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“Amazing day with knowledgeable naturalists”

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 July 22, 2018

This trip far exceeded our hopes. The naturalists were highly knowledgeable, we got to see 30+ whales of different types, and getting to see revitalized bird life throughout the sanctuary area was a thrill. The Oceanic Society does great work, so it was good to know the trip helps support the nonprofit.

Thank rlevans21
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 July 30, 2018

Thanks so much for your positive feedback! We're thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the trip, and we appreciate your support to our work!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (38)
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"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
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3 - 7 of 38 reviews

Reviewed July 10, 2018

We went on a first Friday cruise, so our trip was only scheduled to be 3 hours long. We loved it! Despite not seeing any whales, we had a great trip around the bay. The crew was obviously passionate about wildlife and the bay area, and I enjoyed learning about the wildlife of the bay. We saw harbor seals, porpoises, sea lions, pelicans, gulls, and many other kinds of birds! I would highly recommend this tour, especially if you are looking for an experience that feels less "touristy." Reviews are true, it is cold on the bay! Wear layers.

Thank Emma C
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 July 30, 2018

Thank you for your feedback! We appreciate your support and are very happy to hear that you enjoyed the experience!

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.
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.
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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.

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