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Farallon Islands - Gulf of the Farallones

The Farallon Islands are located 27 miles off the coast of California west of San Francisco. The islands are barren except for the significant marine ecosystem they support.

The Farallon Islands are located in the Gulf of the Farallones, designated a marine Sanctuary in 1981. The islands provide migratory destinations for many species including sharks, the great white shark in particular, migrating whales including orcas, the endangered humpback whales and blue whales. The Farallons are a nursery for harbor seals, elephant seals, harbor porpoises, Pacific white-sided dolphins, rockfish, and seabirds including the Tufted Puffin. Twenty percent ofCalifornia's harbor seals breed in the Gulf of the Farallones Sanctuary. The Miwok Indians called it the island of spirits. Their boats crafted of tule reeds could not make it through the rough seas to the Farallon islands, but they sent their dead wrapped in the tule reeds to the island of the spirits.

Today, the island is inhabited only by research scientists cataloging the important species that live and pass through on migration and breed in the Gulf of the Farallons. A brackish spring supplies the only fresh water on the island, brown colored; the water once was contaminated with ecoli. All supplies must be shipped in and loaded on the island only when the waters are not too rough.

Nearby, The Cordell Banks, a submerged mountain range, mark the edge of the continental shelf.

Our 32' Grand Banks "Cimba" one of the longest running Farallon Patrol vessels with documented trips to the Islands that date back to the early 1970’s.

SF Bay Adventures offers Weekend trips to the Islands with a naturalist on board. This is a whale watching tour with the Islands as a focus during the trip. Please see our events calendar to check schedule for individually ticketed tours out to the Farallones.

Additional information:

  • Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center at Crissy Field in San Francisco.
    The Presidio, Building 991
    San Francisco, CA 94129
    phone: 415-561-6622
    fax: 415-561-6616
    or their main web site at: Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association The Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association (FMSA) is a non-profit, cooperating association that helps protect the resources managed by the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary through collaborative education, interpretation, outreach, and research.

We provide Nature Tours to the Islands; we call them Adventure Tours because getting to the islands is a challenging and rewarding trip. We hold the area with the utmost respect and run tours that take photographs and leave nothing behind. An expert naturalist will be on board to describe what we see along the way.

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Gulf of the Farallones at Sunset

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Farallon Island Ranger Housing

© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Farallon Islands in Mist
On a rare clear day the Farallon Islands are visible from the central San Francisco Bay

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