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Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching
Review Highlights
Best Tour in the Bay Area

I've lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, seen and done most things, and this was the best tour I've... read more

Reviewed September 8, 2020
Los Altos, CA
Amazing experience - a must-do!

The trip, naturalists, beauty of nature and experience as a whole were spectacular! We went very... read more

Reviewed August 25, 2020
San Francisco, California
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51 - 56 of 58 reviews
Reviewed November 16, 2013

You can't fault Captain Jarod(sp?) for trying, the wind and rough seas were really tough, but they really need a non-smoking policy and a more proactive crew. This was really a fishing boat and not really a suitable site-seeing boat, too small and not enough shelter for 8 hours on the open water.

Date of experience: November 2013
13  Thank Tpcole22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 7, 2013

We had talked about taking a trip out to the Farallon islands for a while and finally signed up for this one. I thought the guide did a great job and there were a few really knowlegeable biologists on board who just came along on their day off. Very informative and interesting and fun to see the place. We saw two blue whales and several humpbacks. The captain was really good too at finding whales and positioning the boat so we didn't have to stare into the sun to watch them. We had an exceptionally nice, warm day with very calm seas, but be aware that it could be a rough, cold trip in normal SF weather. Even on a nice day, we were pretty bundled up, so bring several layers to wear under your waterproof outer layer, as well as gloves and a hat that covers your ears and won't blow off. We didn't have any seasickness issues on our boat, but we read it can be a real problem, so save yourself the agony and get some wristbands and dramamine before you go!

Date of experience: October 2013
6  Thank MelT47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 29, 2013

This is worth doing, and we saw whales (my impression is that they see whales often). But be prepared! Warm clothes, even on a warm day, and have rain gear. Water proof shoes too. It's long day and you will be spending it on a real boat. Worth it as long as you are ready.

You need to bring you own food and water (they do have coffee). And if you get seasick, be forewarned.

If you are frail, sorry, this is really not for you. But my wife and I are in our 60s. We did ok. But it was rough going for parts.

Date of experience: September 2013
10  Thank mghtmck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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!!

Date of experience: August 2012
10  Thank CountryGal S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.
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