Growing up in Hawaii, we know the in’s and out’s of what you should see and do on the island on Oahu. Especially when you have children whose energy levels and imagination exceed the norm.
A visit to the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park was what the kids needed on a lazy, hot summer day. The kids were looking forward to seeing the inside of the sub, while we (us parents) were more interested in what submarine life was like for the crew. We were not expecting to find a whole lot of sub history unfold right before our eyes.
The Waterfront Memorial that overlooks tranquil Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial (where WWII began) was beautiful on this sunny day. It took the kids at least a half hour before we actually entered the park and museum since they wanted to take photos with every single torpedo on display. As we entered the Museum, we were met by our warm and friendly guide “Charles” who gave us a personal tour of the Mighty USS Bowfin.
The USS Bowfin is known as the Pearl Harbor Avenger and played an important role in US World War II history. We were able to hear fascinating stories about the 52 American submarines lost during WWII while paying tribute to more than 3,600 submariners who gave their lives in service to their country.
Inside the submarine is small and cramped and getting to understand all parts of the submarine, and hearing from veterans on the audio certainly gives you a good sense of what it was like back then.
The submarine is amazing and the living conditions of the dedicated crew aboard the submarine, is humbling and makes you appreciate their personal sacrifice.
Armed with an array of guns and up to 24 torpedos at one time, the USS Bowfin engaged in a “silent service” designed to take the war to the enemy. The vessel sank 44 sinks during her commission.
The kids found the tour of the submarine and also the museum to be fascinating. They still can’t believe that the crew lived in such small spaces and underwater for such long periods of time. Jaf wanted to know if they missed their families, and we all had a moment of silence. The best part of the tour was watching the kids re-enact what they think happened on the submarine, which went on during the entire time of the tour. They asked a lot of interesting questions and let their imaginations run wild.
As we said goodbye to Charles our awesome (and patient) guide, the kids streamlined to the hotdog stand and later we all had shave ice and sat on the grass near the Waterfront Memorial to view the USS Bowfin. It truly was a great learning experience for us all. Watching them explore the museum and park literally took us 2 1/2 hours so be prepared to spend sometime at the park.
If you’re visiting the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorials, this is a must do for kids. You can purchase tickets next at the same ticket window for the USS Arizona.
For more information on the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, visit their website.
* Tip: We recommend this trip for children over 6. Although my son was 5 at the time he really didn’t understand or comprehend the depth of the Bowfin’s history. Nonetheless, he had a brilliant time roaming the ship!