About This Trip
- Cruise to the Farallon Islands for the opportunity to see humpback and blue whales, the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous U.S., and more.
- Benefit from Oceanic Society’s 50+ year history in the Bay Area as you explore the region’s marine and coastal habitats through our lens.
- Look for wild river otters and learn about research and conservation efforts.
- Custom trips are available for groups of 2 or more, year-round.
Oceanic Society was founded in San Francisco in 1969 and today we still call the Bay Area home. Take advantage of our extensive network of naturalists, photographers, and conservation partners on a 2 to 4-day guided nature program in the San Francisco Bay area. Enjoy a whale watching trip to the incredible Farallon Islands (available April through November) for the opportunity to see feeding humpback and blue whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions, and the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous United States. We’ll also visit the River Otter Ecology Project to learn about their research on the little-known river otter population in northern California and to look for wild river otters, and we'll explore Point Reyes National Seashore, a breathtaking natural area home to tule elk, bobcats, coyote, raptors, elephant seals, and more.
Custom activities, dates, and program lengths are also available to suit your interests and timeframe—contact us to discuss your needs.
Notes on Trip Costs
Custom dates and itineraries are available upon request, year-round for groups of 2 or more. Trip price includes arranged activities and local naturalist guide only. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.
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Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Your expedition costs include fees that support conservation and promote sustainable livelihoods in the communities we visit, and Oceanic Society's earnings are invested back into our global research and conservation programs. In 2019, we also established our Expedition Impact Fund (EIF) as a way to grow our impact. The fund is seeded annually with money earned from our expeditions, and supplemented by donations from Oceanic Society travelers. Through the EIF, we award grants to our partners for their on-the-ground efforts to protect ocean habitats and the wildlife and human communities that depend on them.
This is a sample two-day itinerary. Custom itineraries are available for groups of two or more, year-round. Some activities (e.g. Farallon Islands trip) are seasonal; alternative activities are available year-round.
Day 1: Farallon Islands Whale and Bird Watching Cruise
Meet our whale watching vessel, the Salty Lady, in the morning in either San Francisco or Sausalito and join an 8-hour whale and bird watching cruise to the Farallon Islands guided by one of our expert local naturalists. The Farallon Islands, just 27 miles off San Francisco, lie amid the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a food-rich marine ecosystem that attracts whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions and seabirds each summer and fall to feed and to breed. Researchers have catalogued hundreds of individual humpback and blue whales as seasonal feeding residents. 36 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of whales and dolphins, and more than 250,000 nesting seabirds can be found here. You will return to the dock around 4pm.
Day 2: Visit to River Otter Ecology Project & Point Reyes National Seashore
After a day on the ocean spotting marine life, we head inland and spend half a day with Megan Isadore, founder of the River Otter Ecology Project, who will guide us on a relaxed 2–3 hour hike through riparian habitat in the natural beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore. River otters have made a remarkable recovery after being extirpated from most of the San Francisco Bay Area by the mid-20th-century, and we will have a high likelihood of spotting river otters and watching them as they feed or groom. With Megan's guidance we will look for otters, signs of otters, and also learn how these charismatic predators’ return offers hope in restoration and conservation.
The second half of the day will be dedicated to wildlife watching in Point Reyes National Seashore, a place famous for sightings of tule elk—the only species of elk endemic to California—as well as bobcats, coyotes, raptors and elephant seals. The park is home to more than 1500 species of plants and animals, found amid its breathtaking beaches and rocky headlands, open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges.
Accommodations are not included in the pricing of this program, which caters to both locals and visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area. We are happy to suggest convenient and comfortable accommodations to match your budget during your stay.
Your expedition will be led by one or more of the following expert naturalist guides: