Free Stuff to Do: Punchbowl National Military Cemetery

Like the better-known Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC, the Punchbowl is also a national military cemetery, initially dedicated to the dead from the Pacific War but now including military deceased from all conflicts and causes since then as well.

Visiting the cemetery is a sobering event, with its acres of graves and reminders of what war does in the end—kill people—, however noble or not the reason for fighting. Huge tile mosaics trace the history, via maps, of the Pacific War from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese surrender in 1945, and make a well-done addition to any tour that also includes the Arizona Memorial at Pearl.

The Cemetery also offers amazing views of the southern coastline of Oahu, from beyond the airport through downtown and the Ala Wai harbor to Diamond Head. The vantage point is usually deserted, and offers 180 degrees of the sea, as well as a chance to look out onto the expanse of the cemetery. Clean toilets, a small visitor's center, lots of parking.

For younger kids, the view itself may not be special enough for them to put up with the need to remain quiet and respectful among the graves themselves. For older kids who may know a bit about the history that put all those soldiers, sailors and airmen into the warm volcanic earth north of Honolulu, visiting the Punchbowl will be a moving experience.

User Feedback

Related Hawaii Oahu Articles