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Ocean Institute Dana Point

Ocean Institute at Dana Point with tall ships in front

Don't miss the Ocean Institute Dana Point for a fun and educational experience at the beach. Learn about sea plants, fish and other sea animals in their natural environments. 

Spirit Of Dana Point sailing ship

Located at the west marina in Dana Point Harbor, it is an education center with aquariums, working marine labs and a full size replica of "The Pilgrim", the ship Richard Henry Dana described in his book, "Two Years Before The Mast". The public can actually go on the square-rigged ship to learn knot tying and sea chanteys.

People on the RV Sea Explorer boat in Dana Point

The institute also offers wildlife cruises led by scientists to see whales, dolphins and sea lions. In addition, they give harbor cruises and even summer snorkeling cruises to Catalina.

Each September, the Institute hosts the annual Toshiba Tall Ships Festival, where the public can come explore real tall ships and exhibits. You can actually take a short cruise on one of these ships.

For three days, the festival includes living-history demos, sea chantey concerts, cannon battles, lots of kid activities and public tours. Also enjoy Polynesian dancing and cannon battles! Much of the festival is free, but for certain activities there is a pass you can buy to get in.

A tall ships parade is held at sunset on the first day, and it includes the Brig Pilgrim which is docked year-round at Dana Point Harbor. To find out more about the next festival, go to

On the ocean side of the Institute, out on the point, people like to sit and watch the sun set, or watch the waves crash on the jetty.

People enjoying the sunset at beach at Dana Point near the Ocean Institute

The gift shop has various maritime and ocean themed gifts and decor.

The Institute is open to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays 10:00 to 3:00. During the week they have programs for school kids. You'll find them at 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive. For more info call 949-496-2274 or see them at

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