rich in culture (and tourist-heavy), you can count on a ton of nightlife options to be available to you. While the sunset cruises are a wonderful way to spend part of an evening, there are many other activities to partake in.

Luaus are a very important part of Hawaii, and is a must-do if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture. Not every luau experience is the same, however, so it’s a good idea to research a bit. For example, some last over 5 hours long and are an entire event, complete with feasts and drinks.

Chances are, if you’re visiting Oahu, you’re already someone who appreciates nature. Check out the Moon Walks at Waimea Valley if you want to see what Mother Nature has blessed us with. You’ll pass by various places of worship, botanical gardens, immense greenery, and waterfalls. Not to mention, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about how lunar phases affected the lives of Native Hawaiians.

With a live DJ, local music, food, and drinks, Bar 35 is a great place to stay and dance the night away. It attracts a slightly younger crowd, with large dancefloors and a refreshing patio with ample seating. Buho Cantina is a great place to grab a margarita, delicious Mexican food, and relax in the flirtatious downlighting.

For award-winning microbeer and open-air environments, we recommend trying out The Beach House. You’ll be treated to live music and a generally positive, fun vibe.

Weather

As we’ve previously mentioned, you can feasibly go to Oahu any time of year and still have a great time. It’s not, for example, New York City, that tends to have hot and humid summers and frigid winters. Everything is pretty calm, though the best time is from mid-April to early June.

Alternatively, anytime between September and mid-December are good too. Just remember that when you really get close to Christmas and New Year’s, crowds are going to thicken and ticket/hotel room prices are going to increase.

Out of all the main Hawaiian islands, Oahu is the driest in terms of weather conditions. That means that it’s rare not to have sunshine and a slight sea breeze. You can plan on bringing your best “great weather” clothes, along with a jacket just in case. You don’t have to worry much about it raining, though if there are showers, they’re not likely to last long.

Attractions

As we’ve talked about a few times already throughout our guide, Diamond Head is absolutely a landmark you can’t miss. The volcanic cone is the most popular of the state parks here, and is called such because British sailors in the 1800’s thought they had discovered diamonds! Hiking to the top is definitely tiring, but once you get to the summit you’ll realize it’s more than worth it!

A lot of people head to Hawaii for the beautiful beaches and great drinks/food, and that’s perfectly fine. However, we feel you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience Polynesian culture a bit more. The Polynesian Cultural Center has you covered, which is even referred to as the Disney World experience of Hawaii! With all kinds of shows and entertainment, it’s a good idea to plan to be here all day.

If you’re staying in Waikiki, there is also a lot of stuff to do here. Plan on a lot of it being tourist traps, gift shops, and such. However, there are some great upscale shopping centers and an array of towers, rooftop bars, top-notch culinary spots, and white sand beaches aplenty.

Do you know how to swim? Then why not try to learn how to surf right in the spot where it was invented? You can count on learning from the absolute best, and your instructor will take you to areas where there are gentle waves. If you feel confident enough, you may even be able to paddle out into the more intense surf!

If you enjoy being in the water while not falling off a board, there’s always incredible snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. If the crystal-clear turquoise waters don’t attract you, the over 300 species of marine life are sure to! As it is a sanctuary and the top priority is protecting the beings who reside here, only 3000 visitors are allowed to visit per day.

No matter who you are, a trip to Pearl Harbor is sure to move you. In fact, it boasts almost 2 million visitors per year due to its tragic history. The WWII USS Bowfin Sub and the USS Battleship Missouri are both anchored in the bay and you may even be able to board them!

Tips

First, if you’re going to surf, we recommend doing so at sunset. The view is just incredible, the sun isn’t too strong, and there aren’t quite as many people out. Why not stay on the beach for dinner, too? The cool thing about Oahu is that everything is practically right on the beach.

Go and grab a bite to eat and have a picnic right there! You don’t have to fight for a reservation or a seat, and you have the best view in the house!

Kalakaua Avenue is like the main touris street which winds through the center of Waikiki. It is full of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops but these tend to be more expensive for that reason. It is very crowded during the daytime and at night you’ll get to enjoy street performers and live music. It is definitely entertaining, but can be a little annoying if you dislike crowds.

Kuhio Avenue is a great alternative to Kalakaua and runs parallel to it and just a block away. You’ll immediately notice a large price difference in everything! Monsarrat or Kapahulu Avenues may be even better, and is more of a local hotspot instead of a tourist hotspot. Everything is yummy, and the prices are even more attractive.

You may have noticed that one of the tours on our guide mentioned a BYOB structure. As it’s notoriously hard for businesses here to get a liquor license, many just opt for a BYOB approach. Instead of spending almost 20 bucks on a simple cocktail, you can stop at a grocery store, pick up some beer or a bottle of wine, and the restaurant will happily let your drink your own drinks. Many places are cool enough that they’ll even store it in their fridge for you!

 

Olivia Watson

Olivia is a world traveler who has been to 27 countries in just over 15 years. She loves to share her knowledge of traveling to help others travel safer, cheaper and have more fun.
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