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Ocean Institute

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629
Phone Number: 19494962274
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10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Open now
See all hours
Mon - Fri 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sat - Sun 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

The Ocean Institute is open to visitors daily; weekdays, 10 am - 4 pm, and...

The Ocean Institute is open to visitors daily; weekdays, 10 am - 4 pm, and weekends, 10 am - 3 pm. As school children are engaging in ocean science and maritime history programs on weekdays, a smaller portion of the Institute is open weekdays and most of the facility on weekends. Enjoy hundreds of marine animals in aquaria, ocean-themed exhibits and take a tour of a tall ship. For an extra charge, take a tall ship sail or whale watching cruise.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 85 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 45
  • 19
    Very good
  • 14
  • 5
  • 2
Nice hands on experience for kids

This is a very nice little museum for kids. There are many hands-on activities and things to observe both inside and outside at the shore. The kids loved the chance to touch sea... read more

4 of 5 starsReviewed 2 days ago
Chicago, Illinois
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85 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
206 reviews
98 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

This is a very nice little museum for kids. There are many hands-on activities and things to observe both inside and outside at the shore. The kids loved the chance to touch sea creatures, turn the wheel on a land-bound ship, etc. There is enough variety that even the small kids did not get bored.

Thank RyanLChicago
seattle WA
Level Contributor
114 reviews
37 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

I was pretty disappointed in this place. I expected better displays than they delivered. It appears to be really more of a rudimentary working facility that let's the public in on weekends. There are some artful elements, but the tanks holding live specimens were arranged in a bewildering manner and not well labeled. Some of the staff and volunteers knew... More 

Thank kooikermom
Level Contributor
51 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2015

They do PHENOMENAL school and group programs here, but it's not a place you just show up with your kids and wander around. Try that and all you'll see is the gift shop. If you are considering this place for a group learning activity, I definitely recommend it.

Thank AuntJeanne
Fremont, California
Level Contributor
3,542 reviews
2,300 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1,969 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 1, 2015

We went to the Ocean Institute. We have also attended some of their events in the past such as the Jazz Festival, the Tall Ship Festival, talks, and so forth. Today we enjoyed seeing one of their tall ships The Pilgrim again. We also liked their area where one can practice tying nautical knots. There are other things to see... More 

Thank mini
West Rockport, Maine
Level Contributor
24 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 25, 2015

This institute does great work, but definitely geared towards children. We live in another coastal community so we had some questions about this coast, but none of the docents could answer our inquiries. A trip out on one of their excursions would be much more interesting.

Thank d b
Level Contributor
51 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2015

My daughter and I were fortunate to listen to a talk by a man who purchased a submarine for deep water explorations around the world. The institute has displays and talks frequently so good to check their schedule online.

Thank momentobello
Level Contributor
44 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed October 12, 2015

We attended this mid-week in August. There was a camp taking place then so there were two rooms to see. One room had plaques to read, the other was where our kids could climb on a plastic crab and octopus. I thought I was getting a deal when the price was $5 per person but we were robbed.

Thank cactusdave
Chino Valley
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2015

There were several little buildings to divide the learning areas. The boat trip was not running the day we were there as there was a teacher day special going on. Learned some very interesting things. Bring a lunch and cold drinks, there are picnic tables. The jetty was a very nice scene of the ocean with a staircase going down... More 

1 Thank Becki G
Kaysville, Utah
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2015

Great for small kids - not much their for older adults. Everything is geared for very young children.

1 Thank Brian W
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
37 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 6, 2015

I wish the volunteer outside would've told us it was closed to us and our two grandkids before we went in. Found out later it was only open to camps and groups M-F. The ticket person told us there was a limited area we could go in...but, we had no idea 'how small' that was. Not even worth the $5... More 

5 Thank Triptaker3355

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