I'm not keen on 'organised tours' but (being without a car) it was recommended as the best way to tour Pearl Harbour. The full day trip I chose included hotel pick-up and transport around the various exhibits within the Pearl Harbour complex. It meant an early start as my area was the first to be collected and then a tour of every major hotel along Waikiki Beach...
It was a lovely day and I was thankful I had slapped on plenty of sunblock before leaving the hotel as could not carry it into the base. After getting through the security, amazed at how many in the group had paid zero attention to the multiple 'no bag' briefings, first stop was the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theatre.
There was a short movie about the day which changed history. I was familiar with it already (from school study, the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! and, more recently, History Channel) but was interesting to see it in context.
USS Arizona Memorial
We then boarded boats to transfer to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was closed, for a lengthy period, a few months after I visited due to some structural problem so was fortunate with the timing.
It's a moving experience, still hard to imagine what happened where we stood on a fine calm afternoon much like the day when Pacific history changed. It is an oddly serene, sobering place.
The memorial is staffed and I was surprised at the questions some, American judging by their accents, were asking the attendants. It was like they had little awareness of what had happened here, we'd just seen a movie!?
Was surprised when one of the attendants (not sure if they are Navy or Park personnel) grabbed one of a questioners iPhone and said; "This device is all you need to learn this history, it's here in your hand, it's not hard to find out!".
It was a well intentioned, not hostile or angry, expression of frustration, memorable.
"The tears of the Arizona" as fuel oil leaks from the wreck decades on.
Back at the visitor centre I spent some time looking at the exhibits (like the torpedo below) but, downside of a group tour, had to cut that short to 'be back at the bus' for the next part of the tour.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
We were driven from the visitor centre (top middle below) over the bridge (left) to the 'Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum' (bottom right).
It features a wide variety of military aircraft, both historic and more modern, which have served around the Pacific.
The legendary B-17 Swamp Ghost, recovered from the Papua New Guinea swamp where it ditched in 1942.
USS Missouri Battleship
Next stop was the USS Missouri Battleship which, although served into the mid-1990s, is best remembered as the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan, which ended World War II.
First time I've been on a naval ship of this size, had toured NZ's little (in comparison) HMNZS Canterbury, and found it fascinating.
On a peaceful afternoon, hard to imagine these in action...
The spot on the deck where World War Two ended in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Not sure what determined the order, but New Zealand was the last to sign the 'Japanese Instrument of Surrender'? I later worked at Auckland Airport, the office was on a street named for Air Vice-Marshal Leonard M. Isitt who signed for New Zealand.
Cool to see the edits, like the now famous 'infamy' added, on this congress speech draft.
I had lunch here, don't recall what, but made a note about a man - who sounded like Reece Shearsmith as Ross, in 'The League of Gentleman' - ordering a vegetable burger being pedantically painfully annoying to the poor staff. So long ago (as I write this in 2021) I can't remember why!
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum
Next stop is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. It was in service from 1942 to 1971, then retired to Pearl Harbour as a memorial to all submariners.
The USS Arizona Memorial through the Bowfin's deck gun sight.
Early evening sun and the cloud cover created a serene, but moody, scene.
I spent as long as possible, cursing the last 'back to bus deadline', taking in this unique place.
Although on time, almost to the second, I was last on the bus as we headed back to downtown Honolulu. Rather than endure a repeat of the hotel drop-offs I jumped off at the Ala Moana Shopping Center, in search of dinner rather than retail therapy.
I did have a look around but, food aside, didn't do any shopping.
The walk back to the hotel was longer than expected, about 3km, but such a nice calm warm evening I enjoyed it. Stopped off for a gelato mid-way, which became a bit of an evening ritual after that.
It was a long day, but tomorrow I have another adventure planned: A lap of Ohau by bicycle!