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Public Programs Overview

R/V Sea Explorer

Journey aboard a 70-foot floating laboratory with five distinct teaching areas fully equipped with video microscopes, touch tanks, viewing aquariums, and state-of-the-art electronics.

Programs Onboard the R/V Sea Explorer
Morning Breeze Music Cruise
Marine Wildlife Cruise
Marine Mammal Cruise (seasonal)

Bioluminescence Night Cruise (seasonal)
Catalina Snorkeling Cruise (seasonal)
Blue Whale Safari (seasonal)
4th of July Fireworks Cruise (seasonal)

Learn More About the R/V Sea Explorer>

Spirit of Dana Point

spirit of Dana PointCome sail the Institute's 118-foot historic tallship. Spirit of Dana Point is a full size replica of a Baltimore clipper schooner. Year 'round sails - don't miss our famous cannon battle cruises!

Programs Onboard the Spirit
"Pyrate" Adventure Sail
Cannon Battles (seasonal)

Learn More About the Spirit >

Brig Pilgrim

Brig PilgrimSymbol of Dana Point, the Pilgrim is a full size replica of the hide brig immortalized by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. in his American seafaring classic novel Two Years Before the Mast.

Most Sundays the Pilgrim hosts an "Open House" for the public. The Pilgrim also hosts a variety of dramatic and musical maritime theatrical performances during the spring and summer months. Families and individuals of all ages are invited to come aboard and learn more about our unique nautical heritage.

Learn More About the Pilgrim >

Artist by the Sea
Artist by the Sea

Lecture Series

Don't miss the Ocean Institute's new, monthly lecture series. Our Artist by the Sea events feature a variety of inspirational artists.

Click here to learn more about past and upcoming lectures.>

Artist by the Sea: Kids

Participants will have the opportunity to work "up close and personal" with professional artists with ocean education and inspiration in mind. Follow in the footsteps of our artists as they share how the world's oceans have inspired them and have the opportunity to create your own masterpiece. The ocean is the perfect place to foster creativity and fun, and what better doorway to the ocean than the Ocean Institute!
Learn More >


Weekend FishThe exhibits at the Ocean Institute are designed to provide multiple levels of depth and interactivity for the public and our student visitors. We know that some visitors prefer simply to walk through and look. For these visitors, the exhibits provide stimulating learning opportunities. From there, visitors can then involve themselves in various levels of interactivity.

Visitors can participate in a variety of family-friendly experiences including 20 minute lab activities, viewing sea creatures, enjoying Octopus and Jellyfish feedings, and even driving a Remotely Operated Vehicle!

On Sundays, visitors are treated to a behind the scenes look onboard the Ocean Institute's historic brig Pilgrim, which hosts unique Living History programs based on the book Two Years Before the Mast.

Learn More About Weekend Programs >

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At a Glance: Public Hours
Weekends: 10am-3pm
Pilgrim open most Sundays: 11am-3:30pm
$6.50/adult $4.50/child (3-12yrs)
Members and children 2 yrs and under are free.

Cruise Prices* (Min. age 4yrs)
$35/adult (Members: $22/adult)
$22/child (Members: $19/child)

Sail Prices* (Min age 4yrs)
$40/adult (Members: $36/adult) $23/child (Members: $21/child)

*Includes weekend admission.

A processing fee is added to all credit card, phone, and internet reservations.

Download our events calendar (PDF - 1.8MB)
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ocean institute programs
California Travel Expert
View video clip of the Ocean Institute as seen on California Travel Expert with Veronica Hill.
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