From the Director

John Armor, Director
Photo: Ian Armor

As director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, I’m pleased to welcome you to “Get Into Your Sanctuary - Memories Happen Here,” a publication that shares the ways recreation can be enjoyed in your national marine sanctuaries. Within these pages, you will learn why we believe few places on the planet can compete with the diversity of recreational experiences found in national marine sanctuaries.

Enjoyment and appreciation of the great outdoors is a fundamental American value. Like our iconic parks on land, America’s ocean parks – national marine sanctuaries – are sources of national pride. They are places we all can go to experience the power and beauty of the ocean and form lasting memories.

The National Marine Sanctuary System spans more than 600,000 square miles from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

Whether you like to swim, explore tide pools, scuba dive, bird-watch, paddle, fish, surf, watch whales breach, or just lounge on your boat to catch an ocean breeze, national marine sanctuaries are great places to create life-long memories and connect with nature.

Diver swimming up
Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA

For example, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary near Boston offers some of the best whale watching in the country. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a great place to fish, boat, and dive. You can paddle among kelp forests, fish for salmon, or view seabirds and otters in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. History lovers can dive back in time in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron and view an amazing collection of sunken schooners that carried settlers and goods to the burgeoning towns of America’s West. Like to surf? Some of the most revered surf spots on Earth – Mavericks, Waimea Bay, Pipeline – are all found within Monterey Bay and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale national marine sanctuaries.

So whether you’re a hard-core adventure seeker, or someone who simply enjoys the peaceful feeling of an ocean view, do yourself a favor and add national marine sanctuaries to your next outdoor recreation experience. Get into a sanctuary - the memories you make will last a lifetime!

John Armor Signature

John Armor, Director