Pearl Harbor. The name alone invokes history (and, you know, that movie). Nestled in the heart of Honolulu, Hawaii's biggest city, on the state's third biggest island. Not far from the iconic Waikiki beach, Pearl is still an active base for the US Navy, headquarters for the Pacific Fleet.
But it's also home to several museums dedicated to preserving the history of that infamous day, and beyond. I toured the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum last year, and took hundreds of photos. I've shared the best in the two photo tours below along with some bonus images of the submarine USS Bowfin.
As you approach the harbor, you can't miss the Mighty Mo. The last battleship built by the US, she fought in World War II, Korea and even Desert Storm. On her decks, while docked in Tokyo Harbor, the Japanese signed their surrender.
Though nearly 900 feet long and displacing 45,000 tons, it's her nine 16-inch guns that draw the eye. Capable of launching something the weight of a small car over 20 miles, they're even more spectacular up close.
, including some otherwise off-limits areas of Big Mo.
In front of Missouri is the instantly recognizable Arizona Memorial, stationed directly over where the ship sank on December 7. It's a quiet, somber place, reachable only by boat. Through the water you can see the rusted remains of Arizona herself.
Pacific Aviation Museum
Adjacent to the Memorial, and where the Missouri is docked, is Ford Island, home of the Pacific Aviation Museum. This multi-hanger complex houses aircraft World War II and newer. As you'd expect it has a bit of a focus on the Battle of the Pacific, with an F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless, A6M Zero and more. But out across the tarmac are some planes of the jet age. An F-14, an F-15 and even an F-105. Inside Hangar 79 there's even a MiG-21.
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Returning back to the entrance of the entire museum complex, it's just a short walk to the USS Bowfin. This diesel sub doesn't have the space or comfort of, but it's a fascinating step back into the underwater warfare of the WWII and Korean War eras.
The passageways are cramped on this tiny boat. It's only a little over 300 feet long, and less than 30 feet wide. Yet 80 men would serve at a time, sleeping in bunks squeezed in everywhere.
Though Hawaii is a long flight for many on the US mainland, Oahu, and all of the islands, offer incredible beauty, wonderful people and delicious food. Pearl, with its excellent museums, is easily worth a day, if you can squeeze it in between all your surfing.