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Ocean Institute, Dana Point

3.9
#5 of 17 in Things to do in Dana Point
Science Museum Dolphin / Whale Watching
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TripAdvisor
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118 reviews
Google
4.6
  • We enjoyed the two-hour tour on the "Spirit of Dana Point," a hand-built reproduction of a circa 1770s schooner. The ship is crewed by four people, plus the captain. For those interested, the tour inc...  more »
  • This is a beautiful place but could be so much more. They need to have a constant flow of things to do. Once you pet the star fish and read about how man is destroying everything, or go on a tour of t...  more »
  • We came on the wrong day or we missed out on the special programs. It felt more like a learning center for school kids that needed a tour guide to enjoy. I took my teenager and we were done in about 3...  more »
Google
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • So couple things: It's not a museum or aquarium, but rather a maritime education center, so they don't 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 replica's of 1800's 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.