Dive into Sunken History

What is Maritime Heritage?

National marine sanctuaries are living museums of America’s rich maritime history - stories of exploration, immigration, and creation of coastal communities. Sanctuary waters protect and preserve countless shipwrecks and even naval battlefields!

Throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System you have the opportunity to explore, discover, and appreciate historic, cultural, and archeological sites and stories that represent the connection between humans and our Great Lakes and ocean areas.

A diver swims near a sunken u-boat as fish swarm around

How to Experience Maritime Heritage

Whether you’re a water sports pro, learning the ropes from a local expert, or looking to explore from the comfort of your home there are many ways you can experience these underwater relics first hand!

a diver swims near a shipwreck

Diving and/or Snorkeling

Experience maritime heritage via diving and/or snorkeling in the following sanctuaries:

Diving Information

people Kyak over above a shipwreck in shallow waters

Kayaking and Paddling

Experience maritime heritage via kayaking and paddling in the following sanctuaries:

Kayaking and Paddling Information

people look at a shipwreck through a glass window in th bottom of a boat

Glass Bottom Boat Tours

Experience maritime heritage via glass bottom boat tours in the following sanctuaries:

A replica of uss monitor

Visitor Centers

Experience maritime heritage via visitor centers and exhibits in the following sanctuaries:

Visitor Center Information

a trail sign

Heritage Trails

Experience maritime heritage via shipwreck and heritage trails in the following sanctuaries:

Heritage Trail Information

a view inside a shipwreck

Virtual Dives and Experiences

Want to dive in virtually?Experience shipwreck sites from anywhere through virtual reality videos and other media and Learn about the discovery of these wrecks and get a 360° view.

Explore Additional Virtual Dives

When visiting and recreating, always be mindful!

  • Take only pictures and leave nothing behind
  • Refrain from moving, altering, or taking artifacts
  • Remember to always view wildlife responsibly!
  • If diving or snorkeling, practice good buoyancy
  • If kayaking, please use the sanctuary provided mooring system or refrain from anchoring on site

Check out more information about responsible diving and snorkeling on wreck sites within the sanctuaries here.