The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977, is a community-based 501(c)(3) organization that educates 100,000 children, teachers, parents, and visitors annually through over 60 marine science and maritime history programs. We are located on 2.4 acres in the Dana Point Harbor; adjacent to a Marine Life Conservation Area. The facility is an ocean education center that offers in-depth Marine Science, Maritime History and Outdoor Education programs.
The Institute grew steadily from inception to the point that the facilities were at 100% capacity. In 1999, the Board of Directors voted to expand, and initiated a capital fundraising campaign for the design and construction of new facilities. Construction of the six building, 33,800 sq. ft. campus began in early 2001. It took 18 months to build at a cost of $16.5 million, all generously donated by numerous friends from throughout the country. The capstone occasion came in October 2002 when the new Ocean Education Center opened for the people of Southern California and beyond.
The Institute includes state-of-the-art teaching labs, the spectacular Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, a historic tall ship, and an oceanographic research vessel. Immersion-based field trips range from one-hour science labs to multi-day programs at sea. All programs are designed to maximize immersion, spark curiosity, and inspire a deep commitment to learning.