Home to the nation’s only freshwater National Marine Sanctuary, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary interprets hundreds of years of nautical commerce which have created a rich landscape of maritime history and culture in the Alpena area. A destination maritime heritage center with exhibits and programs, museums with nautical exhibits, seven area lighthouses and maritime trails, tours and events bring the stories of ship captains, sailors and lighthouse keepers to life.
Shallow Shipwreck Exploration
If you are not a certified scuba diver you can still explore these underwater treasures by visiting the shallow shipwrecks of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Wrecks that are almost guaranteed to be visible in most conditions include the Portland near Bell Bay, the Albany in Albany Bay, and the Joseph S. Faye can be found with partial remains on the shoreline near the 40-Mile Point Lighthouse. Kayak, canoe, Stand Up Paddle Board, and snorkel some of the shallow water wrecks with this handy guide: Shallow Shipwreck Adventure Guide
Be safe! Before heading out on Lake Huron in a paddle vessel, check these basic safety tips to ensure a great adventure. Lake Huron Paddle Safety Guidelines & Tips
Take a closer look at Shipwreck Alley and this nationally significant collection of shipwrecks and see the vivid underwater landscape off the coast of Northeast Michigan.
Join us every Independence Day for a celebration like no other. The Thunder Bay Maritime Festival occurs every July 4th, and features glass-bottom boat tours, helicopter rides, music, and the popular Cardboard Boat Regatta.
Thunder Bay Maritime Festival
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary preserves a national treasure, nearly 200 historic shipwrecks in and around the bay. Lake Huron’s cold, fresh water preserves many of these shipwrecks intact and in water depths ranging from a few inches to 200 feet, making the sanctuary a popular destination for divers, snorkelers and kayakers. You can explore the history and archaeology of these wrecks at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the Sanctuary’s 20,000 square foot river front headquarters. Exhibits on Great Lakes maritime history and shipwrecks include the new “Exploring the Shipwreck Century” exhibit, a 9,000 square ft. permanent exhibit where visitors can experience elements of a traditional maritime museum combined with a hands-on discovery center featuring life-sized recreations of an
historic Great Lakes schooner and shipwreck sites, artifact displays, and interactive learning stations on technology and diving. Also featuring a sanctuary store, state-of-the-art education spaces, high-definition theater, and archaeological conservation lab. The admission-free Center is a great destination and the best place to begin exploring Thunder Bay. Please call for current hours of operation. While visiting Alpena, you may also want to explore the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection, one of the largest archival collections of Great Lakes maritime history in existence, located at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library.
500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena
Admission: Free | Hours: Open year round, check website for hours.
Glass-bottom Boat Shipwreck Tours: The Legends of Thunder Bay
Explore the shipwrecks of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary with Alpena Shipwreck Tours. The crystal clear waters and the large ‘glass bottom’ viewing wells allow you to ‘dive’ the wrecks – without getting wet. During our 2 hour cruise you will experience the magnificently preserved shipwrecks and the scenic shorelines of Thunder Bay. Learn the exciting tales of many famous ships and the history, legends and lore of Lake Huron. Get schedule and order tickets here.
500 W. Fletcher St., Alpena
Adults – $35, Age 12 and under – $10, Group Rates: $25 per ticket when 20 or more adult tickets are purchased online at least 3 days before cruise. Open: late May – early October, check website for hours.