During our stay at Aulani on Oahu, Hawaii we took some days to get out and explore the island. Top of our list of things to do was a visit to one of the most famous landmarks on Oahu, Pearl Harbor. Both Mark and I had wanted to visit there for a long time and we like to make sure the kids learn a bit about the history of each place we visit.
The Visitor Centre is open 7 days a week and they give out 1,300 free tickets every morning, but we opted to buy ours in advance so that we were guaranteed to get in. Our tickets gave us entry to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, the Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
The USS Bowfin was fascinating. I had never been on a submarine before and I tend to get a bit claustrophobic so I was very nervous before boarding, but there was so much to see that I soon forgot my nerves. We had audio guides to listen to as we toured and we learnt so much about what took place in each part of the vessel. It was pretty crazy to see how the sailors lived in such cramped quarters and often without air conditioning as the fans would have been heard by the Japanese listening boats. It was so hot on the day we were there so it gave us an idea of how uncomfortable they must have been.
Our tickets gave us an allotted time to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. We were shown into a theatre first to watch a short video about what had happened on December 7th, 1941. It was very moving and certainly brought home just how poignant the Memorial is. After the video a boat took us across to the Memorial, approximately a 5 minute boat ride away. The Memorial is tethered across the top of the USS Arizona which lies exactly where it was bombed, with all of it’s deceased crew still onboard. Parts of the USS Arizona sit above the water and on clear days it is possible to see quite a lot of the outline of the ship. Inside the Memorial are the names of all those who lost their lives onboard the USS Arizona.
A short coach ride (included with our ticket) took us onto Ford Island and to the colossal Battleship Missouri. Words cannot describe just how huge this ship is! It’s size is formidable. We opted for a self-guided tour and spent a couple of hours wandering around the ship. There is a lot to see onboard and many areas of the ship are open to the public. We were able to see where the crew would have slept and eaten, the kitchens, the Officer’s rooms, the rest area and part of the Bridge, plus lots more. One of the most interesting parts of the Battleship Missouri was seeing the exact spot where the Japanese surrendered in World War 2.
The last stop of the day was the Pacific Aviation Museum, where we were able to see a variety of American war planes. The museum is a lot more relaxed than many of the UK museums we have been to and we were able to get quite close to a lot of the planes – some of them were huge!
We had a full day at Pearl Harbor and left as the gates closed. It was worth every penny of the ticket cost and we were all so pleased that we had visited. I had been worried that the children would be bored but they enjoyed themselves and said that they found it very interesting.
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