- From Ridge to Reef
- Designed for Snorkelers
- Australia: Cruising the Great Barrier Reef
- Bali to Komodo by Boat
- Belize: Snorkeling & Coral Reef Ecology
- Bird's Head Seascape Whale Sharks & More
- Honduras Bay Islands
- Palau: Snorkeling the Rock Islands
- Raja Ampat Archipelago by Liveaboard
- Raja Ampat & Spice Islands Cruise
- Raja Ampat: Snorkeling & Whale Watching
- Solomon Islands by Liveaboard
- Wildlife Encounters
- Scuba & Snorkel Flex Trips
- American Wilderness
- Volunteer Vacations
- Belize: Turneffe Atoll Bottlenose Dolphin Research
- Belize: St. George's Caye Sea Turtle & Manatee Research
- Belize: Coral Reef Monitoring at Turneffe Atoll (scuba)
- Belize: St. George's Caye Coral Reef Research (snorkeling)
- Whales of Guerrero Research Project
- Ulithi Atoll: Community Conservation Program
- Family Trips
- Trip Calendar
- Whale Watching
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Farallon Islands Whale Watching (May - November)
The 2015 Farallon Islands whale watching season starts on May 24. Follow the links at right to book.
The Farallon Islands, located 27 miles west of San Francisco in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, lie amid a food-rich ecosystem that attracts blue, humpback, and minke whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and seabirds for feeding and breeding.
Researchers have catalogued 36 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of whales and dolphins, and have identified individual humpbacks and blue whales who return to the area year after year.
Additionally, more than 250,000 nesting seabirds can be found in the Sanctuary, the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous United States. Here one can find Tufted Puffins, Pigeon Guillemots, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, Shearwaters, Jaegers, Phalaropes, Western Grebes, Northern Fulmars, Black-footed Albatrosses, Cormorants, Terns, Ashy Storm Petrels, Brown Pelicans, Red Phalaropes, Pomarine Parasitic Jaegers, South Polar Skuas, several species of gulls, and the occasional Marbled Murrelet. Bird diversity is best in May, June, and July.
All trips are led by expert naturalists who assist with locating whales, identifying seabirds and other marine life, and who provide informative presentations throughout the trip on the history of the islands and the marine ecology of the area.
Full-day (8-hour) cruises depart from San Francisco or Sausalito aboard the 56-foot Salty Lady, a Coast Guard certified vessel, on Saturdays and Sundays from May through November. The Salty Lady has an observation deck, limited indoor seating, and gender-specific bathrooms, and holds a maximum of 48 passengers. Our captains are experienced in nature cruises and committed to marine conservation.
Pregnant woman are encouraged to take the trip at another time due to the unpredictable movements of the boat which can cause illness, or loss of balance.
San Francisco: Marina Yacht Harbor (7:30 AM) located at 3950 Scott Street, San Francisco (Map). Parking is free, but space is limited. You will return to this dock at 4:00 PM.
Sausalito: Clipper Yacht Harbor (6:45 AM), on Harbor Drive. You will return to this dock around 4:30 PM.
Duration: Approximately 8 hours. In order to visit the whale "hotspots," including the Continental Shelf, and have enough time to observe the wildlife at the islands, an 8-hour trip is required.
Itinerary: Under the Golden Gate Bridge and west to the Farallon Islands. Weather permitting, we visit the Continental Shelf to search for deep water whales.
Clothing: Warm, layered clothing with waterproof outer layer is recommended. Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen are also advised.
Parking: Parking is free in San Francisco and Sausalito
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 15. Children must wear a life jacket at all times while aboard the vessel.
TRIPS GO RAIN OR SHINE, BUT MAY BE CANCELLED DUE TO HIGH WINDS AND/OR HIGH SEAS.
Oceanic Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and has been commended by the California State Senate for its public education service through whale watching programs to the Farallon Islands. We have been leading whale watching trips in the San Francisco area since 1974 and are an official partner of the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge. All trip proceeds go toward marine conservation.
For recorded information on Oceanic Society's current wildlife sightings please call: 415 258-8220