Not everyone relishes the idea of getting up at the crack of dawn, no matter how good the reason may be. Even if it’s an opportunity to explore an important piece of American history, the notion of waking up—while on vacation, no less—to catch a 6:00 AM tour is just not their cup of tea. Lots of visiting night owls prefer to spend their Hawaiian evenings at a luau or enjoying the late-night action at some of Honolulu’s favorite hot spots, even if it means getting started on the following morning’s activities a little late.
Because there’s so much to see and do there, Pearl Harbor tends to be an early-morning destination. Most organized tours to the important Oahu site start shortly after sunrise, so guests have more time to explore the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the additional historic sites.
If that doesn’t convince you to set the alarm clock, however, there are a few options that let you start your day a little later without sacrificing your ability to visit Pearl Harbor. We offer two different tours with an option for later start times; which one is best for you is simply a matter of what you want get out of your Pearl Harbor trip.
Pearl Harbor & Honolulu City Tour
Latest Start Time: 10:00 AM
The Pearl Harbor & Honolulu City tour takes you to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, which gives you access to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the exhibit galleries with artifacts, photos, and videos. The Visitor Center is the hub of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, with information about the harrowing events of December 7, 1941 scattered throughout.
After exploring the Visitor Center, you direct your attention to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater, to the left of the main entrance. Here you start your USS Arizona Memorial program with a 23-minute documentary film about the attack on Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. Following the screening, you board a US Navy shuttle boat across the harbor to the the site of Battleship Row and the USS Arizona Memorial, conditions permitting.
Time aboard the memorial is solemn and serene as visitors pay their respects to the 1,177 Arizona crewmen who died when their ship exploded and sank during the Japanese attack. From the memorial wall etched with the names of men lost to the rusting remains of the battleship resting below, there is a lot to take in.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and USS Arizona Memorial program are the main attractions of this tour, but you’ll be able to see the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park’s outdoor displays, and the Battleship Missouri in the distance.
As the name indicates, there’s more to this tour than a visit to Pearl Harbor, and when you return to the tour vehicle, your next destination is into the heart of Honolulu. Get a glimpse of history as you drive through the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, pass by the ‘Iolani Palace and Hawaii State Capitol, and make a stop at the iconic King Kamehameha Statue. Expect to hear plenty about the history of the Hawaiian Islands as you explore historic downtown Honolulu.
Private Pearl Harbor Tour
Latest Start Time: 10:30 AM
On typical Pearl Harbor tours, you spend your day with other people who chose the same tour you did. But did you know that you have the option of sharing your Pearl Harbor experience with just your own group? There are multiple times available for the Private Pearl Harbor Tour, but a 10:30 AM start gives you the chance to enjoy your night and sleep in just a bit before being picked up by your own guide in a small private tour vehicle.There’s nothing quite like having your own private driver/guide to make you feel like a VIP on your Hawaiian vacation!
Unlike the Pearl Harbor & Honolulu City Tour, the private tour includes a visit to the Battleship Missouri and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. Of course, the tour also includes the USS Arizona Memorial program and time at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Your private group tour can include anywhere from 1 to 13 guests.
Passport to Pearl Harbor
We said there were two tours that let you have a later start time to visit the Pearl Harbor sites, but there is actually one additional option. The Passport to Pearl Harbor isn’t a tour. With the Passport, you get access to all of the sites at Pearl Harbor without transportation or a guide. The Passport to Pearl Harbor also doesn’t guarantee access to the USS Arizona Memorial program, as those tickets are distributed separately on a first come, first served basis.
The benefit of this option is that you can arrive at Pearl Harbor any time during normal operating hours between 7 AM and 5 PM. Of course, you want to make sure to give yourself enough time to explore the sites, including the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Battleship Missouri, USS Oklahoma Memorial, and Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center.