Visiting and Photographing Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is the most visited tourist attraction on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii.  In addition to reflecting on its historical significance, a photographer can get some good photographs at Pearl Harbor.

Flag Flying over the USS Arizona Memorial

Flag Flying over the USS Arizona Memorial

If you are going to visit Pearl Harbor, arrive early.  We arrived at 6:45am (15 minutes before opening) and there was already a fairly long line.

Once inside, you’ll need to get tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial.  Tour times for the USS Arizona are every 15 minutes.  You can visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the Museum free of charge.  There is a fee to visit other attractions like the USS Missouri and USS Bowfin submarine. 

You can pay for tours that provide transportation and pre-purchase tickets for you.  Rent a headset and player to hear audio at designated stops around Pearl Harbor.

For the USS Arizona tour, you need to arrive outside the theatre 10 minutes early.  You’ll first watch a 30 minute video on Pearl Harbor and then take a boat to the memorial.

USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial Pearl Harbor

I sat on the left side of the boat on the way there – shots of the USS Missouri and the dry dock.  I sat on the left side again on the way back – close up shots of the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine.

You’ll have 15 minutes on the memorial itself.  An ultra wide angle lens and polarizer filter helps to get shots of the memorial and water.

Make sure to check out the museum. In addition to the interesting content, some of the murals and photographs in the museum can make interesting photography subjects.

USS Missouri, Pearl Harbor

USS Missouri, Pearl Harbor

Photography Gear

No bags are allowed inside Pearl Harbor as it is an active military base.  So you will need to travel light.  There is a place where you can store your bag but that won’t help you carry your gear around Pearl Harbor.

I carried a micro four thirds camera with a 12-50mm wide angle lens and an 8-15mm ultra wide lens in my pocket.  Also, make sure to bring a circular polarizer as the clouds and the white USS Arizona Memorial can be blown out by the strong Hawaiian light.  The polarizer will also give you bluer skies and water. 

The Bombing of Pearl Harbor Mural

Bombing of Pearl Harbor Mural

I wear hiking pants or shorts with deep side pockets to store extra batteries, SD cards, and a micro fiber cloth.

Written by Martin Belan

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