|Address:||24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA 92629, USA|
So couple things: Its not a museum or aquarium, but rather a maritime education center, so they dont have a ton of tanks/exhibits. They do, however, have a number of interactive exhibits, plus a few tanks throughout the grounds that houses some neat local marine life - sharks, coral, etc. There is also a path on either side of the Insitute that leads to a really cool look-out point with benches and a jetty that you can walk along. It is free to the public and the institute generally has regularly scheduled tours throughout the day. It gets very busy during the week as they have lots of programs for children such as summer camps and sleepovers. Not all the exhibits are always available during the week as the campers have dibs on them! So best to call beforehand if you have something specific you want to see.. Everything is generally available on the weekends. They also maintain two tall ships (exact replicas of 1800s tall ships) and an exploration vessel that makes frequent departures (bio-luminescence evening cruises, whale watching cruises, etc.). Additionally, there is an annual fundraising raffle where you can win a million dollar laguna beach home - the tickets are $150 but they include a free individual membership with a single ticket and a free family membership with the purchase of more than one raffle ticket. There are also bonus prizes the earlier you buy your ticket, and you qualify for more prizes with purchasing more than 1 ticket. So definitely worth doing if your going to be buying a membership anyway. Finally, "Baby Beach" is right near the institute as well; which is a protected, netted, white-sand beach in the corner Dana Point Harbor that is great for young ones.
The Cruises on the RV Explorer boat are the best! We did a Sunday morning in October Marine Mammal Cruise and saw; Blue whale with a baby, 2 species of dolphins, sea lions, a giant mola mola fish that the captain knew where to find, and lots of diving birds. It was like a dolphin superhighway, huge pods of dolphins were jumping and cruising along under the boat almost the whole time. We got just a few feet from them in the bow of the boat where you can see underneath you. The dolphins rolled on their side to look at us and we could hear them talking. Going on the Ocean Institute cruise is so much better than a commercial whale watching tour because the biologists really know so much more about the behavior of the animals and they are so enthusiastic about their work. They were all so excited to see as many things as we did in one day. We asked a million questions and they even pulled up some plankton from down deep to show us under the microscopes on board. I felt like everyone was there for the mutual love and to learn about the ocean. You also get free admission in the Ocean Institute the day of your cruise, bonus! We are planning on doing the nighttime Bioluminescence cruise next =]
i am a fith grader and i went there on a trip yesterday, and the science experiemnts and stuff were fun, but when it got to the ship, (i got to expereience how a saior works) it was the most horrible part. My hands got rope burn, my feet hurt, i was wet head to toe, and it was raining. I dont like the ocean institute at all. Plus the ship reinactors also were very mean and strict. i dont like the trip. i advise yu not to go there. ಥ_ಥ
The Ocean Institute just jired the most fantastic new executive director, Dori Moorehead. Dori was formerly with The California Museum in Sacramento, where she brought new life to the Museum. Sacramentos loss is Dana Points gain. She will be sorely missed, but we congratulate her on her new journey.
Great place to stop in for a few minutes. I felt like it would be nice to have more to see and learn there, but its small and not meant to be a full day trip. Excellent learning center of youre strolling the area
This was so fun. My girlfriend and I came here to check it out and have some fun. Very awesome. Grand and Leo were a great help to us, they knew a lot and showed us around. Very friendly people
Last year I went out on one of their boats. We saw a hump back whale Very impressive. The Institute itself offers such wonderful education for kids.
Small town institute in picturesque Dana Point. Great for small children or just a weekend stroll. Loved it.
It is a great place to bring toddlers it teach them about our oceans and learn about the different animals
This place is amazing for families the small gift shop is awesome but in the afternoon Love the Sunsets
I have so many memories coming here when i was in 4th grade, wish to go back, love it
This place is great and educational for all. The best place in Dana my opinion
They provide interesting exploration programs to the public
Ju Be Fa Mar
We are going there on 2-23-16 I em in 5th grade
Great classrooms, practical application learning...
Very cool went twice second time right now
I went there for a field trip in 6th grade
Great summer programs for kids.
Great rocky beach hangout area
Educational and not expensive
Great research for the Kids
Awesome place for kids!
Very good hearted person
Learn about the ocean.
Food here is nice
It the best