Looking for a worthwhile day trip from Maui? One of the most moving experiences we’ve had in Hawaii didn’t happen on Maui, but on Oahu — at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Getting there from Maui on your own makes for an easy and rewarding day trip, no hired tour guide necessary.
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a must-do if you can make it to Oahu. Standing at the historic site never fails to provide a sobering reminder of the sacrifice paid by so many to secure the freedoms we enjoy today in the U.S.
And it’s easy to get there from Maui. The historic sites at Pearl Harbor are just a short flight from Maui’s Kahului Airport. The Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center is less than five miles from Honolulu International Airport.
Just remember: while you can visit Pearl Harbor’s visitor center (including the museum and grounds) without a ticket, you’ll need advance reservations to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. You also need to purchase tickets for entry to other historic sites in the area.
Yes, you could book a commercial tour to visit Pearl Harbor, but visiting on your own isn’t hard — and it’ll save you some cash. Here’s how to visit Pearl Harbor without a tour group.
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In this post:
- About Pearl Harbor
- Historic sites at Pearl Harbor
- How to get to Pearl Harbor from Maui
- Sample Pearl Harbor day trip itinerary from Maui
- Admission tickets and Passport to Pearl Harbor
- What to bring on your day trip to Pearl Harbor
About Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor attracts approximately 4,000 visitors each day, making it one of the top three most-visited tourist destinations in the state of Hawaii, according to the National Park Service. It’s most known as the site of the devastating December 7, 1941 attack on the U.S. military base by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. The attack precipitated U.S. involvement in WWII.
Located at the active military Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Pearl Harbor is also the largest natural harbor in the state of Hawaii.
According to the National Park Service, “the memorial is a place of remembrance and contemplation of the nature of war and the sacrifices of those who lost their lives during the Pacific War.”
Historic sites at Pearl Harbor
With the mention of Pearl Harbor, many tourists automatically think of the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, and the shuttle boat to the remains of the fallen ship. Along with the moving U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, visitors to Pearl Harbor may access several World War II-era historic sites:
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial (advance reservation or same day standby)
More than 80 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, visitors today may witness a somber vestige of the harrowing day — oil leaking from the remains of the U.S.S. Arizona. Sometimes referred to as “the black tears of the U.S.S. Arizona” the sight is a moving reminder of the lives lost during the Pearl Harbor attack.
To access the memorial, which was built above the U.S.S. Arizona’s resting place, guests must reserve a Navy-operated shuttle boat ticket up to 8 weeks in advance of a specific tour date. (First-come-first-served ticketing has been discontinued.)
Limited standby tickets may be available as a same-day option, but availability isn’t guaranteed. Allot 45 minutes for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial boat tour.
Battleship Missouri Memorial (entry fee required)
The deck of the famous “Mighty Mo” is where the Japanese officially surrendered at the end of WWII. The ship is the last of its kind — both the last American battleship ever built and the last to be decommissioned. Launched in 1944, she officially completed her service in 1999.
On board the U.S.S. Missouri, take a guided tour or explore on your own. Sit in the captain’s chair, get an up close look at the 50-caliber guns on deck, and explore the ship’s lower decks.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial is located on Ford Island, an active military installation. Access to the memorial is available via shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Shuttles run every 15 minutes.
Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum (entry fee required)
Step aboard a WWII-era attack submarine at the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum. Formerly known as the U.S. Bowfin and Submarine Museum and Park, the museum dedicated to the “Silent Service” is located adjacent to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Admission includes museum entry, outdoor exhibits, and access to the WWII-era submarine U.S.S Bowfin. The Balao-class fleet attack submarine served in the Pacific during WWII. Nicknamed “The Pearl Harbor Avenger,” it launched on December 7, 1942 — one year to the day of the infamous Pearl Harbor attack.
The museum offers both self-guided tours and free audio guide tours. We recommend allotting 1.5 to 2 hours for visiting the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum (entry fee required)
Stand inside an 80,000 square foot WWII-era aviation hangar, still pierced with bullet holes from the December 7th attack, at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
The museum pays tribute to the aviation battlefield of WWII, where visitors can view the Ford Island control tower and air field, along with more than 50 aircraft and exhibits. Free audio tours are available.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is located on Ford Island, an active military base. Visitors must take a shuttle from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to gain access to the museum. We recommend allotting two hours for your visit to the Aviation Museum.
Ford Island bus tour: U.S.S. Oklahoma and U.S.S. Utah Memorials (advance reservation required)
Gain entry to two WWII memorials not typically accessible to the general public. Take a 90-minute motor coach tour from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to Ford Island on an exclusive tour to see the U.S.S. Oklahoma and U.S.S. Utah Memorials.
At the U.S.S. Utah Memorial, remains of the fallen ship are visible at the spot where the ship sank. The battleship was hit by torpedoes during the December 7th attack in 1941. Fifty-eight of its crew were killed.
The U.S.S. Oklahoma Memorial commemorates the 429 lives lost on the ship during the Pearl Harbor attack. The ship itself was sold for scrap metal and hauled away. It sank in 1947 while en route to the West Coast.
Availability of this tour is extremely limited, with only 25 seats per tour. The National Park Service runs the ranger-led tour only once daily — at 3:15 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Tickets to the Ford Island bus tour are released online two weeks prior to the tour date via the Recreation.gov website.
How to get to to Pearl Harbor from Maui
There’s no public ferry service or bridge to get to Oahu, so flying into Honolulu’s airport is your best option. From there, take a car or public transportation to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, which is only about 3 miles (or a 15 to 30 minute drive depending on traffic) from the airport.
Tips for booking a flight from Maui to Oahu
The primary commercial air carriers that fly interisland from Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG) to Oahu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) include:
- Southwest Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
When to book and fares
Based on our flight searches on each of these airlines, we found that you generally get the best deal if you book your flight in advance rather than at the last minute. Economy round trip rates from Maui to Honolulu in 2022 range between $70 to $140 round trip. Flight time between the islands is around 30 to 40 minutes one way.
Best flight times
When choosing a departure time, snag an early morning flight before 8:00 a.m. Not only will you avoid the long midday security lines when departing from Kahului Airport, but an early start lets you maximize your time on Oahu.
How to get to Pearl Harbor from the Honolulu airport
Getting to Oahu from Maui is the biggest step to getting to Pearl Harbor. The historic sites are only a short distance from the Honolulu airport. This is how you can get there:
- Hail a rideshare. Use your preferred provider, such as Uber or Lyft. In our experience, costs typically range from $25 to $45 for a one-way trip, depending on current demand and driver availability.
- Hire a taxi. According to Rome2Rio, a one-way taxi ride from Honolulu International Airport to Pearl Harbor costs between $19 to $23.
- Catch the public bus. Known as TheBus, Oahu’s public bus system takes you straight to Pearl Harbor for just $3 one way. This makes TheBus appealing for both budget-minded and eco-conscious travelers. The 20 line bus route from Honolulu Airport runs every 20 minutes.
- Rent a car. If you don’t plan on spending the entire day at Pearl Harbor and want flexibility to see other parts of Oahu, renting a car for the day is your best bet. Several car rental agencies reside on site at Honolulu’s airport, with complimentary shuttles from the baggage claim area.
Sample Pearl Harbor day trip itinerary from Maui
The best thing about visiting Pearl Harbor without a tour is that you can control your day and make your own schedule. With a commercial tour group, this isn’t the case.
“[We] did a tour and we were stuck to their schedule. Never again,” says Tricia T. of the Facebook group Coming to Maui.
If you plan on touring all of the Pearl Harbor sights on your own, expect to spend a full day in the area.
Note: The order in which you visit each site will revolve around any timed reservations you have. For example, if you have an afternoon ticket to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, you can visit the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in the morning.
Sample one-day itinerary
- 7:00 a.m. Take an early flight from Maui’s OGG airport to Oahu’s HNL airport.
- 7:45 a.m. Hail a driver and travel to the Pearl Harbor Memorial.
- 8:15 a.m. Arrive at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
- 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 am. Tour the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum.
- 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Explore the U.S.S. Arizona Visitor Center, grounds, and virtual reality center.
- 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Take the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial tour (with 10 a.m. tour reservations).
- 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Walk to Restaurant 604 for a lunch break.
- 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Take the shuttle bus to the Battleship Missouri Memorial at Ford Island. Tour the “Mighty Mo.”
- 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visit the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
- 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hop onto the shuttle bus back to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The last shuttle leaves at 5:00 p.m. from the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
- 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Finish any last minute photo ops or souvenir shopping before the Visitor Center closes at 5:00 p.m.
- 5:00 p.m. Hail a rideshare to the airport and grab a bite to eat before boarding your flight back to Maui.
Admission Tickets and Passport to Pearl Harbor
You can purchase tickets to each Pearl Harbor site separately. This works best if you want to visit only a few of Pearl Harbor memorials and museums.
But if you plan on visiting all of the sites, we recommend buying the all-in-one Passport to Pearl Harbor ticket. You can save as much as $9.96 per adult, or $17.46 per child when you buy a Passport to Pearl Harbor.
Bear in mind that you may visit the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and its exhibits for free.
** Important: The Passport to Pearl Harbor does NOT include a reservation to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. To access the shuttle boat ride to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, you must reserve tickets online through the National Park Service website. **
|USS Arizona Audio Tour – Visitor Center (does NOT include tickets to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial)
|$8.99 (includes nonrefundable $1 reservation fee)
|$8.99 (includes nonrefundable $1 reservation fee)
|Battleship Missouri Memorial – Mighty Mo Pass
|Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum – Admission
|Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum – Admission
|Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center
|Total admission purchased separately
|Passport to Pearl Harbor
|Potential savings per person
What to bring on your day trip to Pearl Harbor
As an active military base, visitors to Pearl Harbor’s historic sites are subject to security screening. Bags and luggage that conceal contents are prohibited on the grounds.
We recommend that you either travel without a bag or carry your personal items in a clear bag (see below). If not, prepare to pay for locker storage at $6 and $10 per bag, depending on the bag’s size.
The National Park Service publishes a list of prohibited and allowable items when visiting Pearl Harbor.
We recommend that you bring the following items on your day trip to Pearl Harbor:
- Clear stadium bag – Bag security is strictly enforced. If you don’t want to check your things into the onsite locker storage, you may carry your items into the memorial using a clear bag.
- Valid ID – Pearl Harbor is an active military base, and you may need to provide proof of identification, such as at the Ford Island bus tour.
- Spending money for lunch, sundries, and souvenirs.
- Water bottle – Stay hydrated! The sites can quickly become hot and crowded, especially when spending all day touring Pearl Harbor. I carry a water bottle almost everywhere I go, and my favorite by far is this stainless steel YETI bottle.
- Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen – Whether on the boat to the U.S.S. Arizona or strolling the outdoor memorial on shore, you’ll appreciate protection from the sun.
- Snacks – While onsite shops sell snacks and sundries, you’ll save a little money bringing your own.