USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park

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First launched on December 7, 1942 (exactly one year from the attack on Pearl Harbor) as part of the United States military endeavors in WWII, the USS Bowfin is famous for being one of only 15 surviving submarines from the war. Known as “The Pearl Harbor Avenger” for her military prowess and success in battle, the Bowfin was among the small group of American submarines in service that accounted for over 50% of enemy ships destroyed. While most other submarines were converted into scrap metal or used for target practice, the USS Bowfin has been carefully preserved for her historical significance.

It was converted into a historic museum in 1981 and is today a central attraction at the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark attracting visitors from all across the globe. You can tour the quarters, enjoy an audio tour, and explore their extensive collection of military artifacts and objects from WWII in the adjacent museum.

What’s Here

The USS Bowfin is a retired military vessel that’s been preserved to showcase exactly how sailors lived and worked during the Second World War. Visitors can enjoy a self-guided audio tour of the submarine, and explore the museum. It is possible to purchase tickets for just the museum, but it’s worth the extra $6 or so to see both. Audio tours are available in English, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese and Mandarin.

USS Bowfin Submarine Tour

A museum that supported a modest 80-man crew, the USS Bowfin will likely strike you as being quite small for that many people. Quarters are cramped but efficient, as you’ll see on your tour of spaces like crew cabins, control rooms, and even engine rooms. Please note that children under four are not permitted to visit the submarine for safety reasons.

Bowfin Museum 

With 10,000 square feet of space and over 4,000 submarine-related artifacts, the museum affiliated with the USS Bowfin is a must-visit for any fans of military history. You’ll find a wide variety of artifacts and objects from the war, including everything from recruitment posters to battle flags to munitions. The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as an affiliated research library for professionals. Children under four get free admission to the museum!

Dining & Shopping Options

The USS Bowfin offers a nice gift shop with a wide selection of submarine and military themed gifts. You’ll find plenty of apparel from hats to t-shirts and more, plus unique housewares like engraved glasses. There’s also an extensive selection of collectible items that fans of military history especially enjoy. You can even find a wide array of 75th anniversary gifts and items, from hats to collectible coins. You can purchase items in person or order them over e-mail when you return home.

There is a small snack bar serving hotdogs, nachos, and soup at the Bowfin, as well as some vending machines. You can sit comfortably in their covered lanai as you eat your snacks. There are no other dining options at this attraction and nothing substantive enough to be called dinner.

Tips for Visiting the USS Bowfin

  • Be sure to participate in their Junior Submariner program if you have children ages 5-16. If they fill out a worksheet with correct answers about the sub, you’ll get a free iron-on patch!
  • Bags of any size (including purses) are not permitted on the USS Bowfin. You can easily store them for $4/bag.
  • Keep in mind that because it’s a real submarine, the USS Bowfin herself is not ADA accessible. The attraction cannot accommodate wheelchairs or service dogs, although both are welcome at the museum.
  • There are two options for the audio tour: the regular option for adults, and the more accessible kid-friendly option.

Where to Buy It

There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to USS Bowfin Submarine.

Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from USS Bowfin Submarine either online or in person.

Purchase a Tourist pass. The USS Bowfin Submarine is available on the Go Oahu Card, Honolulu Flexi Attractions Pass, Pearl Harbor Pass and the Passport to Pearl Harbor.