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Farallon Islands Wildlife Expedition

We're back! Join us for a 7.5 hour naturalist-led expedition under the Golden Gate Bridge all the way out to the wonderful & wild Farallon Islands! Every Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday | April-November | 9:30am-5:00pm. Book now!
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Overview

Update: We now have Farallon trips every Wednesday as well as Saturdays and Sundays. Book now!

Recent Sightings: We had an excellent start to the season! April 4th we had 9 grey whales and 6 humpback whales, including 2 that were repeatedly breaching out of the water near the boat!!! Click here to see photos from that trip.

Conservation Impact: Oceanic Society is a conservation non-profit. Your travel dollars with us go directly into raising awareness and action around environmental issues locally and beyond.

Departure Schedule: 9:30am-5:00pm | Every Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday | April-November 2021 | Click Here to See Our Schedule & Book Now!

Trip Details: Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge led by 3 or more wildlife experts to the Farallon Islands: one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world! See more information in the Farallon Expedition Detailed Itinerary section below.

Whale Sighting Likelihood: April-November 98% | Based on Past 10 Years OS Sightings Data

COVID-19: Transmission reduction measures in place including county approved Site-Specific Protection Plan, limited capacity, employee trainings, face coverings, routine deep-cleanings and socially distant spacing at all times during the trip.

Trip Duration: 7.5 hours

Our Capacity: 20 passengers | (which is only 40% of our boat's full capacity)

Price: $450 per person

Age Limit: 10 years or older

Departure Location: Clipper Yacht Harbor (310 Harbor Dr. Sausalito CA 94965 | Check-in is on the right side of the main parking lot.)

Parking: Free on site | For Parking Diagram & Additional Trip Details Click Here!

Any Questions?: Email whales@oceanicsociety.org and get a fast response!

Farallon Expedition Detailed Itinerary

Our vessel, the 56-foot Salty Lady, departs from Sausalito (just north of San Francisco) 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 start the trip, we cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, often seeing harbor porpoise 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, 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 Grey 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 3000 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 Sausalito 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 Whales Are Here!

Humpback whales arrive back in the Bay Area as early as March each year! Our 7.5-hour tours provide ample opportunity to circumnavigate the Farallon Islands with expert interpretation coming from our staff of top-notch naturalists. Oceanic Society is a conservation non-profit that pioneered whale watching in San Francisco in 1972. We measure our naturalists’ experience in decades, not years. They are simply the best available!

We Are COVID Prepared

This trip is designed with COVID safety in mind. We've taken measures that go above and beyond state and local regulations. Social distancing is present at every stage of the trip. All naturalists & boat crew have undergone COVID transmission reduction training and certification. Regular sanitization of common surfaces is ongoing during each trip and a full sanitization process occurs before every new batch of passengers.

Your Trip Supports Ocean Conservation

As we mentioned before, Oceanic Society is a 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 & communities around the San Francisco Bay Area. Also, we 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.

Photos & Videos

VESSEL

Our Coast Guard certified vessel, the 56-foot Salty Lady, has an observation deck, limited indoor seating, and two bathrooms. Our captains are experienced in nature cruises and committed to marine conservation.

CLOTHING
Face covering is required. Warm, layered clothing with a waterproof outer layer is strongly recommended. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are also advised.

FOOD & REFRESHMENTS
Bring your own food and beverages; there are no concessions on board. Alcohol is discouraged, but not prohibited. Backpacks are fine, but please, no coolers due to space limitations.

SMOKING POLICY
No smoking is allowed on Oceanic Society cruises.

AGE RESTRICTIONS
Age minimum 10; an adult must accompany children under 16. Children must wear a life jacket at all times while aboard the vessel.

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.

For cancellation policy, refund and reschedule policy, and other important terms, read our detailed Terms and Conditions.

Reviews

A Life Experience, a must do for real nature lovers!
TripAdvisor Member

Unforgettable Experience ... I can definitely recommend this trip

TripAdvisor Member

Best bargain in S.F! Wow - what a wonderful experience!!

TripAdvisor Member

Lived in the Bay Area for 10 years, boy have I missed a great experience before.

TripAdvisor Member

For an up close experience with the islands, consider spending a full-day with the Oceanic Society ... You will get to spend eight hours with guides who know the best places to spot whales, especially humpback and blue whales that are common in the area.
SF Gate

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

Recent Sightings

2019 Farallon Islands Whale Watching Season RecapIt started with a splash: May 5, 2019 On just the second trip of our 2019 Farallon Islands whale watching season, we had one of the best whale spectacles in recent memory. Oceanic Society naturalist Chris Pincetich recorded over a dozen humpbacks that day, but one whale stole the show, breaching repeatedly with a backdrop of Southeast Farallon Island. Fortunately for us,…Read More →Farallon Islands Whale Watch Sightings: August 26, 2017On this foggy August morning, our boat full of ocean enthusiasts headed out under the Golden Gate. The fog was so dense, there were times we couldn’t see the shoreline as we motored along. On the way out to the Farallon Islands, we spotted numerous ocean sunfish (Mola mola) of all sizes basking in what little sunlight there was this…Read More →Farallon Islands Whale Watch Sightings: August 13th, 2017 Our Farallon Islands whale watching trip on August 13 trip kicked off just around the corner from our Crissy field pickup with a unique view of some of San Francisco’s most beloved marine mammals, the Pier 39 California sea lions. Many locals and tourists alike have gotten the chance to see these…Read More →Farallon Islands Whale Watch Sightings: July 2017In July, our Farallon Islands whale watchers spotted 177 individual humpback whales, 14 blue whales and 8 gray whales over the course of 9 trips. This comes out to be around 20 humpback whales seen on average per trip! Other exciting sightings included Pacific white-sided dolphins, Mola mola (ocean sunfish), northern fur seals, Blue-footed Booby (very rare for our area), Northern…Read More →Farallon Islands Whale Watch Sightings: July 2, 2017We began our 8 a.m. trip by circumnavigating Alcatraz Island before passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. Shortly thereafter, we noticed blows off Point Bonita and continued toward this area. Passengers at the front of the boat were fortunate to see a humpback whale breach completely out of the water. It happened so quickly and unexpectedly that photographers missed the…Read More →

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