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“A wonderful resource, especially for children”
Review of Ocean Institute

Ocean Institute
Ranked #1 of 1 Museums in Dana Point
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Irvine, California
Level Contributor
79 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“A wonderful resource, especially for children”
Reviewed December 25, 2013

Our grandson had enjoyed an overnight stay on the Pilgrim boat, and we had enjoyed short day trips to Dana Point right at the Ocean Institute' location, but we had an especially wonderful evening recently when they host a viewing of the annual lighted boat parade.

If you have a membership (very reasonable) there are lots of events and ways to enjoy the Ocean Institute, but even non-members can attend the boat parade viewing. It's a miniature version of the elaborate one in Newport Beach, but more intimate if you pay the modest fee ($5.00 each or $20 per family) to attend the evening festivities at the Ocean Institute. Everyone enjoyed a chili supper, with hot chocolate (marshmallows and whipped cream too!), stories on the Pilgrim and a chance to raise the sail, carols sung by costumed singers, arts and crafts for the little ones, and a prime spot to view the beautiful lighted boats on parade.

Our granddaughter loves the tanks with all kinds of sea life and plants. There are docents to explain the names of things. It's wonderful any time of year, but this evening during the Christmas season is really magical!

Visited December 2013
Thank SharonToji
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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116 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Rancho Santa Margarita, California
Level Contributor
102 reviews
46 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Summer Camp”
Reviewed November 30, 2013

My daughters participated in a week long summer camp here. They had a great experience. The institute teaches them a lot about the ocean and also about life at sea. Since we do not own a boat it was really interesting to hear all the things my daughters got to do on their ship adventures. They also got to make a lot of new friends. The best learning without knowing your learning. Only downfall is the camps are expensive. If you can afford to do it sign your kids up, they will love it.

Visited July 2013
Thank Jennifer W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Banning, Ca
Level Contributor
691 reviews
372 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 266 helpful votes
“Brig Pilgrim - Got Lucky”
Reviewed October 30, 2013

Got Lucky went the to the Institute on Sunday to see the Institute and the Brig. The web site did not have specific times that U could see the Brig. Found out that the Brig can ONLY BE VISITED on Sunday per the sign posted near the docking area. U have to purchase a entry to the Institute, get the hand stamp for latter Brig visit. I would call for information to the Institute on your intended schedule and visit.

ALL people at the Institute were very helpful and were glad to explain what they were doing or answer any questions that you may have. The exhibits were interesting.

The Brig visit and explanation was very good by the staff. If U are not able to climb up or down a ladder into the hold U may want to stay on deck to see the ship.

Visited October 2013
Thank Perkadventures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco, California
Level Contributor
29 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Great place for budding oceanographers of all ages”
Reviewed July 25, 2013

We attended a two day program for families with high school students and found it fascinating. The staff are very enthusiastic and love to talk about everything you see. They have a variety of programs for kids as young as 5 all the way through high school and beyond. The various exhibits include everything from Patrick, the actual sea star who inspired the character on Spongebob Squarepants, to reproductions of tall sailing ships, to the ability to modify and pilot an ROV in a large underwater tank. You can study the lifecycle of a jelly, learn about the environmental issues impacting the oceans as well as learn about the various ways the Ocean Institute conducts research in conjunction with various organizations around the world. They try to keep a hands on approach for kids to keep them engaged while they learn. Whether you want a little information or something more in depth, the Ocean Institute has a program available for you. They seemed to have multiple summer camp programs going on for kids while we were there. Our favorite activities included dissecting squid, learning about various forms of bioluminescence in ocean creatures and a whale watching trip about the OI's research vessel.

Visited July 2013
Thank Cpc94118
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tujunga, California, United States
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Spirit of Dana Point Pyrate Sailing”
Reviewed April 8, 2013

One Sunday a month from April throughout the summer months, the Spirit of Dana Point Tall Ship will take you on exciting Pyrate Adventures. Sailings are from 2 pm to 4:30 pm. Your crew is dressed in period costume and after you set sail, a couple of friendly pirates will appear on deck from below and entertain you will all sorts of little known facts about pirate lore and expressions. Feel free to take the helm and steer the ship under the guidance of your friendly captain or join others to help hoist the sails. Keep your eye on the ocean for dolphin and whale sightings. Kids get a free sword after the trip. Visitors arriving in costume are an added plus.
Dana Point also offers a museum with information about sea life, whale watching adventures on Saturdays and a gift shop with great items for kids of all ages. Discounts for members of the Ocean Institute are available at the gift shop and for sailings. All sailings are under $50 per person for members or visitors. Keep your eyes out for the Tall Ship Festival (held in September, I believe) offering vendors, tall ship tours, and battle sailings with several of the Tall Ships on the West Coast.

Visited April 2013
Thank Katie O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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