Go whale watching in San Francisco on this 2.5-hour cruise that departs from Pier 39. On an eco-friendly catamaran, glide through San Francisco Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge to reach the open Pacific, where you’ll keep your eyes peeled for humpback and gray whales, as well as marine life like dolphins and seals. Learn about the history and geology of the area from an onboard naturalist, and admire the rugged California coast.
San Francisco whale-watching tour
Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge
Watch for gray and humpback whales during their migration periods
From Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf, hop aboard your Coast Guard–certified catamaran for your whale-watching tour in the waters of the Pacific. With its hull design and quality engineering, the vessel provides a smooth ride across San Francisco Bay and into the ocean. Receive a brief safety orientation, and then enjoy views of Alcatraz and Angel Island as you take off from the pier. Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea anywhere from 3 to 8 miles (4 to 12 km) to search for marine life. In addition to humpback whales and gray whales, the Bay Area is home to an abundance of porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, birds and even sharks. Admire the dramatic coastline of cliffs and headlands while the naturalist tells you about the natural environment. You can watch for whales from the deck or head inside the heated cabin to warm up, if needed, where you can brush up on local trivia and learn about the area’s history, from Native Americans to Spanish explorers to Gold Rush immigrants. Your tour ends with return to Pier 39.
Viator Traveler's Reviews
, May 2019
I treated my Midwestern family of eight (ages 7 to 70) to this tour yesterday. We learned firsthand that Nature doesn't always cooperate with our plans. After more than two-and-a-half hours of searching, we were unable to come up with a single whale. Our captain took us well out into open water and on a lengthy return trip around Alcatraz island, extending our time on the water considerably. He was so determined to satisfy everyone! Finally, just as we were five minutes from the docks, he learned of a whale within range. We turned and flew out to find it. The captain was kind enough to warn us about the potential for spray during this jaunt, so most of us took shelter in the cabin. When we arrived at the location, it took us a few minutes, but we finally did get a siting. Whew--Mission accomplished!
Although everyone joins a tour like this hoping to see spectacular whale breaches, we know that's rare. I didn't get the sense that anyone on the boat was disappointed. Naturalist Rachel did a great job of pointing out other wildlife in the Bay, Straights, and open water. She reminded us of the importance of taking care of these beautiful creatures, helping us to realize that we can do something about it. The scenery, both natural and city skyline, was incredible. That alone made the trip worth the time and cost.
I highly recommend this tour for anyone, but do understand that if you see whales you are indeed fortunate. There are no such guarantees. THANK YOU KITTY KAT CREW!
The whale watching tour was a great time for me and the rest of the family. Very friendly and professional crew. I gained lots of knowledge and just to see such a wonderful creature so close to me was remarkable. We all had a great time, I recommend this tour to pretty much everybody who has some time to spare in San Francisco.
Great tour guide and captain. Unfortunately no whales on that day but tour was interesting. They do say that if you don't see any whales you can come back for free - we didn't have time to do, but perhaps in a few more years!
This excursion was fantastic, well, except for the weather. It was very overcast, windy and cold. The water was a little turbulent but you never knew what the weather will bring. We did see some whales at a distance and some sea lions. Had it been a sunny day the experience would have been more awesome. However, our tour guide was very knowledgable and answered all questions concerning the sea life. All in all, well worth it.
We were fortunate to find lots of whales right under the Golden Gate Bridge and stayed in that area the entire tour. However the boat we were on was very sub-par. The area outside was very tight only wide enough to stand one deep without room to pass other passengers to get to different parts of the boat. The captain crew was unenthusiastic with comments limited to whale at 10 o'clock. I would recommend checking out the size and layout of the boat before boomking.