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This was about as close as the boat got to the island; a welcoming committee of kelp flies came out to greet the boat.
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge
Closest available address
Trips typically depart from San Francisco or Sausalito harbors.
Hours will vary depending on the boat tour.
Best time to visit
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge comprises a few groups of small rocky islands in the Pacific Ocean. The largest island is 76 acres. The islands are known for large seabird colonies and diverse sea mammals. Waters around the islands are protected as a marine sanctuary.
Russians visited the Farallon Islands in the early 1800s and killed many of the seals and sea lions. Later that century, Americans followed suit and also collected millions of seabird eggs. Seals were soon extirpated and seabird numbers were greatly reduced. In 1909 President Theodore Roosevelt protected the northern islands as a nature preserve. In 1969 a wildlife refuge was established to include all the islands. The islands also are now classified as wilderness, except for Southeast Farallon, which has a biological research station.
On clear days the Farallon Islands are visible from the California coast, but a roundtrip boat tour from San Francisco takes a day. The Farallon boat tours focus on wildlife viewing, and tours with a naturalist are offered by the following two organizations: SF Bay Whale Watching and The Oceanic Society
. The islands are not open to visitors, but boats usually can approach up to 300 feet. Hundreds of thousands of seabirds nest on the islands at different times of year. Seals, sea lions, whales and fish often can be spotted in the water. If viewing seabirds and marine life in a natural setting sounds appealing, and you like ocean boating, a Farallon tour can be a great excursion. Be aware that on non-windy days island kelp flies can swarm the boat so choose a tour with an interior cabin option. Also, seasickness can be an issue.
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