If you and your family are visiting the island of Oahu, then you must make a stop at Pearl Harbor, but visiting Pearl Harbor with children can be a daunting excursion, especially if you have children younger than five years old.
Some parents worry that Pearl Harbor will be boring for their children or its historic significance will be lost on them, but visiting Pearl Harbor with children can actually be both fun and educational. Follow these great tips and ensure that every member of your family gets something out of the visit.
Talk about visiting Pearl Harbor before you go
Depending on how old your children are, this may be their first exposure to Pearl Harbor and maybe even World War II history. To get them excited about seeing the harbor and help them understand why it matters, you should talk about the visit and what you’ll be doing at the harbor.
You may want to pick up or download a children’s book or two to help you open up the discussion in a fun yet informative way. Try Pearl Harbor: Ready to Read Level 3 – an excellent choice for 6-year-olds and younger. The book begins with the Great Depression and explains how the U.S. wanted to stay out of the war. Though it doesn’t provide a detailed account of the attack, it helps children comprehend the severity without disturbing them.
For older children, you might try Early Sunday Morning: The Pearl Harbor Diary of Amber Billows. The book in the Dear America series depicts the events and the impact of Pearl Harbor on civilians – a great choice for an older reader who hasn’t covered Pearl Harbor in school just yet.
Remember, there is a lot to see when visiting Pearl Harbor with children, so be sure to talk about visiting real-life battleships and submarines. Explain that Pearl Harbor is a quiet place, and you will get to watch a short movie and take a boat ride. This may help you child understand what behavior is expected of him or her.
Book a tour ahead of time
Tours are a great way to keep your children engaged and interested while visiting Pearl Harbor. They provide a sense of structure, and they keep the tour moving swiftly from one part to the next.
As there is so much to see at Pearl Harbor, it’s vital that you book your tour ahead of time and make all arrangements. This way, you’ll guarantee that your family has a plan and everyone will be able to see something they want. Not all tours are exactly the same, so if you want to be sure that you’re on the tour you want, be sure to book far enough in advance.
Planning ahead will also help get your kids involved. They’ll already have an idea of the cool ships and submarines they’re going to visit, and even if they’re young, they’ll be more apt to enjoy the tour. This will also help you avoid places where your children have no interest at all. Museums can be difficult for children who cannot read well yet so you may want to skip the Pacific Aviation Museum for now.
If you are visiting Pearl Harbor with young children (4-years-old and younger), have expectations and plan to see what you really wanted to see first. Very few children could tolerate a 5-hour tour so set lower expectations and see how your children respond. If they’re enjoying themselves, continue your tour. If not, then you will at least see what you were most fascinated with.
Be ready for anything
When visiting Pearl Harbor with children, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make the trip more enjoyable:
- “No bag” policy: You cannot bring large bags to Pearl Harbor. Pack light before you go.
- Use sunscreen and wear hats: No one wants a sunburn on vacation, so make sure your whole family put on sunscreen before you leave for your tour. Wear hats for additional coverage.
- Wear comfy shoes: Blisters make for terrible souvenirs. Make sure everyone is wearing sneakers. You will do some walking.
Follow these tips and make your children’s visit to Pearl Harbor a memorable one. Share with us: which site is your child most excited to see?