The growing economic feasibility of renewable energy, caused in large part by the climate crisis, has expanded the number of locations in which humans can feasibly harness and use electricity. Wave energy, in particular, has the potential to power oceanographic measurements, remote communities, and other applications that may lack sufficient electricity due to limited grid access in ocean or coastal areas. However, as a relatively nascent renewable energy technology, less is known about the suitability and optimal characteristics of wave energy in off-grid applications. This thesis explores off-grid wave energy by focusing on its potential contributions to ocean observation, in which autonomous instrument packages can be powered by a wave energy converter (WEC) to collect information on metocean, biogeochemical, and ecological processes. Historically, constraints associated with battery-, vessel-, and cable-powered observations have limited the range, endurance, continuity, persistence and flexibility of these measurements, in turn restraining our understanding of marine ecosystems. This has driven decades of innovation to add “in-situ” power generation, such as wave energy, that enables new opportunities for ocean research. Aiding these efforts, this thesis presents optimization frameworks that simulate off-grid wave energy systems and identify costoptimal system design, as well as potential enhancements that may improve the suitability of wave energy for ocean observation and, consequently, off-grid applications in general.