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“Best bargain in SF!!”

Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching
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Attraction details
Owner description: Oceanic Society is a non-profit marine conservation organization founded in San Francisco in 1969. Our San Francisco whale watch programs began in 1972, and have given thousands of people the opportunity to see and learn about the Bay Area's spectacular marine wildlife, including several species of whales, dolphins, seabirds, and much more. We are the only non-profit whale watch operator in the Bay Area, and our trips are used to collect marine research and support local conservation efforts.
Reviewed August 30, 2012

Wow - what a wonderful experience!! The Oceanic Society's ocean voyage was the highlight of our week in San Francisco! We were very fortunate to have reasonably decent weather and relatively calm seas but both my husband and I - neither of whom has ever been seasick - took the precaution of taking a dose of non-drowsy Gravol. Didn't think we would need it but always like to be prepared - and they tell you this in the documentation. We staked out our spot in the bow of the boat immediately after the safety instructions and stayed there all day. Started off in rain and fog - bundled up so you could only see our eyes and had to remove our glasses because of the rain. But by the end of the day we both had the worst sunburns on our faces - but still worth every second of discomfort!! We were not even out of the harbour when we saw bottlenose dolphins. Then on the way to the islands - thanks to a sharp eyed young man - we saw a Leatherback Sea Turtle and spent about 10 minutes watching him. As we approached the islands we saw some puffins - my favourites - and as we were going around the main island listening to the sea lions we spotted a gray whale. As we went past the islands it was the most amazing sight - no matter where you looked from the bow of the boat you could see blows. I got more pictures and video of the humpbacks than I ever would have thought - we even got to see them playing and "bubble feeding". Then we saw the taller, slimmer blows and then there were blue whales. We saw a sunfish, merres, an albatross, a bunch of cormorants and seals, sea lions and more puffins - and the little puffball birds whose name I forget at the moment. It was an incredible day and we were very, very fortunate. Now, I realize that not all of the Oceanic Society Expeditions are going to see that much sea life but it is still pretty amazing. And if you follow the instructions that you are given and dress correctly, you should not be cold and shouldn't be seasick. The naturalists on board - and we were lucky enough to have 3 - were very knowledgeable and informative, friendly and helpful. The captain of the Salty Lady was also a wealth of information. I spoke with some "locals" on our trip and some had been 3 or more times and always thought it was great. We are already thinking about our next trip down south and our next Oceanic Society adventure. For our money it is one of the best bargains around but if you are looking for a "pleasure cruise" where you are waited on and pampered look elsewhere. But if you want the information and the "scientific" expedition, then this is the trip for you!! Thanks Oceanic Society!!

10  Thank CountryGal S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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27 - 30 of 30 reviews

Reviewed July 19, 2012

We were very lucky on our trip and saw a large number of whales throughout the day. Our guide said he had never seen as many whales in a single day.

The boat was quite small and had limited indoor seating which only became an issue half way through the day due to the cold weather and rough sea.

It was a thoroughly interesting day and the guide very knowledgable. Make sure you take plenty of warm clothing though and if you think you will get seasick take travel sickness pills.

The only thing I would suggest to the tour organisers is to provide lunch for the customers.

Fascinating day.

6  Thank psymon1969
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 6, 2012

On 28 June 2012, my daughter ( 16) and I had a fantastic experience whale watching with the Oceanic Society based in San Francisco. the skipper and crew were very knowledgeable and shared this knowledge and experience enthusiastically enhancing our whole experience. We saw humpback, grey and blue whales, we also saw albatross, sea lions, sun fish. We were extremely lucky to see so many species of whale and in large numbers. The humpbacks put on great displays for us.

The trip left on time, the boat was comfortable and the money spent goes towards the research work. Highly recommended.

6  Thank jldhoskins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2011

Some friends and I did a day trip on October 29, 2011 from Sausalito (they also pick up passengers in San Francisco) out to the Farallon Islands on the Salty Lady. The goal was to see whales. Alas, they weren't around the Farallones that day- we did however see a glimpse of Great White Sharks, many types of seals, sea lions and birds including migrating birds of prey. The Oceanic Society docent was knowledgeable and interesting and there was also a rep from a Sea Turtle preservation group on board. The Salty Lady is a nice boat but most of the seating is outside so it can be very cold and damp. The trip is long (8-9 hours) and even though it was nice weather, the swells were still big and many people were sea sick the entire day. The crew was very kind but they can't do much to help- don't go on this excursion if you know you are prone to sea sickness! And if you don't know, I would test out whether you are not on another trip- this is a fairly small boat and a long day to find out. The highlight of the trip (in my opinion) is coming back into the bay under the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing the city from a very unique view. I would definitely go out with this group again.

3  Thank Kahana
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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