12 Days of Christmas at Ocean Institute
Keep your kids learning over the school break with daily holiday fun & activities

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It’s the ultimate count-down for ocean-lovers! Every day Ocean Institute is giving gifts of discounts, activities, and holiday fun so your family can make memories and learn together every day during the school break. Kids become ‘Junior Naturalists’ through ocean-science activities and understanding how to be kind to our oceans– ensuring they’ll be on Santa’s nice list this year!

On the 1st Day of Christmas…Guided Tours & Ornament Sale

Wednesday 12/13

Learn about the underwater world with a guided tour through ocean exhibits and sea creature habitats! Visit our gift store to pick out an ocean-themed ornament to remember your day.

All ornaments are Buy one get one 15% off through December 15th in the gift shop.

On the 2nd Day…Cookies & Hot Cocoa 

Thursday 12/14

You’ll be welcomed with cookies & hot cocoa where you’ll learn about the feeding habits of our local marine life. Starting at 11:00 and continuing on the hour until 3:15, take a guided tour through ocean exhibits and sea creature habitats. Finish up in our gift shop to pick out ocean-themed ornaments to trim your tree with memories of the day. 

All ornaments are buy one get one 15% off. 

On the 3rd Day: Sea Creature Art Contest

Friday 12/15

Attention artists! Draw a picture of your favorite ocean creature at home, bring it in to the Ocean Institute, and use it as your free admission ticket!  Starting at 11:00 and continuing on the hour until 3:15, take a guided tour through ocean exhibits and sea creature habitats. Cocoa and cookies are waiting for you!  

Plush animals in the gift store will be 20% off for the day.

On the 4th Day: Become a Junior Naturalist on a Whale Eco-Tour

Saturday 12/16

Join us for a Whale Watching lecture and Eco-Tour at 9:00! All children will receive a Junior Explorer Membership and earn a Junior Naturalist Certificate upon completion of our Eco-Tour. Visit our store to take advantage of a whale of a good deal…

20% off all whale-related merchandise.

On the Fifth Day: Holiday Candle-making workshop

Sunday 12/17

Make a loved one a homemade gift and discover the science of scent in a DIY candle-making workshop with local candle maker – tH&R Collective. All candles in the gift shop will be 20% off!  

All candles in the gift shop will be 20% off.

On the Sixth Day: Merry Maritime Pilgrim Ship Tours

Monday 12/18

Join the fun and pretend you’re a sailor for the day! Tour the historic tall ship the Brig Pilgrim, learn real sailor knot tying skills and make a one-of-a-kind ornament to take home. 

Help us celebrate Ocean Institute’s 40th Anniversary admission for only 40 cents per child with a paid adult all week.

On the 7th Day: Hot Cocoa & Tidepool Storytime

Tuesday 12/19

Join us for story time at the Ocean Institute at 11:00! Sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the Ocean Institute’s favorite stories for four to eight year olds: “Your Shell is Swell”.  After the story take time to picnic on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and explore our ocean science exhibits before taking off on a guided Tide Pool Hike at 2 p.m! Our young visitors will earn a Junior Naturalist Certificate and a receive a Junior Explorer Membership upon completion of the hike! 

Finish your day in our gift store and enjoy 20% off all books.  all our great book selection.

On the 8th Day: Whale Wednesday

Wed 12/20

Join us for a Whale Watching lecture and Eco-Tour at 9:00! All children will receive a Junior Explorer Membership and earn a Junior Naturalist Certificate upon completion of our Eco-Tour. Free admission to ocean-themed exhibits and labs are included so plan time for whale crafts and hands on fun after the trip. 

Visit our store to take advantage of a whale of a good deal…20% off all whale related merchandise.

On the 9th Day: Holiday spirit on the Spirit of Dana Point with Santa from 11:00 – 3:00! 

Thursday 12/21

Join us for a Whale Watching lecture and Eco-Cruise at 9:00! After the cruise head over to the Tall Ship Spirit of Dana Point for a special holiday ship tour and photos with Santa from 11 to 3 p.m.

All children will receive a Junior Explorer Membership and earn a Junior Naturalist Certificate upon completion of our Eco-cruise!

On the 10th Day: Mele Kalikimaka Whale Watching Eco-Tour at 9:00

Friday 12/22

Join a special Aloha Friday Whale Watching Eco-Tour where kids will earn their Junior Naturalist Certificate! Enjoy our exhibits and make an eco-friendly lei after the trip! 

We’d like to welcome you back on Dec. 26th to enjoy your discount on our visiting tall ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain!  Check our web site for sail dates and times. Ocean Institute Members will receive 30% off and non members 10% off the sail price.

All whale merchandise will be 20% off in the store with proof of same-day whale watch.

On the 11th Day: Caroling with the Whales

Saturday 12/23

Learn about whale songs during our special holiday caroling Whale Watching Eco-Tour at 9:00. Join us for exciting hands on science during the cruise and enjoy cookies, hot cocoa and holiday tunes.  All children will receive a Junior Explorer Membership and earn a Junior Naturalist Certificate upon completion of our Eco-cruise! After the cruise learn even more at our Ocean Institue Naturalist Talks at 11:15 a.m. & 1:15 p.m. 

All whale merchandise will be 20% off in the store with proof of same-day whale watch.

On the 12th Day: Santa’s  Ocean“Nice List” 

Sunday 12/24

Tag OI and win a free pass to our Ocean Explorer Winter Day Camp! Take a photo doing something nice for the oceans and tag Ocean Institute with hashtag: #12daysatoceaninstitute when you post on Facebook or Instagram for a chance to win a free pass to our Ocean Explorer Winter Day Camp (value $85). Here are just a few photo ideas…

  • Picking up trash on the beach
  • Using a re-usable drink container
  • Wrapping your presents in recycled or re-purposed paper
  • Bringing a re-usable bag for last minute holiday shopping 
  • Creating a hand-made eco-friendly Christmas gift

Monday, December 25th: Happy Holidays!!!!