About This Trip
Recent Sightings: September 5th we saw 42 humpback & 3 killer whales!!! We also had great sightings of Tufted Puffin and the rarely seen Northern Gannet!! Click here to see our professional photographer's photos from that day!!
Departures: San Francisco Yacht Harbor | 9:30am-5:00pm | Every Saturday and Sunday | April-November 2021
Trip Details: Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge led by 3 wildlife biologists to the Farallon Islands, one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world! See and learn more with Oceanic Society due to our SMALL group sizes. You also get free photos from the day taken by our professional photographer. For more information, read the Detailed Itinerary section below.
Trip Capacity: 20 passengers (less than 50% of our boat's legal limit of 48 passengers!)
Whale Sightings Likelihood: There is a 98% chance of seeing whales May-November (based on the past 4o years of Oceanic Society sightings data)!
Age Limit: Age minimum 10
Departure Location: San Francisco Yacht Harbor (3950 Scott Street, San Francisco, CA 94123)
Parking: Free on site | For Parking Diagram & Additional Trip Details Click Here!
Any Questions?: Email firstname.lastname@example.org and get a fast response!
Clothing: With the potential for fog, wind and spray please wear waterproof shoes and outer layer. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are also musts.
Food & Beverages: Coffee and tea are available on board the boat. Please bring your own food. Alcohol is discouraged, but not prohibited. Backpacks are fine, but please, no coolers due to space limitations.
Weather: Trips go rain or shine, but may be cancelled due to high winds and/or high seas. All passengers will be notified via email and text should we need to cancel and you will have the option to reschedule or receive a full refund.
Policies: For cancellation policy, refund and reschedule policy, and other important terms, read our detailed Terms and Conditions.
Best Tour in the Bay Area ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
- TripAdvisor Member
Amazing Experience, a Must-Do! ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
- TripAdvisor Member
The Farallon Islands are just 27 miles from San Francisco and the ticket to this classic adventure is aboard the nonprofit Oceanic Society's Salty Lady, a 56-foot-long whale-watching boat equipped with friendly staff and a naturalist who's a virtual water-borne Wikipedia.
- Weekend Sherpa
The Oceanic Society runs top-notch, naturalist-led, ocean-going weekend boat trips – sometimes to the Farallon Islands – during both whale-migration seasons.
- Lonely Planet
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Oceanic Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. Your participation in our whale watch helps fund conservation efforts, such as our Critter Scholars Program, which delivers life-changing ocean experiences free of charge to underserved student groups and communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. We also use our whale watching cruises as an opportunity to collect photographic identification data on marine mammals, which we share with a network of researchers throughout the eastern Pacific. You can see our recently photographed whales on Happywhale. Learn more about Oceanic Society here.
Dates & Pricing
Our vessel, the 56-foot Salty Lady, departs from San Francisco Yacht Harbor at 9:30am. On every trip we provide a whale expert, a seabird expert, a professional photographer (who shares photos with you for free!) and a wildlife sightings recorder. No matter what animals we see, our experts will tell you all about them and they will be photographed and recorded in digital databases to support research and conservation.
To start the trip, we cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, often seeing harbor porpoises along the way, and travel up the coastline of the Marin Headlands. We then check in at Diablo Cove to see the hauled-out harbor seals and the occasional Black Oystercatcher birds on the rocks. From there, we head past Point Bonita Lighthouse and begin our 27-mile journey through the open ocean to the Farallon Islands, humpback whale watching and birding all along the way.
A little under 2 hours later, we pull into the calm waters of Fisherman’s Bay at Southeast Farallon Island. There, we soak in the incredible marine habitat which supports over 300,000 breeding seabirds, over 5,000 seals and sea lions and over 100 great white sharks in the fall months (disclaimer: it is very rare to see sharks on our trips, but they are there!). There are also several resident gray whales to see at the Farallon Islands, one of the only places in the world to see them outside of Alaskan waters during the summer months.
After taking that in, we cruise over to the south side of the Farallones where the biologists who study and preserve the islands live. (Please note: at no point during the trip do we set foot on the islands, they are off-limits to the public.) Next, we visit the huge colony of northern fur seals, which is growing year after year despite being hunted to local extinction in the late 1800s. Weather permitting, we then travel past the islands to the Farallon Escarpment, where the ocean floor drops off from roughly 300 to 3,000 feet very quickly. This area is where we can find rarely-seen deep-water seabirds (including albatross), a large variety of dolphins and porpoises, and enormous, magnificent blue whales.
From there we begin making our way back to San Francisco Bay seeking out more whale encounters along the way. We often have beautiful sunny conditions and great photographic opportunities coming back under the Golden Gate Bridge. We arrive back in San Francisco right around 5:00pm and our wildlife experts will give a summary of what we saw and our photographer will have a link to images from the day ready for you to view or share as you wish. What a great day!
The Salty Lady is a 56-foot U.S. Coast Guard certified fishing vessel with a maximum capacity of 48 passengers. The Sausalito based Salty Lady is owned and operated by Captain Jared Davis, a longtime Oceanic Society partner who is experienced in nature…