It starts with a figurative step back in time. Arriving through the main entrance of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, you come first to the Aloha Court. As the name implies, this is where you start your journey back to the 1940s.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is your first stop on your trek across the decades. While Pearl Harbor has developed over the years, some of it is still frozen in 1941. The USS Arizona lies serenely where she was sunk more than 75 years ago. On the other side of Ford Island, the USS Utah also remains where she was left after the Pearl Harbor attack.
There is much to see at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Laid out before you are three main areas, each one taking you to a different facet of the Pearl Harbor attack and the war into which the nation was dragged as a result. Which direction you go determines what part of history you explore first.
The Remembrance Circle
Straight ahead from the entrance, beyond the ticketing and audio tour booth, stands the anchor of the USS Arizona. Though the battleship rests on the bottom of the harbor, some pieces, like her anchor, are displayed in different places across the nation. Flanking the anchor down a serene walkway is the Remembrance Circle, dedicated to those who were lost during the December 7, 1941 attack, and the Waterfront Memorial, dedicated to submarine warfare during World War II.
The Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
To the right lies the Bowfin submarine, the centerpiece of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. A large collection of submarine artifacts is found within the museum, and the submarine itself is open for public exploration.
Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater
On the opposite end of the Visitor Center, to the left of the Remembrance Circle, is the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater. Before sitting down to watch the 23-minute documentary about the attack presented in the theater, be sure to check out the two galleries found just behind it. “Road to War” and “Attack” cover different aspects of the Pearl Harbor attack, with one focusing on the tensions that led up to it, and the other focusing on the attack itself.
At the exit from the theater is where you catch a US Navy shuttle boat to the USS Arizona Memorial – the primary focus of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.
Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to explore all there is to see at this amazing place!