General Admission


General Admission
Headlands & Beyond: A Hands-on Exploration

The Ocean Institute invites you to explore the ocean’s underwater world and California’s fascinating maritime history through fun, interactive programs and family activities that indulge your ocean curiosity.

Weekday Offerings


On weekdays, our campus bustles with eager students on educational field trips, but we invite you explore our Headlands and Beyond exhibit area that includes:

  • Local sea creatures in the Rocky Reef tank
  • Interactive Globe
  • ROV touchscreen
  • Pop-up experiments
  • Children’s playscape

Each weekday, we focus on a different part of California’s unique ecosystem and history. Join us for:

  • Mollusk Monday: Did you know that scientists developed a surgical glue based on sea slug slime? Learn more about amazing invertebrates every monday. 
  • Tidepool Tuesday: Dive into ecosystems! Discover what crawls in tidepools, swims in kelp forests, and glows in the deep sea. 
  • Whale Wednesday: Swim inside on Wednesdays to learn more about marine mammals! Find out how dolphins hear and why whales sing. 
  • Thank-the-oceans Thursday: What can you do to help out oceans? Join us on Thursdays to find out!
  • Fin-tastic Friday: Did you know that sharks can sense electric fields? Learn more about sharks’ super abilities every friday. 

Facilities Open: Headlands & Beyond exhibit area with tours to the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center. 

Weekend Offerings

Saturday & Sunday

On weekends, we open the campus and welcome you to explore our site-wide, immersive journey into the mysteries of the Pacific Ocean. Come and learn all about Moon Jellies, encounter live animals in our Discovery Pool touch-tank, join in animal feedings, and even conduct squid dissections if you’re adventurous!

Weekends through November, learn more about a sailor’s life in the 1800’s with historic dock tours and activities guaranteed to spark your little scallywag’s curiosity! 

Facilities open: Headlands & Beyond exhibit, tidepool playscape, Maddie James Seaside Learning Center and  all labs inside the Ocean Education Center, the Brig Pilgrim.* 

*Tours of the Brig Pilgrim are offered on Sundays during regular admission hours. Please note that the Pilgrim will be closed for maintenance December 18- January 1.  

Private tours are available for groups of 10 or more. Must book at least two (2) weeks in advance.

Groups of 10 more receive special pricing of $5.00 per child and $7.50 per adult when you book in advance. Call us at (949) 496-2274 to reserve your tickets. 


Film Screening: Humpback Whales
A MacGillivray Freeman Film

Enjoy a spell-binding evening at the Ocean Institute for a special screening of MacGillivray Freeman’s Humpback Whales, narrated by two-time Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor. This up-close and personal look into the world of humpback whales includes a short presentation and question and answer session following the film. Join us as we unlock the secrets of the humpback whale.


Whale Tales
Festival of Whales 2017

During the festival weekends, a hands-on journey into the mysterious and captivating world of whales will allow visitors to explore a variety of fascinating phenomena unique to these magnificent animals. Guests follow the migration of the gray whale as they move through the facility, starting in Baja, moving on to the California Coast, and ending up in Alaska.

Along the way there will be opportunities to investigate how whales communicate and eat, to see how changes to the marine environment affects them, and to learn about ongoing research.


Public Closed Dates

Due to special events happening at the Ocean Institute, we will be closed the following days to the public.