This review of the wheelchair accessibility of Pearl Harbor National Memorial is from Winter 2023.
Few events have changed the course of history more than the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial surpasses expectations for preserving and honoring the memory of those who died on that “date which will live in infamy.” And it surpassed my expectations for wheelchair accessibility.
- Getting to and exploring around the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
- USS Arizona Memorial
- Ford Island Bus Tour and other nearby attractions
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial accessibility website provides a good overview of the accessibility and resources. This is particularly helpful since I typically had to wait a few days to receive a response via phone (808-422-3399) or e-mail (email@example.com).
Getting to and around the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
We took a city bus from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor National Memorial, which took 1-1.5 hours each way and was wheelchair accessible. The below video shows the journey, as well as explores the various routes through the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
Note: There are wheelchair accessible parking spaces in front of the Memorial if you choose to drive.
Bags are not allowed inside the Memorial, so there is a coat/bag check kiosque to the right of the main entrance. There is a wheelchair accessible bathroom on the way to the kiosque.
Once inside the park, the sidewalks are wide and smooth between the buildings. The movie hall has wheelchair accessible seating areas, and the two exhibit halls are wheelchair accessible as well–there were some great artifacts and memorabilia from the attack (including the remnants of a torpedo). The gift shop is also wheelchair accessible.
There is a pathway around the shore that overlooks the USS Arizona Memorial, which has several interpretive wayside exhibits and leads to a Remembrance Circle that lists the names of the casualties of the attack.
Tip: The path by the water looks smooth, but roots from the nearby trees have pushed up the sidewalk in places. It can be a deceptively bumpy ride at times, so proceed with caution.
USS Arizona Memorial
How to Purchase Tickets
There is not a separate process for buying wheelchair accessible tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial. You should book them in advance (highly, highly recommended) at https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/233338/ticket/16. Tickets are $1, and are released daily at 3 pm HST in two windows: 24-hours and 8-weeks in advance. For example, on January 1, tickets are released for January 2 and February 26. Tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to watch for those release times.
Video Tour of Wheelchair Accessible Tour of USS Arizona Memorial
The USS Arizona is an emotionally moving experience. It is also fully wheelchair accessible–see my POV video below for details.
The Memorial is accessed via small boats, which are boarded by longer, stable ramps. The boats have wheelchair accessible spaces onboard, and the ride is smooth. The Memorial itself is accessed via long stable ramps again, and the platform overlooking the final resting place of the USS Arizona is flat and zero threshold. The lookouts are all slotted, so there are not walls that block views.
The NPS and U.S. Navy outdid themselves by making this nautical experience wheelchair accessible, and I am forever thankful for it. In fact, I was very happy with the wheelchair accessibility of Pearl Harbor overall.
Ford Island Bus Tour and Other Attractions Nearby
We focused our energy on exploring around the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the USS Arizona. The NPS also operates a guided bus tour of Ford Island, which takes visitors via bus onto the active U.S. Navy base to visit the USS Oklahoma and USS Utah memorials. The tour may not be wheelchair accessible, so people with disabilities are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to inquire about accessibility limitations with the bus and terrain on Ford Island.
Note: Similar to the USS Arizona, admission requires purchasing a ticket and reserving a timeslot from https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/10089185/ticket/10089186.
Beyond the NPS-run memorials, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museums are also near the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. They require an additional fee to access each of them. Please contact each of them to confirm accessibility information for all features and tickets (e.g., the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum includes a tour of the USS Bowfin submarine, which is not wheelchair accessible).