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San Francisco Golden Gate Whale-Watching Tour

San Francisco, United States
Book online or call: (888) 651-9785(888) 651-9785

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icon2 hours 30 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds


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
  • Spot dolphins and harbor seals
  • Enjoy a spacious cabin and sun deck
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.
Stop At:  
Pier 39
Start your whale-watching tour from Pier 39 in San Francisco. A member of the crew will welcome you aboard the eco-friendly catamaran. With its hull design and superior engineering, the vessel offers a smooth ride across San Francisco Bay.
Duration: 5 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Pass By:  
Angel Island State Park
Following a safety orientation to familiarize yourself with the boat, take in the views of Angel Island and nearby Alcatraz.
Pass By:  
Golden Gate Bridge
Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge and head out to sea, venturing 3 to 8 miles (4 to 12 km) in search of marine life. In addition to humpback and gray whales, the Bay Ares is frequented by numerous porpoises, dolphins, sharks, sea lions, and various bird populations, as explained by the onboard naturalist.
Stop At:  
San Francisco Bay
Dramatic cliffs and imposing rocky shorelines create a dramatic backdrop while you relax inside the heated cabin or watch for whales from the spacious deck. Learn local trivia and brush up on regional history about Native Americans, Spanish explorers, or Gold Rush immigrants.
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Fisherman's Wharf
Returning to Pier 39, you'll find numerous eateries where you can purchase clam chowder or the famous sourdough bread of Fisherman’s Wharf.
Duration: 1 minute
Admission Ticket Free
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What is the maximum group size during San Francisco Golden Gate Whale-Watching Tour?
This activity will have a maximum of 15 travelers.

See all safety measures taken by San Francisco Golden Gate Whale-Watching Tour.

Traveler Photos


402 Reviews
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Reviews by Viator travelers
Good tour.
, Oct 2019
A very good tour. The guides were really helpfull and knowledgeable. There was only one whale that we've seen but you can't really predict these things, do you? I would recommend this tour.
Whales and so much more!
, Oct 2019
We had a great time on a misty day looking for whales. The crew of the ship was excellent and Michael was great at explaining what we were seeing. We went out into the ocean and as we were about to turn back we saw a whale and it was great to see this beautiful creature in the ocean. We also saw so much other wildlife along the way. If you do suffer from seasickness be aware that you do go out quite a way, but the crew hands out ginger candy and offers lots of advice to help you.
Expensive and disappointing
, Oct 2019
I know that whales and dolphins can’t be produced to order but I found this trip an expensive waste when we didnt see any whales. The trip was full and I presume everyone else paid the same. The two young assistants Rachel and Sidney were very helpful and knowledgeable but most of the time someone was talking over the Captain’s address so that I couldn’t hear what he was saying. We were dressed warmly sat inside the boat and I became a little too warm. Also if the others outside stood up, we couldn’t see the water or anything in it. Looking around a lot of the other guests were bored, some even falling asleep. I think this trip should be shorter and cheaper.
Nice trip, but guide repeating too much
, Oct 2019
The guide was saying the same thing too many times, not providing enough information, especially about wildlife
Fun and knowledgeable crew
Brett S
, Oct 2019
We really enjoyed the personable and knowledgeable crew. It relaxing and educational and the fact that we saw several whales on a beautiful day made it hard to beat. A truly memorable experience!
, Sep 2019
Great trip, smaller group size, spectacular views, 3 humpbacks... wow! Every question we had was answered. amazing morning out.
Golden Gate Whale Watching Tour
, Sep 2019
My husband and I were on the tour in the morning of Sept 15th. It started out a little foggy but cleared up nicely. It was cool out on the water, don't show up in a t-shirt and shorts, you will be chilled. The crew was excellent. The captain, 1st mate and the tour guide were all very welcoming and encouraged guests to move around the boat, vocalize what they were seeing and ask as many questions as needed. I really liked that they were respectful of the environment and personal space of the whales, close enough to see, but not too close to impact their personal space. We saw 2 whales, a more distant perspective but they were there nonetheless. We also saw porpoises and the odd shark (a smaller species) jump out of the water. The coastal views were magnificent and travelling under the Golden Gate bridge was a beautiful site. My only wish was that they did not have as many quests on the boat, I think they could have cut the guest list by about 20% to make it a little more comfortable and not as crowded. Other than that, I would highly recommend.
Great event
, Sep 2019
Four adults, we all had a great time. The staff was wonderful. Very happy to find out they do research and not your typical tour. Very knowledgeable. Would definitely suggest this tour. We did get to see some whales and a lot of different types of birds.
Excellent experience.
, Sep 2019
Excellent experience. The crew and captain were great communicators. Safety was clearly important. The naturalist was very knowledgable and kept up a running commentary of information about what we were seeing. We saw a minke whale as well as humpbacks. The crew seemed very switched on about protecting the wildlife and whales.
Whale of a time
, Sep 2019
We didn't really see much for quite some time until towards the end of the trip but the crew was very enthusiastic and informative. It was overall a really fun experience.

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