Get into Your Sanctuary day logo

Get Into Your Sanctuary Day!

You're Invited!

As a travel destination, few places on the planet can compete with the diversity of the National Marine Sanctuary System, which protects America's most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. The majority of national marine sanctuaries' waters are open to compatible recreational activities that generate considerable benefits for local economies.

This year NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting its fourth National "Get into Your Sanctuary" celebration to raise awareness about the value of our sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation through a series of special activities. These events will begin over the weekend of May 19-20 in national marine sanctuaries along the East Coast, Gulf, and Great Lakes, and will culminate at sites along the West Coast and in the Pacific islands on August 4-5, 2018.

In the weeks leading up to these events, join us on social media in highlighting the types of recreational activities that can be enjoyed by visitors, along with tips for practicing good Ocean Etiquette. We are also running a photo contest May 19 - August 15, so you can share your best snapshots of fun times in national marine sanctuaries. This is a great occasion to showcase our partner organizations that bring people to safely view wildlife and help visitors dive, surf, fish, snorkel, paddle, swim, photograph, and enjoy the sea breezes of our nation's most special Great Lakes and ocean places! Tell us about your favorite national marine sanctuary using #ILoveMySanctuary!

Site Events

May Activities

We hope you enjoyed your visits to kick off the season! Don’t forget to check out the activities coming up in August and submit photos of your experience to the Get into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest!

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Get into Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary on May 19-20 by booking with a Blue Star operator that promotes responsible diving, snorkeling and fishing. Blue Star businesses take the extra step to educate visitors to be better stewards of the Florida Keys' unique and vitally important marine ecosystem. For more information, contact

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is bringing this beautiful gem of the sea to Galveston residents and visitors in collaboration with Lasker Park Pool! Hands-on activities, virtual reality scenes, photos and video will introduce you to this wonderful place that most people don’t have an opportunity to explore because of its remote location. On May 20th, visitors to Lasker Park Pool (2016 43rd Street, Galveston, TX 77550) from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. will get to enjoy games and activities that show how scientists study resources like the colorful corals and sponges protected in the sanctuary. Learn about other ways to visit, and get information on recreational scuba diving opportunities to see the reefs of the sanctuary in person. For more information, contact or 409-356-0382.

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Join the fun and take a virtual dive into Georgia's ocean jewel, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary! Children and adults will delight in discovering virtual reality and ROV (remotely operated vehicle) technology as they explore Gray's Reef and the rich marine life that thrives there. With the help of virtual reality allowing viewers to experience 10 different virtual dives, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is bringing the sanctuary to our coastal military families on May 19th, at Hunter Army Airfield and on May 20th, at Fort Stewart, home of the United States Army's 3rd Infantry Division.


19 May - Hunter Army Airfield (1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
School Age Center facility
304 N. Perimeter Road Bldg. 6054
Savannah, GA
Telephone: 912-315-1011

20 May - Fort Stewart (11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
School Age Center facility
97 Austin Road Bldg. 7160
Hinesville, GA
Telephone: 912-767-2635

For more information, contact Michelle Riley (912-598-2417), Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary’s Communications & Public Outreach Coordinator.

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Joggers, bikers, and pedestrians traversing the Noland Trail in The Mariners' Museum and Park, Newport News, Virginia, will be treated to a special glimpse of our maritime heritage in celebration of Get into Your Sanctuary Day. We invite you to stop by on May 19th to chat with marine archaeologists and learn how Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects and conserves the Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor. Also, learn how we are working with partners to survey and document World War II shipwrecks from the Battle of the Atlantic off the North Carolina coast. While there, pick up your sanctuary brochure and a paper model to make your own USS Monitor. For more information, contact Dave Alberg, Superintendent, at

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Get into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and view some of the world's largest animals. Whale watching season has started, and the opportunities for viewing these magnificent creatures are offered from ports around the region. Commercial whale watch trips depart from Newburyport, Gloucester, Boston, Plymouth, Barnstable Harbor and Provincetown. While out at sea, check the variety of bird species that enjoy the bounty of the Bank! For more information, contact

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Shipwreck Tours

Enjoy FREE cruises all weekend (May 19-20) to explore the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary aboard the Lady Michigan glass bottomed boat. Spots fill up fast, so come early to make sure you can enjoy this unique opportunity.

Sanctuary Cinema

Join us in the sanctuary visitor center theater for a FREE selection of short films showcasing the recreational opportunities in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Doors open for this evening event at 6:30 p.m., and show time begins at 7:00 p.m.

For more information, contact


August Activities

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is home to an extremely rich and diverse array of marine mammals, including humpback whales and blue whales, making it one of the best places in the world for viewing whales and other wildlife. Hop aboard one of the local commercial vessels that can take you out to sanctuary waters for a whale of an adventure!  Look for Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteers aboard these trips and feel free to ask them lots of questions. For more information, contact

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries, in collaboration with the International Ocean Film Festival, present, Get Into your Sanctuary Ocean Film Event at the Point Arena Theatre
When: 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Point Arena Theatre
What: Watch selected films from the International Ocean Film Festival
Tickets: $10
In special recognition of US Veterans, free tickets will be offered to veterans with ID.
For more information, contact

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Learn about the wildlife of the Farallon Islands on a whale watch tour, explore coastal habitats on a kayak excursion, check out harbor seals from the seal viewing station at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, or come to the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center in the Presidio for a family workshop or a virtual dive into seven different national marine sanctuaries. For more information, contact

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Visitors to the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz can check out the many ways that local partners and businesses get people out and into the sanctuary. Learn about surfing, kayaking, SCUBA diving, stand-up paddle boarding, and how to interact with wildlife in a safe and responsible way. Equipment demos will run from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Ocean Etiquette presentations will run between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. For more information about these activities, contact

Those checking out the southern end of the sanctuary from the Coastal Discovery Center in San Simeon on August 4th can join sanctuary staff for free public presentations and activities, including a talk about whales of the Central Coast at 10:00 a.m., plankton sampling from the pier at 11:00 a.m., and a talk about the history of shore whaling at 1:00 p.m. For more information, contact

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo

Guided Hike to Ozette Archaeological site:  The Olympic Coast has sustained human communities for at least 6,000 years and possibly much longer. Native American villages were located at protected harbors and river mouths where people practiced ocean and river-dependent hunting, gathering, fishing and whaling activities. Artifacts from one prehistoric site, the Ozette archaeological site near Cape Alava, provide a window into the daily life of that culture immediately before European contact.  Archaeological exploration uncovered six longhouses and their respective contents, including over 55,000 artifacts. The Makah Tribe curates and interprets this unique collection on site and at the Tribe-run Makah Museum. A Makah Museum guide will lead a public hike from the Lake Ozette ranger station to the Makah archeological site (nine miles roundtrip).  For more information, contact

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary facebook logo twitter logo


Get Into Your Sanctuary Day at the Waikiki Aquarium (2777 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815) on Saturday, August 4:

  • 9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. – "Meet the HIHWNMS Inflatable Humpback Whale" and take part in family friendly educational whale activities
  • 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 12:00 p.m. – "Life and Times of the Humpback Whale" talks on the outside lawn.
  • Name the Whale! contest


Come by the visitor center in Kihei for a special Sanctuary Saturday on August 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.! There will be a 45 Ton Talk and whale activities for kids.


Join sanctuary staff Saturday, August 4 at the Kauai Northshore King Tides Citizen Science Workshop, conducted by Hawaii Sea Grant: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Hale Halawai Ohana O Hanalei, 5299 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei. Learn about how you can participate in the King Tides project that takes place along the north shore in the sanctuary!

For more information, contact

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa facebook logo

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is partnering with three local businesses on Tutuila Island, to host "Get Into Your Sanctuary as a Virtual Dive Expedition" on August 4th. At each of the locations, visitors, customers and residents will be able to see virtual dives of sites in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The experiences will be led by a guide to showcase the vibrant and healthy coral ecosystems found in the different areas. For more information, contact the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa's office at 684-633-6500.

Locations and times of activities on August 4:

  • Neil's Ace Home Center: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
  • Laufou Shopping Center (inside mall): 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Cost U Less: 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument facebook logo

Celebrate the 2018 International Year of the Reef at the Hilo Mokupāpapa Discovery Center by enjoying Get Into Your Sanctuary Day activities that focus on coral reefs around the sanctuary system. Join in the family fun by taking part in a reef seascape pottery activity, build a coral reef activity, and explore a 3D coral reef model with NOAA Coral Program partners, and more. We will also host a special screening of the movie, Chasing Coral, with an opportunity to also learn about how coral reefs colonize new lava flows from our National Park Service partners. For more information contact