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Events at the Ocean Institute

The Ocean Institute hosts unique fundraising events throughout the year to help support our educational programs, facility maintenance, save the ocean drives, and student aid funds. These exciting events are open to the community and play a pivotal role in promoting our mission of ocean education.

Sponsorship and donation opportunities are available for our fundraising events.

Kids' Watershed Conf.
January Featured Events
Jazz Festival
Girls in Ocean Science

On-going Events
Festival of Whales

Boat Show

 Boat Show

April Featured Events
Toshiba Tall Ships Festival
RHD Charity Regatta
 Boat Show

On-going Events
Weekend Exhibits

Annual Events

Ocean Institute Jazz Festival
The Ocean Institute's popular jazz fundraising weekend event partners with the Annual Dana Point Festival of Whales and combines renowned jazz artists with an elegant evening of epicurean dining, cocktails, and live and silent auctions. Past performers include Gerald Albright, David Benoit, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair and Peter White.

Event Overview

Friday is the opening night which offers a Wine and Appetizer Reception and Concert Performance, limited to 300 guests.

Saturday is the Premier Evening at the Ocean Institute and features a Gala Gourmet Dinner and Jazz Performance. The elegant, intimate affair includes a cocktail reception with passed canapés, and an award-winning, four-course taste extravaganza with wine pairing. The dinner is specially created for this event and prepared by celebrated local chefs from St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa, Montage Laguna Beach, and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. The evening also includes connoisseur silent and live auctions.

Sunday changes the pace with a relaxed lunch and a special Encore Performance. This unique experience includes a beer and wine tasting as well as a Bristol Farms gourmet boxed lunch and time for questions with the artists. All events are held at the Ocean Institute.

For more information call Eileen Hayden at 949-496-2274 x 337 or elhayden@ocean-institute.org.


Kids' Conference on Watersheds
The Ocean Institute launched its annual watershed program to teach 5th grade students from southern California about the science of the watersheds. 2,000 students per year participate in the program which provides them with the opportunity to present the findings of their studies to their peers, local elected officials, and professionals in the field.

The Watershed program is made possible through the generous support of Miocean, SIMA, Orange County Community Foundation, the Kenneth and Eileen Norris Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.


Girls in Ocean Science Teen Conference
February & March
These exciting conferences are dedicated to inspiring young women to pursue degrees and careers in the sciences. Sixteen prominent female scientists from around the country interact with the girls in a series of hands-on workshops aboard our research vessel, Sea Explorer, and in the Ocean Institute’s teaching labs. The conferences, split into two day-long programs, are designed for enthusiastic middle and high school girls who have an interest in science. Girls will explore careers in areas such as ocean conservation, marine biology and ecology, oceanography, and animal husbandry.


Festival of Whales

Celebrate the annual migration of the California Gray Whale! Join us as we participate in the community-wide event, which includes whale-themed activities and cruises. During festival weekends, explore a variety of fascinating phenomena unique to these magnificent animals. Activities include maritime history exhibits aboard the Pilgrim, an exploration of whale adaptations, such as feeding and echolocation, activities on the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, and an exhibit on whale falls. Children can also make crafts and dissect a fish.

Admission cost is $6.50 for Adults, $4.50 for children (4-12). Ocean Institute Members are free.

Cruises and Sails
Join one of our Marine Mammal Cruises and see whales in real life! Or, set sail aboard a Whale’s Tale Sailing Adventure to learn the historical relationship between whales and tall ships. For schedules and costs of the cruises, click on these links R/V Sea Explorer, Spirit of Dana Point, or call (949) 496-2274.

For complete festival information http://www.festivalofwhales.org/


30th Toshiba Tall Ships Festival
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM each day (Visiting Ship Tours conclude at 3:30 PM)

The Ocean Institute is celebrating its 30th year hosting the Toshiba Tall Ships Festival, the largest annual gathering of tall ships on the West Coast! Come and explore the majesty and wonder of tall ships through the smells, sounds and sights of real working tall ships. Interactive living-history encampments including blacksmiths, schrimshaw artists, and the infamous Port Royal Privateers are sure to entertain and amaze guests of all ages and are not to be missed. Come celebrate with us as we celebrate the area’s rich maritime history!

Participating tall ships typically include the brig Pilgrim, Spirit of Dana Point, Californian, Curlew,Exy Johnson, Irving Johnson, and the American Pride. Visiting ships are subject to change. For complete information about the festival visit: www.tallshipsfestival.com.


Richard Henry Dana Charity Regatta logoAnnual Richard Henry Dana Charity Regatta

September 2014
This premier event, sponsored by the Dana Point Yacht Club, benefits the Ocean Institute. 

The Regatta Includes:

  • Marine Corps Twilight Fishing Tournament
  • Sponsor's VIP reception/dinner
  • Junior Racing Event
  • Audi Cup, the PHRF, and Non-Spinnaker Racing
  • Saturday Morning Pancake Breakfast
  • Saturday night auction and live music at the Dana Point Yacht Club
  • Dinghy Poker Run
  • Stand-up Paddle Board Races

2014 Audi Cup Regatta Sponsored by
Audi Mission Viejo

All events are open to the public. For more info. and pricing, please visit www.dpyc.org.

Rotating Exhibits

On weekends, we open our doors to the public for a sneak peek into how we use ocean science, history, and literature to inspire life-long learners!

Monday through Friday we are closed to the public for school programs.

Public Hours:
Saturday & Sunday - 10:00am to 3:00pm

Admission Fee*:
Adult - $6.50
Child (age 3-12) - $4.50
Members - FREE
Teacher Club Members - FREE
*Admission fee includes Pilgrim Tour when applicable.

More info on our Weekend Programs >
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Tall Ships Festival Video
The Ocean Institute celebrates its 30th Tall Ship Festival anniversary.
View Video Clip >