Taking Baby to Pearl Harbor Tips
Pearl Harbor is one of the most significant sites in American military history. If you’re a war buff, or if you simply want to explore this historic site, you might be considering taking baby to Pearl Harbor. Babies are welcome in the park; with a bit of planning, it’s possible to have a fun day for the whole family.
Your biggest concern when taking a baby to Pearl Harbor is the site’s unique restrictions. Since it sees such a high volume of visitors each year, the memorial strictly regulates the items that come in and out. As a parent of a baby, these limitations have a big impact on your planning and scheduling — but by understanding the rules in advance, you can plan accordingly and arrive prepared. Whether you live in Hawaii or you’re visiting on vacation, Pearl Harbor makes a great outing with your little one.
How to Take Baby to Pearl Harbor
1. Plan Your Transportation to the Park
When you’re taking baby to Pearl Harbor, transportation is a big consideration. The most convenient option is a rental car; it allows you to come and go as you please according to your child’s mood on the day. You can also book private tour vehicles or larger shuttle buses through tour companies or your hotel.
Bus transportation is affordable — however, since the buses run on schedules, you might be stuck if your little one has a meltdown. If you’re confident, be sure to check with the bus company about the safety features and storage. Are there seatbelts on the bus? Does the bus have room for your stroller? For many parents, a rental car can ease the stress of traveling to Pearl Harbor with a newborn.
2. Understand Bag Restrictions
For safety reasons, Pearl Harbor does not allow visitors to take any bags into the site — and that includes diaper bags. If you’re taking baby to Pearl Harbor, you can carry your baby’s essentials in:
- A clear bag
- The canvas bags that you can purchase in the park’s secure zone
- A fixed pouch on your stroller; this pouch must not be removable
- A small fanny pack
Keep in mind that park officials will inspect any of these bags. If you have a child with you, you’re also allowed to bring baby food or bottles.
Need to bring more supplies than you’re allowed to carry into the park? Don’t worry. There’s a bag-storage facility outside of the visitor center. You’ll need to pay a fee to store your diaper bag, but it will be close by in case you need to pop out and grab emergency supplies. However, the bag lines can often take 20 minutes. A better option is to book a rental car; that way, you can run out to the parking lot for diaper changes or clothing changes between tours. This alone can take much of the stress out of taking baby to Pearl Harbor.
3. Make a Loose Schedule
Before taking baby to Pearl Harbor, it’s a good idea to make a schedule. The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is spread over several sites. At the entrance, you can check out the visitor center and visit the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum. Off the coast, you’ll find the submerged USS Arizona. Ford Island houses the Battleship Missouri Memorial and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
If you’re limited on time, or if your little one is mercurial, your best bet is to stick to the visitor center and the USS Bowfin. That way, you can always leave if there’s a big diaper blowout or your baby is unhappy. Want to visit Ford Island? Hop on the shuttle from the visitor center. Seeing all four sites takes at least 6 hours; for comfort, the park recommends 8 to 10 hours. While this is possible when taking baby to Pearl Harbor, you’ll need to do extra planning for naps and feeding. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to plan for a short trip to Pearl Harbor and add on sites if your child is in the mood.
4. Book Tickets in Advance for the USS Arizona
The USS Arizona is one of the most popular sites at Pearl Harbor. Planning to visit when you’re taking baby to Pearl Harbor? Consider reserving tickets in advance. Each ticket is timed, and tours leave in 15-minute increments; with a pre-booked ticket, you can better accommodate your baby’s schedule. Keep in mind that you’ll need to arrive at least an hour before the tour time to pick up your tickets. While you wait, you can explore the visitor center or check out the USS Bowfin. Tickets are free, and you do not need to get a ticket for your newborn.
If you can’t reserve tickets in advance, it’s possible to get them at the door. The park releases 1,300 additional tickets on a first-come, first-served basis when the gates open at 7:00 AM. If you choose this option when taking baby to Pearl Harbor, keep in mind that everyone in your group must be there to pick up tickets. Most days, it’s easy to get same-day tickets; on holiday breaks, you’ll have more competition.
5. Understand the USS Arizona Tour Schedule and Restrictions
Once you have tickets for the USS Arizona tour, it’s time to plan accordingly. The tour lasts for 75 minutes; it includes a 25-minute documentary screening, a boat ride to the memorial, and time to examine the displays. Strollers are not allowed on the boat or the memorial itself; you must leave them outside of the theater. Park rangers are in the vicinity, but there are no specific stroller guards, so it’s important to take valuables with you. Be sure to bring a carrier for your baby, and carry a small plastic bag for any essentials.
It’s also important to note that there are no public restrooms at the memorial itself. Before you get on the boat, take a few minutes for a diaper change. Food and drink are not allowed at the memorial, so consider planning your visit around feeding times. You can leave the memorial at any time by hopping on a departing boat. Boats leave about every 15 minutes.
6. Prepare for the Sun and Heat
Before taking baby to Pearl Harbor, make sure that you’re prepared for the heat and sunshine. Whether you’re standing in line for tickets or exploring the outdoor area, your baby will be exposed to the warmth. Near the ocean or on the boat, you’ll be dealing with cool sea breezes. It’s helpful to dress your little one in light layers for easy cooling; bring along a blanket for the air-conditioned museums.
To shield your little one from the sun, a stroller with a canopy is a must. A wraparound sunshade can provide extra protection for delicate skin. Don’t forget baby sunscreen; reapply according to the package instructions to prevent sunburns.
To beat the heat, you might plan your visit for the first thing in the morning. As a bonus, the crowds will be lighter, and you can move through the exhibits with less interference.
7. Choose Your Clothing Wisely
For parents, the biggest struggle with taking a baby to Pearl Harbor is the bag restriction — especially if you’re accustomed to carrying your keys, phone, and other essentials around in a purse. That’s where clothing choices come in. Consider taking items with larger pockets, including cargo shorts or light jackets. Look for pockets that zip closed for safety.
The weather at Pearl Harbor is often beautiful and warm. Light clothing is best, but you may want a warmer layer for the AC or the boat. Make sure it’s something you can tie around your waist to leave your hands free to hold your little one.
Pearl Harbor is one of the most fascinating historic sites in the United States. It’s also large and complex, which can present a challenge for parents with kids. Don’t worry — if you’re planning on taking baby to Pearl Harbor, a bit of planning can help everything run smoothly. When you understand the Pearl Harbor rules and restrictions, it’s easier to come up with a schedule and a list of supplies that can get you through the day in comfort.