Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Visitor Centers: Gateways to Your National Marine Sanctuaries!

West Coast | Pacific Islands | Southeast & Gulf of Mexico | East Coast | Great Lakes

WEST COAST

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Sanctuary Exploration Center

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Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center location on a map

Location: Santa Cruz, California

Admission: Free

Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Best for: Families with kids, beachgoers, surfers

Located just steps from the beach, the Sanctuary Exploration Center is a highlight of any visit to Santa Cruz! Take the free trolley from downtown to the lively waterfront area and check out the Exploration Center’s high-tech, interactive exhibits featuring the incredible underwater world of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Coastal Discovery Center

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Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Coastal Discover Center location on a map

Location: San Simeon, CA

Admission: Free

Hours: Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Best for: Hearst Castle visitors, Big Sur explorers, wildlife watchers

Enjoy the beautiful view of San Simeon Bay while you visit the Coastal Discovery Center, a joint venture between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks. Located at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach just across the entrance from Hearst Castle, the center's exhibits, events and educational programs celebrate the connection between land and sea.

Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

Gulf of the Farallones Visitor Center

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Gulf of the Farallones visitor Center location on a map

Location: San Francisco, CA

Admission: Free

Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Best for: Family picnics, birders, amateur photographers

Come enjoy a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center! Located in a historic Coast Guard station at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, the center offers visitors a wealth of educational resources about wildlife and conservation, as well as access to a sandy beach and green space that's perfect for a sunny day trip.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Olympic Coast Discovery Center

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Olympic Coast Discovery Center location on a map

Location: Port Angeles, Washington

Admission: Free

Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day

Best for: Adventure seekers, kayakers, nature lovers, history buffs

No trip to Washington state’s beautiful and remote Olympic Coast is complete without stopping by NOAA’s Olympic Coast Discovery Center! Plan your hikes or kayak trips along the coast, discover local marine life, and learn about the sanctuary’s rich history.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Coming Soon: OCTOS @ UCSB!

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Octos at University of California location on a map

Location: University of California, Santa Barbara

The Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science, or OCTOS, is a state-of-the-art science education facility that brings together the resources and innovative programs of the Marine Science Institute at UC Santa Barbara and NOAA's Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Located on the UCSB campus just steps from the ocean, OCTOS will open to the general public and school groups once its suite of high-tech, hands-on interactive exhibits is completed.

PACIFIC ISLANDS

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument

Mokupāpapa Discovery Center

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Mokupapapa discover center location on a map

Location: Hilo, Hawaii

Admission: Free

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Best for: Families with kids, nature lovers, culture seekers

Learn about some of Hawaii’s most remote and spectacular coral reefs at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo! The center, which relocated to a new 20,000-square-foot facility in 2014, exposes visitors to the nature, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Since few will ever get the opportunity to visit these remote locations, the center uses beautiful exhibits and a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium to “bring the place to the people” and inspire greater appreciation for their fragile ecosystems.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Visitor Center

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Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale visitor center location on a map

Location: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

Admission: Free

Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Best for: Whale watchers, nature lovers, surfers, paddlers, families with kids

How many visitor centers let you watch humpback whales breaching right from their doorstep? That’s just one of the many reasons to check out the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, situated on the south shore of Maui with picturesque views of Kaho'olawe, Lana'i and West Maui looking across the waters of the sanctuary. Learn about Hawaii’s diverse marine life and rich culture in a scenic beachfront setting featuring a restored historic Hawaiian Kö'ie'ie fishpond.

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center

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American Samoa visitor center location on a map

Location: Pago Pago, American Samoa

Admission: Free

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m; weekends (when a cruise ship is in town), 8 a.m – 2 p.m.

Best for: Locals, students, travelers, ecotourists

The Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center provides visitors with a window into the culture, history and natural environment of American Samoa. This state-of-the-art facility is popular among local residents and tourists alike, offering educational programs and high-tech learning tools like "Science on a Sphere," an interactive, fully spherical video screen.

EAST COAST

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary

USS Monitor Center

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Monitor Visitor Center location on map

Admission: Adults $12; military & seniors $11; students $10; children (ages 6-12) $7; children (5 and under) free; free for museum members

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Best for: History buffs, ship enthusiasts, families with kids

Immerse yourself in history and heritage! Located in The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, the USS Monitor Center is an extraordinary exhibit that highlights the iconic Civil War ironclad now protected by NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Interactive displays, a state-of-the-art conservation center, historical artifacts and captivating films that showcase the life of the historic vessel provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.

SOUTHEAST & GULF OF MEXICO

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center

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Florida Keys visitor center location on a map

Location: Key West, Florida

Admission: Free; free parking

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Best for: Families, snorkelers, fishers, divers, junior scientists

The Eco-Discovery Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits showcasing the enticing waters of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, two national parks and four national wildlife refuges. Immerse yourself in the Keys with the center’s Living Reef exhibit, a 2,500-gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, or learn about what it’s like to live beneath the waves on Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory!

GREAT LAKES

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center

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Thunder bay maritime heritage center location on a map

Location: Alpena, Michigan

Hours: Summer — Open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (open until 7 p.m. in July & August); Winter — Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Best for: Families with kids, history buffs, shipwreck seekers, picnickers 

If you’re ever in Alpena, Michigan, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is hard to miss — and you really shouldn’t miss it! Painted in NOAA’s signature blue and white, the 9,000-square-foot center is a must-visit for maritime history enthusiasts, featuring a wealth of exhibits and artifacts highlighting the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Explore the full-size replica of a Great Lakes schooner and shipwreck inside the museum, then head outside and wander along the waterfront Maritime Heritage Trail!



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Revised May 07, 2014 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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