What would San Francisco be without the Bay? Likely only half as amazing. Every visitor to the northern Californian metropolis should cross the Bay at least once by boat. From the water, the view of the high-rise downtown skyline, Signal Hill and the Golden Gate Bridge is simply spectacular.
Alcatraz with an audio guide
The tiny island of Alcatraz lies roughly two kilometers offshore from San Francisco, but the city has always been out of reach for the inmates of the legendary high-security prison – there is no record of a single successful attempt to escape. The reasons for this are the strong current and low temperature of the North Pacific waters and the sharks that inhabit them. A visit to Alcatraz is a highlight for tourists these days, so the ferry services between the mainland and the island are frequent. For a particularly vivid impression of the prison, pick up the audio guide on which you can hear original recordings of former inmates relating their personal reminiscences accentuated by the sound of cell doors slamming shut and bunches of keys rattling – the tour of the prison wings is a journey back in time. Alcatraz Cruises serves The Rock daily between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Boats depart from Pier 33 in Fisherman’s Wharf. But make sure to arrive as early as possible in the morning, as the trips are soon sold out.
Alameda Point Aniques Fair
On the first Sunday of every month, antiques fans take the Oakland ferry from Pier 41 and alight a good 30 minutes later on Alameda Island. Their destination: the best flea market far and wide, which is held there. Treasures of every kind with all kinds of backstories: vintage stuff, antiques and clothes. The items on sale must be at least 20 years old, a point on which the organizers are very strict. The choice is huge, the location terrific, with a great view of the city. Be wary with European designer items, though, as they are especially popular in California and often a little overpriced as a result.
Sailing adventure on the USA 76
Back in 2013, many sail sportsmen dreamed of sailing in the America’s Cup race in der San Francisco Bay. That dream can still be realized – if a little late: The USA 76, a genuine racing yacht, regularly sets sail from Pier 39 for a 2.5-hour tour of the official 2013 America’s Cup course along with 40 other boats. Of course, participants don’t sit idly by, watching the crew – it’s all hands on deck when this sleek boat glides beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, its sail billowing. A sailing certificate is not required, but seaworthiness is.
Whale Watching in Farallon Bay
Nature fans certainly get their money’s worth in San Francisco. On the Oceanic Society’s whale-watching trips to the Farallon Islands 25 sea miles away, visitors can observe humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, seals, dolphins, and many species of seabirds. Nonprofit tours offer the somewhat rarer opportunity to see a turtle or a white shark. The fact that the fare for the eight-hour trip with knowledgeable and helpful scientists on board contributes to marine conservation additionally makes it an ethically sound pleasure.
Sausalito and the Golden Gate Bridge
Even if you’re not totally seaworthy, you should enjoy the city’s skyline from the water. The ferry crossing to Sausalito takes just half an hour, which is plenty of time to take in great views of downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you want to see the buildings close up, take a bicycle across with you and then take the pretty route from the harbor in Sausalito across the Golden Gate Bridge back to the city. Others will enjoy the vacation atmosphere of the small island and take a tour of Heath Ceramics, which produces top-class tableware in a wide range of colors.
Full-moon kayak tour
This kayak tour is also suitable for beginners. After a professional introduction, even they are trusted to handle the double kayaks safely. A trip across the Bay from Sausalito, visiting the seals basking in the harbor basin and a houseboat community, provides an insight into the laid-back lifestyle of both humans and animals in California. After sundown, with the full moon rising over Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline, romance is definitely in the air.
Private cruise on Independence Day
On July 4, San Francisco goes crazy: Independence Day celebrations are euphoric here. The undisputed climax of festivities here is the traditional firework display. To avoid the masses and still make sure you get the best view of the spectacle, take a boat trip. A particularly stylish way to experience the pyrotechnic extravaganza is cruising off the coast on board a private, chartered yacht with a glass of champagne in your hand.
Lufthansa Travel Guide