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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 and sustainable recreational activities that generate considerable benefits for local economies.

This year NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting its fifth national "Get into Your Sanctuary" celebration to raise awareness about the value of our national marine sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation through a series of special activities. These events will begin over the long weekend of August 2-4, 2019 across the National Marine Sanctuary System – from sea to shining sea.

Whether you're already an avid outdoors person looking for a new adventure or you've never been kayaking, fishing, or taken advantage of our amazing underwater parks, this weekend is for YOU!

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 responsible recreation.

Site Events

A diver swims next to the 'Big Momma' coral head

Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA

Wednesday, August 1, 2019. 9:00am - 11:00am
Explore American Samoa's Deep Sea with E/V Nautilus

The final live ship-to-shore interaction with E/V Nautilus at Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center. Open to the public and youth groups for registration.

Friday, August 2, 2019. 9:00am - 11:00am
Virtual Dives mo Tagata Matutua

Outreach event connecting the American Samoa veteran community with our special underwater places through virtual reality. Held at the Veterans Affairs building in Tafuna.

Saturday, August 3, 2019. 8:00am - 1:00pm.
Sanctuary Summer Fun Day in Aunu`u

Get Into Your Sanctuary with a summer fun day in Aunu`u. Take a short boat ride for a fun day of adventures. Go hiking, snorkeling, fishing, or learn how to weave! Open to the public for registration. Call 684-633-6500 or email

Monday, August 5, 2019. 9:00am - 11:00am
Vet Into Your Sanctuary

Bringing special places to our senior citizen community through virtual reality experiences. Held at the TAOA building in Pago Pago.

For more information, click here.

People whale watching from a boat

Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA

Channel Islands Naturalist Corps will be on hand to explain the region’s diverse ecology and introduce visitors to marine life on whale watch tours and island hikes all weekend. Discover first-hand why these islands have been referred to as the “Galapagos of North America.” Why not explore on a naturalist led tour? Visitors can also experience the lush kelp forests and mysterious sea caves of the Channel Islands on a kayak tour or fishing charter, or by scuba diving, snorkeling, or boating. If you don't want to get your feet wet, dive into the national marine sanctuary on the mainland at our partner visitor centers. Be sure to take lots of photos during your visit to Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and enter them into the 2019 “Get into Your Sanctuary” photo contest or share using #ILoveMySanctuary!

August 2-4, 2019 10:00am - 2:30pm
Whale Watch Tours with a National Marine Sanctuary Naturalist - Condor Express, Sea Landing, Santa Barbara Harbor

Sunday, August 4, 2019 10:00am - 4:00pm
Whale Watch Tour with a National Marine Sanctuary Naturalist - Island Packers, Ventura Harbor

For more information, click here.

A diver shines a light on corals

Photo: Joe Hoyt

Saturday, August 3, 2019 3:00pm - 5:30pm
Ocean Film Shorts at Arena Theater - Arena Theater, 214 Main Street, Point Arena, California 95468
Watch selected films from the 2019 International Ocean Film Festival followed by a panel discussion. In special recognition of U.S. Veterans, free tickets will be offered to veterans with ID. Tickets for others will be $10.

For more information, click here.

A moray eel

Steve Lonhart/NOAA

Saturday, August 3, 2019 11:00am - 2:00pm

In Key West, join us for an Eco-Fair at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center on the Truman Waterfront on August 3, 12:00 - 3:00pm. Visit with conservation partners and learn how your actions can make a positive difference.

For more information, click here.

The silhouette of a manta ray

Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is about 100 miles offshore, too far for most people to visit in person. You can, however, learn about and experience this national marine sanctuary by visiting one of several different aquarium exhibits. Moody Gardens (Galveston, TX), Texas State Aquarium (Corpus Christi, TX), Cameron Park Zoo (Waco, TX), Children's Aquarium at Fairpark (Dallas, TX) and Tennessee Aquarium (Chattanooga, TN) all have great sanctuary aquariums. If you cannot make it to any of these sites, then check it out on the web or Facebook

For more information, click here.

Two fishermen on a small boat in open water

Photo: NOAA

Friday, August 2, 2019
Learn About Diving in Gray’s Reef

Join us at the Southern Dive Center in Statesboro, GA to learn about diving in Gray’s Reef, including experiencing virtual reality dives of this national marine sanctuary.

Saturday, August 3, 2019
There will be a variety of activities surrounding Gray’s Reef for “Get Into Your Sanctuary” weekend! They include diving in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, driving by the Nancy Foster, a NOAA Research Vessel operating at Gray’s Reef, and meeting with a member of the Gray’s Reef science team to learn about research being conducted in this national marine sanctuary.

Sunday, August 4, 2019
Activities from Saturday will continue into Sunday for “Get Into Your Sanctuary” Weekend. They include diving in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, driving by the Nancy Foster, a NOAA Research Vessel operating at Gray’s Reef, and meeting with a member of the Gray’s Reef science team to learn about research being conducted in this national marine sanctuary.

For more information, click here.

An elephant seal with other seals lying in the background

Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA

We hope that you’ll join us at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary for a weekend full of exciting events. GFNMS is a globally significant, extraordinarily diverse, and productive marine ecosystem that supports abundant wildlife and valuable fisheries. It provides breeding and feeding grounds for blue, gray, and humpback whales, harbor seals, elephant seals, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and threatened Steller sea lions; over a quarter-million breeding seabirds; and one of the most significant white shark populations on the planet.

Friday, August 2, 2019. 10:00am - 2:00pm
Kent Island Restoration

Saturday, August 3, 2019. Available at 10:00am or 1:00pm
Greater Farallones Octolab Family Workshops

Sunday, August 4, 2019. 8:00am - 4:00pm
Farallon Islands & Whale Watching Excursion

Friday, August 2, 2019 thru Sunday, August 4, 2019
Virtual Reality Dives & Other Visitor Center Exhibitions
- 991 Marine Dr, San Francisco, CA 94129
Come enjoy a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Greater 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. Visitors will also be able to complete virtual dives using virtual reality technology.

For more information, click here.

A breaching humpback whale

Photo: J.Moore/NOAA

Saturday, August 3, 2019. 6:30pm
Movie Night
"Humpback Whales," produced by MacGillivray Freeman and filmed for IMAX Movie, is appropriate for all audiences and features awesome footage and engaging music.

Sunday, August 4, 2019. 10:00am - 3:00pm
Humpback Whale Day - Maui Visitor Center

Join us for "Humpback Whale Day" at the Maui Visitor Center. Meet and talk with a whale researcher and visit Kamakai, the life size inflatable humpback whale (you can even go inside him). Virtual reality tours of the ocean floor will be available in the visitor center. Try fish printing and kids can help paint an underwater mural. Join us from 10:00-3:00 for the fun.

For more information, click here.

The wreck of the USS Monitor

Photo: NOAA

Come explore Monitor National Marine Sanctuary without getting your feet wet! Learn about the infamous Civil War ironclad that saved the Union, and how it sank on New Year's Eve 1862, just off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Learn how it was discovered in 1973 and when it became our nation's first national marine sanctuary. Dive into Monitor expeditions to recover artifacts and discover how artifacts and the shipwreck are being conserved today. Also, discover how we are working to protect other World War II shipwrecks just off the coast. Fun activities for the whole family!

For more information, click here.

volunteers in kayaks on the water

Photo: G. Stewart

A personal visit is a great way to experience the beauty of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) and understand the need to protect this special place. Try your hand at kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, diving, whale watching or a stroll on one of the many beaches lining this national marine sanctuary.

Sanctuary Exploration Center - 35 Pacific St., Santa Cruz, CA
Friday, August 2, 2019. 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Saturday, August 3, 2019 and Sunday, August 4, 2019. 10:00am - 5:00pm

Check out a pop-up Virtual Reality experience and go on a dive into kelp forest. Learn how and where you can best experience wildlife within a short walk from the Exploration Center through a scavenger hunt-- win a prize! Also, come see the Waves and Wildlife photo exhibit with photographs from within California State Marine Protected Areas.

Coastal Discovery Center - CA-1 & Slo San Simeon Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452
Saturday, August 3, 2019. 11:00am - 3:00
Coastal Discovery Center in San Simeon near Hearst Castle will host a variety of naturalist led activities for the family.

  • Come fish from San Simeon Pier with the Cambria Fishing Club.
  • Collect and view plankton and learn about national marine sanctuary stories.
  • View and identify seabirds with skilled birders.
“Get Into Your Sanctuary” by Kayak!
Whether you are going out on a rental, tour or taking a class, you will have the opportunity to get into this national marine sanctuary with trained staff and guides from Monterey Bay Kayaks.

For more information, click here.

A surfer riding a wave

Photo: Darryl Wood/NOAA

Wednesday, July 17, 2019. 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Port Angeles Concert on the Pier celebrating 25 years of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

This is a free community concert hosted by Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and City of Port Angeles, featuring live music, educational booths and family fun activities to celebrate Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary's 25th anniversary.

Monday, July 22, 2019. 10:00am - 5:00pm
Olympic Coast Discovery Center Celebration

We will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary with family friendly games, hands-on activities, appearances by Sanctuary Sam, and cake.

Friday, August 2, 2019. 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Kalaloch Lodge Sip and Paint with Local Artist Todd Fischer

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Kalaloch Lodge will host a sanctuary inspired ”Sip and Paint" wine tasting and art instruction event at Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park. This is a great event to kick off your “Get Into Your Sanctuary” adventures!

Friday, August 2, 2019. Meet at Beach 4 Trailhead at 7:00am
Saturday, August 3, 2019. Meet at Beach 4 Trailhead at 8:00am
World-class Tidepool and Beach Exploration at Beach 4 at Kalaloch

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary experts will be leading tidepool and beach exploration groups for “Get Into Your Sanctuary” days. During these incredibly low tides, it's a great place to discover marine life and get into your sanctuary

Saturday, August 3, 2019. Sunday, August 4, 2019
Vet Into Your Sanctuary Fishing Trips

Aboard the Neah Bay fishing charter boat Windsong, U.S veterans and their families will have a chance to go on a special fishing trip for “Get Into Your Sanctuary” weekend.

For more information, click here

People looking at an aquarium in a visitor center

Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA

Friday, August 2, 2019 and Saturday, August 3, 2019
“Get Into Your Sanctuary and Monument Day” - Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo

A day of fun family activities at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo to learn about your National Marine Sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Take a virtual dive with new VR gear, learn about underwater robotics, and play fun games to explore your underwater parks.

For more information, click here

A whale breaching with people watching form a boat in the background

Photo: Ari Friedlaender/Duker

Saturday, August 3, 2019 and Sunday, August 4, 2019
Scituate Heritage Days

Come see the staff of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at Scituate Heritage Days! There will be Salt, an inflatable life-sized humpback whale, tours and virtual reality in addition to updates on upcoming events at Stellwagen. Get connected!

For more information, click here

People paddling homemade rafts across a river

Photo: NOAA

Saturday, August 3, 2019 and Sunday, August 4, 2019
We invite you to explore the nation's only freshwater sanctuary. With 200 of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the world and miles of beautiful shoreline, the sanctuary offers incredible diving, snorkeling, paddling, and fishing in Lake Huron’s crystal-clear water. Start your adventure in downtown Alpena and tour the sanctuary’s free shipwreck museum and experience Great Lakes shipwrecks up-close on a glass bottom boat tour. Come and learn about the many ways YOU can “Get Into Your Sanctuary!"

For more information, click here

Photo Contest

Our photo contest is a great opportunity to show off your adventures in national marine sanctuaries. The contest will be open from May 25 to September 2 (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend).

Tell us about your favorite national marine sanctuary using #ILoveMySanctuary!

KNOW before you GO

Please be familiar with and follow regulations and obtain proper licences.