We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Should have been cancelled!”

Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching
More attraction details
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 June 3, 2018 via mobile

This was a very disappointing trip. I had booked it several months in advance and was looking forward to it being the highlight of our trip from UK. Obviously the weather is unpredictable but seeing the conditions even before we started filled us with alarm. One humpback seen just the other side of the GG Bridge which we could have seen on a much shorter tour, then 2.5 hours of torture with people getting cold, soaked and sick. It was miserable. A freezing circular tour of the island with thousands of birds but not what we really wanted to see. A small humpback calf spotted on the journey home.
The organisers did a sterling job of keeping everyone safe but please take note, this trip will go even in poor conditions, so that refunds do not have to be given.
Overall I felt very unhappy with the whole experience.

1  Thank Mary1552
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (38)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
Language
All reviews
"rough seas"
in 3 reviews
"marine biologist"
in 2 reviews
"fellow passengers"
in 2 reviews
"clear days"
in 2 reviews
"great trip"
in 3 reviews
"sea lions"
in 11 reviews
"an adventure"
in 2 reviews
"golden gate"
in 3 reviews
"day trip"
in 2 reviews
"boat ride"
in 2 reviews
"seasick"
in 10 reviews
"humpbacks"
in 9 reviews
"dramamine"
in 3 reviews
"sightings"
in 3 reviews
"thousands"
in 6 reviews
"captain"
in 9 reviews
"swell"
in 3 reviews
Filter

6 - 10 of 39 reviews

Reviewed June 1, 2018

Waters were choppy but whales had been spotted so we left the docks hopeful! We had the opportunity to see a few whales (no photos because we just weren't fast enough). We also really enjoyed the Farallon Island where it was breeding season for sea lions and hundreds of thousands of birds.

Our trip also took us around the outskirts of Alcatraz which was an unexpected bonus.

It was a bit of a rough ride and we got soaked, but we left the dock ready for an adventure and the Oceanic Society delivered. For many of us it is a once in a lifetime experience and we had a great experience, Even more, I was proud to support the work that the Oceanic Society does.

Thank MaryDfromChicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanicSociety, VP of Outreach at Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching, responded to this reviewResponded June 4, 2018

Thanks so much for your review! We're very glad to hear that you enjoyed your trip with us, and we appreciate your support!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 21, 2018

I've been wanting to do this tour for years and finally got a chance yesterday. Unfortunately you have to book so far in advance that the weather conditions are a bit of a gamble, and in this case we lost. Looks like one of my fellow passengers has already reviewed our trip and I agree that it should have been canceled. The policy (I believe) is to issue refunds for any trip under four hours, and the converse of that is that as long as they keep us out for four hours they don't have to issue refunds. So we started out with an extended tour of the Bay that you can do with any tour operator, then spent 2 hours fighting our way out to the closest Farallon Island, floated there for a little while, and headed back to SF. Total time on the boat was about 6 hours, the best wildlife sighting was a humpback in the Golden Gate, and pretty much everybody was seasick to some extent. I understand that the Oceanic Society can't control the weather and I would actually really like to try this again, but don't want to risk spending another day like yesterday. I'm at a loss as to why they let the trip go out yesterday.

I do want to give credit to our excellent crew - Susan, Alicia, and Jared - who made the best of a bad situation, did a stellar job keeping everybody safe and as warm as possible, and consistently lifted our spirits. We could tell they were disappointed too, but they stayed professional and friendly throughout. Most of the passengers were pretty unhappy and the crew managed to prevent that from escalating into something worse.

For anybody else considering this tour, look at the other reviews here and know that you'll probably have a much better experience than we did, but understand the risks (and it would be interesting to know more about under what circumstances they actually do cancel the trip). Here are a couple of other specifics you'll want to know:

* Coffee, tea, and drinkable water are provided on the boat. Food is not, and you'll probably want sandwiches or something simple like that.

* It gets COLD on the boat, and there's a decent chance you'll get wet. My girlfriend wore her skiing outfit and she was still cold. They're not kidding when they say "bring layers". I'd add that the coffee and tea are piping hot and they help a bit.

* There are toilets on the boat (maybe that's obvious).

2  Thank Victor O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2018

On a day with Small Craft Advisory and winds up to 30 mph, almost 40 people boarded the Salty Lady for a harrowing trip out to the Farallon Islands to search for birds and whales. Well, after over 2.5 hours getting out there with waves 8+ feet high and brutal winds from the west, several people were sick or not able to participate in the trip. We were supposed to stay several hours, but after less than 1, the powers that be, decided to head back to San Francisco. Only a few caught a glimpse of the Tufted Puffin, which was one of the big draws for some of us, and thousands of Common Murres, it was very disappointing. If we had stayed in the leeward side of the islands, more puffins may have appeared. There were none of the more unusual birds seen that had been advertised. We saw briefly 3 whales, throughout the entire trip. We got back almost 2 hours early than scheduled. I understand that birding and whale watching is not a guarantee, but I knew 2 weeks ago that today was to be very windy. There were gusts up to 40 mph, and large waves even into the Bay. This is a trip that should have been cancelled before it even started. They could have given the passengers the choice to reschedule if possible, donate the fee, or offer a refund. This was a disaster that was known before leaving the dock. I've been looking forward to see new birds as I came out to CA from NJ. I would have much preferred to have had it cancelled than suffering the super rough seas, which I'm still feeling on land, and disappointing results of seeing basically nothing new.

1  Thank photo822
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
OceanicSociety, California Programs Coordinator at Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching, responded to this reviewResponded May 21, 2018

Thank you for your feedback. We’re sorry to hear that the weather conditions negatively affected your experience on our trip. Wind and waves are always a factor on these open-ocean excursions but we, and the other whale watch organizations in San Francisco, determined the conditions on the day of your trip to be within the recommended guidelines. We take passenger safety and comfort very seriously and appreciate your input. We strive to make each journey to the Farallones better than the last. Thank you.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
See more reviews
Reviewed September 14, 2017 via mobile

The weather cooperated and we made it out to the Farallons and past to the continental shelf. Many aquatic birds including Tuft Puffins (my favorite) and a Blue Footed Booby. We found a whale freeway past the Farallons and viewed approx 45 Humpbacks and 25 Blue Whales. We had a great time

5  Thank Alfred B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching also viewed

 
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA
 

Been to Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing