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Review Highlights
Fantastic Experience!

Wow, what an amazing day! Having grown up in SF, I'd always seen the Farallon Islands from a... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
at2022212
Spectacular nature trip

Everything about this trip was fantastic-- the naturalists are experts not only on the ocean and... read more

Reviewed 3 weeks ago
allijean2015
,
San Francisco, California
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Reviewed November 21, 2019

This is the best day I have ever spent ~ really!! It takes a long time to sail back and forth to the Farallons, but it was worth it -- we saw humpbacks, seals, sea lions, jellyfish, albatrosses . . . and all of it made me grateful to be sharing the planet with such special creatures. The captain of the Salty Lady knew where to go, our Oceanic Society guide was a fountain of knowledge, and I am hoping to go again next year...

Date of experience: October 2019
3  Thank Nano V
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 6, 2019

We boarded the Salty Lady near the San Francisco Yacht House in the Marina on a brilliant, warm and calm autumn morning, and my first impression was how small the 56' boat is. There were ~30 passengers and 4 crew, including the 2 naturalists that accompanied us. The cabin has 4 booths that seat a total of ~8 people, and everyone else has to remain outdoors for the entire day. Two toilets are available as well as a small galley area with coffee and tea service.

When the boat is in the Bay and just outside the Golden Gate moving fairly slowly, you can move about using handrails. But once the captain revs up the engine to cross the open ocean to the Farallon Islands 27 miles away, the ride is very rough, and you're glued to your spot for well over an hour. It's not possible to walk around without risking a fall. There are 2 rows of benches in the back deck, but still not enough seating for everyone. The passengers on one side were getting soaked by sea spray, so everyone crowded over onto the other side. On the west bound trip, I stood aft facing the wake with sea spray lashing at my back and had to grip the rail tightly with both hands to keep my balance. My back side, which had faced into the wind, was quite wet and cold by the time we arrived at the islands, but I didn't dare to try and move from my spot on the rail. I had not worn waterproof pants and shoes, so I was rather soggy.

Fortunately, the wind was mild, and our time circumnavigating the islands for about 1.5 hours was pleasant. The on board naturalists were both very knowledgeable about the history of the islands and all of the mammals and birds that inhabit the islands and had each accompanied many tours to the islands. The captain maneuvered the boat constantly so that people on both sides can get a good view. While at the islands, we also had time to eat the sandwiches and snacks that we had brought along and use the loo - none of which you'll be able to do once the boat is chugging across across the open ocean.

I brought 2 cameras, one with a long telephoto lens, and one with a wide angle lens, and was able to get many great pictures of the sea lions, birds, seals and rocky islands.

The ride back to the Bay was a little less rough, and I did manage to get a seat on one of the benches, but still had to endure being lashed by sea spray for well over an hour. One entire side of my body was soaked with salty water, so I guess I was the "Salty Lady"!

The only whale sightings that day were several humpbacks just outside the Golden Gate; we saw none during the ocean passage or at the Farallones. The captain did manage to maneuver the boat so we all got a good look each time whales were spotted. I didn't get a lot of good photos, though because the ship and the whales are constantly moving, so there is a tendency to get a blurry photo of frothy water where the whale just dove !

Crossing back under the GG Bridge on a beautiful autumn day is always a great experience, and also gave me a chance to partially dry off before the tour ended.

The tour should really be advertised as a Farallon Islands round trip, rather than a whale watching tour, since there are limited prospects of sighting any substantial number of whales. Additionally, they should accept only enough guests as there are seats on the boat. It was really hard to move around at any time without bumping into someone, and equally challenging to get a good spot at the rail for decent photographs. They do use this boat for sport fishing trip as well, and the cooler takes up a good chunk of deck space.

I can now say that I'm among the tiny percentage of local residents who have actually been outside the Golden Gate !

Date of experience: October 2019
1  Thank JillClardy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 5, 2019 via mobile

Once in a lifetime trip today under the Golden Gate Bridge and to Farallon Island. We were lucky enough to see the rare sight of multiple bait balls with up to 8 humpback whales per ball, heaps of leaping sea lions and tonnes of seabirds!

It’s advisable to take a boat sickness tablet before this trip as it gets very choppy and not enough seating for all on the trip. Multiple people were vomiting on our trip for a few hours including myself so please be warned!

Totally worth the effort though this trip was incredible!

Date of experience: October 2019
2  Thank NicolaAllen27
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed September 28, 2019 via mobile

My son, who loves wildlife, was beyond disappointed when the trip was cancelled as the ship broke down. While that is understandable, as things happen, what is unacceptable is that the company promised a full refund which over a month later still has not come. I have emailed the provider - no response. We chose this trip because of the Oceanic Society’s involvement. However the operator clearly does not respect its customers enough to keep its promises. I would encourage you to go with another company.

Date of experience: August 2019
Thank TroyI982
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
OceanicSociety1969, VP of Outreach at Oceanic Society Farallon Islands Whale Watching, responded to this reviewResponded October 29, 2019

Hi Troy. We’re very sorry to read your review. Can you please contact us at administrator@oceanicsociety.org or by phone at 1-415-256-9604 to sort this out? We automatically refund all customers within 48 hours any time we have to cancel a trip. I can’t find your name or booking in our system, but if you get in touch with us directly we’ll be able to sort this out right away and find out what happened.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 19, 2019

This was my first ever whale watching experience and I was blown away! The boat crew and naturalists were all knowledgeable and friendly, and we saw far more wildlife than I ever dreamed we would see. We saw several varieties of seals and sea lions, a huge variety of birds, jelly fish and sun fish, and an estimated 65 (!) humpback whales.

Do make sure you take something for motion sickness. I had never experienced being out on open ocean, but thought that since I'm normally fine in airplanes, cars, roller coasters, etc., I would be okay, and I definitely wasn't. The water was rougher than I have ever experienced on a lake (but I never felt unsafe), so if you don't know for sure, take something ahead of time to make sure you have the best possible experience. Even bearing in mind that I got (very) sea sick, this is one of the best things I've ever done and absolutely recommend it.

Date of experience: September 2019
2  Thank KamikazeZoomy
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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