Located to the west of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, the famous Pearl Harbor stands as a remnant of the event that led the United States’ entry into World War II. Headquarters of the US Pacific Fleet, the harbor has land approximating to 4000 hectares, alongside numerous anchorages. Depictive of a history tainted by blood and sacrifice, it is surprising to think that Pearl Harbor was once locally known as ‘Wai Momi’, that is, the waters of pearl. This was due to the existence of pearl oysters growing in and around the harbor a long time ago.
Earlier, in the 19th century, Pearl Harbor was seldom used. It had a narrow entrance, which meant the inability of the passing of large ships. Therefore, it wasn’t until 1899, after the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown, that the United States established a base in the harbor. Never could the Americans have imagined that a harbor once known for its pearl oysters, could become an area glowing with the attributes of war.
Pearl Harbor is at a distance of 4000 miles from Japan, and about 2000 miles from the mainland of the United States. On 7th December 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the harbor, resulting in major damages to a number of planes, naval vessels, and battleships. Alongside incurring the death of 2400 American civilians, with about 1000 more wounded – leading to a day that would be grieved for years to come.
In the late 1930s, the US and China were on good terms concerning trade and foreign policy. With the US allying with China, aggression against China by Japan meant the U.S would also have to respond rashly to Japanese behavior. Japan declared war on China in 1937, as an aftermath of its belief that the only way to escape their economic worries was by taking over the Chinese import market. Consequently, the U.S levied economic sanctions and trade embargoes with Japan, worsening their relationship. Japan figured that a way to handicap U.S.A would be to destroy their pacific fleet, which ensured they couldn’t fight back. U.S.A and Japan were on the brink of war earlier, but this attack led to its commencement.
The attack was not clearly foreseen by American authorities, who thought the Japanese would attack somewhere far from home and in the South Pacific; somewhere like Singapore. This meant that Pearl Harbor was not only less defended, but also became an easy target for the Japanese – which they intended to use to their advantage. If you’re already on Oahu, you can get Pearl Harbor Tickets here.
On 7th December 1941, the sky above Pearl Harbor filled with Japanese vessels. Bullets and bombs were bombarded on the ground below. Torpedoes were fired on the USS Oklahoma, killing 400 sailors on board. A perfectly guided missile struck the USS Arizona resulting in the deaths of 1000 men, as the mighty Arizona could not withstand the impact of the 1800-pound bomb.
Eight battleships, 300 airplanes, and 20 naval vessels were destroyed in the attack, along with thousands of lives taken. Post-attack, the majority of the American population, and leaders alike agreed to the entry of the U.S.A in World War 2.
Depictive of a history tainted by blood and sacrifices, it is no surprise that Pearl Harbor has since then been a location of great interest. Attracting people from around the globe, it stands as a reminder of war and its grave effects. To impart such knowledge to tourists coming in from Maui, there is an inter-island flight leading tourists to explore the harbor in an enlightening tour.
Departing in the morning, with times varying between 6-7 am, these tickets to Pearl Harbor includes:
After their great sacrifice, it is only right that the thousands of people who laid their lives in the attack are truly honored. Most tours commence with a documentary on the history of the attack on pearl harbor, after which the visitors are taken to walk through the USS Arizona Memorial and pay their respects to the fallen.
The area is the final resting place of 1102 sailors who lost their lives in the attack. Survivors of the attack can also choose to be buried alongside these brave men like them, with their time comes.
A visit to the museum entails an up close and personal viewing of many exhibits that graced the harbor at the time of the attack. Showcasing a magnificent aircraft collection, those planes are also showed which helped bring World War II to an end. The MiG Alley Korean War Exhibit and B-25B Mitchell are only a few of the many exhibits on display.
You will also get the opportunity to hear stories of pilots during the attack. Or if you are in the mood for some WWII pilot experience yourself – there are interactive Combat Flight simulators for visitors.
Nicknamed the Pearl Harbor Avenger, the USS Bowfin Submarine fought in WWII. The museum thus displays a wide variety of naval weaponry and vessels. The most famous exhibit, however, is the Bowfin Submarine itself. You can go aboard, look around, and imagine yourselves as a submariner in WWII, fighting for your country. For those wishing to join the naval forces, this museum is full of spirit and inspiration.
A glorified battleship, the Battleship Missouri signifies the site of the surrender of the Japanese, and consequently the end of WWII. You can look around and get great photographs. Or if you wish for an in-depth tour, you can also be guided along with the inner working of the ship; the gun turrets, engine rooms, etc.
A mere 3-minute walk from Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Oklahoma Memorial mourns the death of the 429 sailors who were aboard the USS Oklahoma on the day of the attack. Visit, and pay your respects for their sacrifice is immense.
If you wish to visit Pearl Harbor from Maui, it is a 30-minute flight only. Choose the tour of your liking. Most include a visit to the above attractions and are a full-day trip, with departure at nightfall. However, if you wish to visit Oahu but not be restricted to only Pearl Harbor, there are tour options for that too.