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The Farallones Islands

Whale Watching, a Marine Sanctuary, and Wildlife Abound in the Farallones

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Located just miles from the shores of the North Bay Area, and just around the bend from downtown Sausalito and out on the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, lies one of the most extensive and studied marine and bird sanctuaries in the United States. Visitors come throughout the year to visit the Gulf of the Farallones for bird watching, beaches, marine life observation and more, and many more go out to the islands themselves for whale and shark sightings, bird watching on the rocky bluffs, and to experience the natural beauty of the formations.

One of the best spots to see whales during their migratory patterns, a part of the area that has the highest concentration of Great White sharks in the world, and home to countless species of birds and seals, the Farallones make a spectacular day trip adventure for visitors and locals alike.

A Marine Sanctuary

Also known as Farallon Islands, the area has been designated a marine sanctuary because of the unique geological features as well as the multitude of species that call it home. The Gulf of the Farallons extends to Point Reyes at the coast, and shoreline bird and seal viewing from the National Recreation Area is a popular pastime. Designated a National Marine Sanctuary in 1981, the Gulf of the Farallons has become an important venue for scientific research about pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), cetaceans (whales), and many other forms of sea life. Because of the convergence of currents and depths, the area is a prime resting ground for sea lions and seals, and therefore is an enormous draw for the Great White sharks that cruise the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Whale, Seal, and Shark Watching Tours

The most popular activity having to do with the Farallon Islands is the boat tours that leave from San Francisco and Sausalito and head out to the Islands themselves which are approximately 20 miles offshore from the Golden Gate Bridge. Once out near the islands you will see an astonishing variety (and number) of the seals, sea lions, and seabirds that call the rocky islands home. The main attraction during these excursions is the sea life that abounds near the islands themselves. Depending on the time of year, you may see any of a large variety of porpoises and dolphins (Dall’s porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, and more), whales of all kinds ranging from Orcas (Killer Whales) to Humpbacks and Blue Whales, and of course, the Great White sharks that are prevalent in the area.

Making an entire day trip out of a voyage out to the Farallon Islands from Sausalito is easy with all of the waterside spots that are perfect for a picnic lunch and views over the Pacific Ocean. Get your binoculars and warm clothing, and head out to one of the most active and fascinating wildlife areas in Northern California!

Tours and Information about the Farallon Islands:

Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association
The Presidio
PO Box 29386
San Francisco, CA 94129

SF Bay Whale Watching
300 Napa St. Slip #26
Sausalito, CA 94965

San Francisco Whale Tours
Private Charters Available

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Photos copyright by Jay Graham Photographer
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