What You Need to Know About Visiting Pearl Harbor on Vacation

By October 22, 2018About Hawaii, History, Kolea


One of the most sobering, memorialized events during the WWII conflict is the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today, Pearl Harbor stands as a symbol of sacrifice and the effects of war, making it a popular, yet sobering, tourist spot for people to pay their respects and remember the events that took place there nearly 80 years ago. Many vacationers who stay in our Kolea vacation rentals often inquire about Pearl Harbor and how they can visit for a tour. Though we are located on the Big Island of Hawaii and Pearl Harbor is located on Oahu, there are still several tours that you can take from here if you would like to make that scenic stop part of your ideal vacation experience. To give context and background to Pearl Harbor and the events that transpired there, we wrote this article so that any of our vacationers or families planning a trip to Hawaii can be prepared for their visit.

Short History of the Pearl Harbor Attack

In short, there are several reasons why Pearl Harbor was attacked during World War II, but many have pinpointed the attack due to three main factors. The first is attributed to already existing tensions that had been accumulating over the previous 10 years between Japan and the United States. During the time between WWI and the Great Depression, Japan successfully invaded several territories in China and Russia which was met with opposition by the US. The second reason, in conjunction with the first, was that the US was also trying to curtail Japan’s overall global expansion, more particularly in the Pacific where the US had economic interests. As a result, Japan signed a pact with Germany and Italy (the Axis powers), that if any major nation should attack, each other nation in the Pact would support one another. The last reason we will mention here why Japan bombed Pearl Harbor is because of Pearl Harbor’s strategic placement. The military base served as an opposition to Japan’s overall expansion into the South Pacific, but neutralizing the American threat would greatly help their overall advances to gain more territory. These and many other factors lead to a perfect storm which resulted in the attack on Pearl Harbor, leaving 21 ships damaged or sunk and the loss of 2,471 people, 63 of whom were civilians.

Pearl Harbor Today

Today, Pearl Harbor stands as a monument of fallen soldiers and our honor to them during the troubling time of war, but many recognize that it does not represent hostility toward Japan in any way. About 22% or more of Hawaii’s population consists of citizens of Japanese descent, in fact, demonstrating that the hostility and tensions that existed in 1945 have completely dissipated. According to some reports, Pearl Harbor receives about 5000 visitors every day (more than 1.8 million visitors a year) to pay their respects and remember a grave part of Japanese and American history.

Tours of Pearl Harbor

There are four main Pearl Harbor tours that one can take while vacationing in Hawaii.

  1. WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument: This tour shows several sunken US battleships, including the renowned USS Utah, Oklahoma, and Arizona carriers.
  2. Battleship Missouri Memorial & USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park: These memorials are the last of the intact fleet of battleships where you can actually step aboard surviving ships in either a guided or self-guided tour or see other artifacts from the era in the surrounding park.
  3. Pacific Aviation Museum: This museum pays tribute to the Pacific Aviation Fleet with two hangers full of different planes used during the era.

Making Your Vacation to Hawaii Complete with a Trip to Pearl Harbor

Many of our Kolea vacation property renters will often make a trip to Oahu just to see the amazing sites of Pearl Harbor. While you are planning a relaxing getaway and all the sites you want to see, be sure to check out our Kolea vacation rentals. When you are here, your tropical paradise will feel like home.