Farallon Island Excursion Information

Each year Shark Stewards celebrates Sharktober and the return of the white sharks after their annual migration, and all wildlife in our Sanctuary! Coastal upwelling is making this year another of the more productive years in our Sanctuary, with Blue, Fin and Humpback Whales feeding nearshore, happy fledging seabirds and nice fat pinnipeds in our Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. See and learn about marine wildlife from plankton to whales. Join us exiting beneath the Golden Gate for amazing photo and wildlife observation opportunities entering the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary on a modern day Natural History expedition.   

Downloadable Instructions:

ABOUT THESE EXPEDITIONS Join veteran Shark Conservationist and Naturalist David McGuire and other wildlife specialists celebrating sharks and all ocean life on a life-changing expedition into the Gulf of the Farallones for whales, wildlife and our finny friends. We learn about the history of exploration, exploitation and conservation measures from protecting whales, sharks, the Farallon Islands and the surrounding waters. These events are surface viewing on a US Coast Guard inspected vessel, the AMIGO, departing from San Francisco near the Fisherman’s Wharf. These are NOT cage diving trips.

We meet at the Vessel AMIGO at Fisherman’s Wharf (not Pier 39) by 0730 to begin boarding for an 0800 departure. Return is between 4:00PM- and 5:00 PM if we are on something spactacular. These are Farallon Island -ecocentric expeditions.* We focus on sharks and shark conservation, and the marine wildlife of the Gulf of the Farallones but we learn about seabirds, whales, jellyfish and all the amazing marine life in our Sanctuary. We are shark specialists and conservationists, not a commercial enterprise, but lead these specialized conservation and education trips during what we call “Sharktober.” NOTE: our trips are ecosystem, conservation and education wildlife trips and not explicitly shark watching trips. We are one of the few outfits permitted under NOAA”s White Shark Stewardship Program. However, we do not spend all day at the island searching for sharks. While we focus on shark biology and behavior while at the island and may possibly see a predation or dorsal fin, these are not shark attractant trips. If you want to join a shark viewing/cage diving trip please visit the NOAA site for conditions and recommended operators.  Once leaving the Bay our mission is to make the islands. Conditions may change and alter the destination in the Gulf of the Farallones to areas with wildlife along the Marin coastline and in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Occasionally conditions prohibit crossing the Gulf after entering the Sanctuary. In that case we will investigate the Marin County shoreline as far as Drakes Bay and into deeper waters for whales and wildlife. Refunds are not available once we have passed beneath the Golden Gate.  

Directions The vessel is berthed along the historic Fisherman’s wharf waterfront between Castagnolas and Tarantino’s restaurants. Look for the EAT CRAB sign across the street. Parking is located on surface streets as marked ( free on Sundays as marked-) or at the Anchor street Garage on Beach and Jones. We encourage and advise public transportation. Please join us on the Vessel by 0730 to begin boarding for an 0800 departure.

NATURAL HISTORY Called the Devils Teeth by ancient mariners, these rugged, remote rocky islands host some of the most abundant and diverse marine life in the world. 36 species of marine mammals, including 18 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins ) are found near the Farallon Islands, most frequently gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales. Five species of pinniped come to shore on the islands to feed, and in some cases breed and give birth. These include the northern elephant seal, harbor seal, Steller’s sea lion, California sea lion, and the northern fur seal (many like the rhinoceros auklet, brown pelican were locally extinct and are now returning to the island after protection). Occasionally we see the smaller Guadalupe fur seal and we hope one day to see the return of the Southern sea otter.

For the Birds

As part of the Fish and Wildlife Refuge system, the Farallon Islands are an important reserve protecting a huge seabird colony. The island’s position in the highly productive California Current and Eastern Pacific upwelling region, as well as the absence of other large islands that would provide suitable nesting grounds, result in a seabird population of over 250,000. Twelve species of seabird and shorebird nest on the islands; Western Gull, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot, Common Murre, Cassin’s Auklet, Tufted Puffin, Black Oystercatcher, Rhinoceros Auklet, Ashy Storm-petrel, and Leach’s Storm-petrel.

* These exclusive trips explore and explain the natural history of the Great White Shark and other local species. We will linger near the island searching for shark predation or other signs but we cannot attract sharks nor is this a shark trip. Although it is highly likely we will see many amazing species of wildlife, there is NO GUARANTEE of seeing sharks, whales or other specific wildlife. This is Nature- but lucky for us there is a lot of it out there and we have never been disappointed. This is not a Shark Viewing trip, but a shark conservation and wildlife appreciation experience. As wildlife viewing and timing allow we may visit the Continental Shelf to view pelagic species! 

Departure Join us at the Vessel by 0730 to begin check in and boarding for an 0800 departure.The boat cannot wait for latecomers. We may depart in fog, light rain or small craft warnings (very unusual this time of year) at the captain’s discretion, but the boat must leave on time. We will return to the Bay about 4:00-4:30 p.m. Allow for delays, especially if unusual wildlife is encountered. Trips may be truncated or rescheduled if weather conditions deteriorate. See departure and refund details below.  

Age and Physical Requirements These trips are limited to ages 8 and above. This vessel requires boarding by ladder and mobility is necessary. Please contact us for accommodations.

Covid Policy**. We have a new vessel and will observe all COVID safety precautions for the 2023 season. We request that all passengers be vaccinated and require that all passengers agree that they have been symptom free of any infection for over 72 hours before boarding. Please help us keep these trips fun and safe for everyone’s benefit, including the captain and crew. 

 ** Weather & Trip Rescheduling Although this is the best time of year to cross the Gulf, weather can be a problem outside of the San Francisco Bay. Light rain or fog generally do not result in cancellations since generally the afternoon clears. We closely monitor live buoy reports to make the best decision for comfort and safetyl Decisions regarding cancellation may be made on the morning of the trip in unusual conditions, but we make every effort to decide the evening before based on the most current weather report. We will make our best estimate of weather conditions the evening before and if conditions warrant a cancellation may be made. Notification will be provided via Universe. 

Call into 415 350-3790 for a recorded message at 8:00 PM the evening before. We will make every attempt to inform you by email or this site beforehand but cannot personally contact the entire passenger list by telephone. For passenger safety and comfort, once the vessel has left the Golden Gate the final destination will be determined by the Captain. If conditions deteriorate this may become a coastal trip and the Gulf will only be crossed at the Captain’s discretion. There is still plenty of wildlife viewing at Drakes Bay or Pacifica in more sheltered waters. No refunds can be given once the boat has left the dock.  

Vessel, Safety and Access.

We will obey all vaccination, masking and other COVID requirements as made by the City of San Francisco and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention at the time of the event.

ACCOMODATIONS The vessel is seaworthy with all safety equipment, and US Coast Guard approved. Boarding requires climbing up and down a six foot ladder. The vessel cannot safely accommodate wheelchairs or persons on crutches or persons with mobility problems due to conditions at sea. Special accommodations may be made at the Captain/Owner’s discretion but advance notice is required. The vessel is equipped with all required US Coast Guard life safety equipment including communications, fire extinguishers, first aid and man overboard equipment. For your safety, persons with leg or other injuries, immobility or pregnancy are discouraged.There is a marine bathroom onboard. To avoid clogging nothing that does not go into your mouth and through your system should go down the toilet.

* Note- this is a wildlife experience. Although it is highly likely we will see many amazing species of wildlife, there is no guarantee of seeing sharks, whales or other specific wildlife. This is Nature. This is not a Shark Viewing trip, but a shark conservation experience. 

Children This is a long day in the elements. Young children and babies are not allowed by the Captain. Youth over 8 accompanied by parents are encouraged! Please consult with us for making a reservation for anyone under the age of 8 years.   

Sea Sickness The Gulf of the Farallones can have rough waters. Seasick remedies are highly recommended, and they must be consumed prior to boarding to be effective. If you have not used these in the past please check with your doctor first, and read the directions on the label. A full night’s rest the night before is important. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages the night prior to your trip and eat a healthy meal before boarding. Please avoid colognes and perfumes or other scents or food that may make you or other passengers queasy. Remedies like dried ginger have results for many. Other remedies include over-the-counter drugs, like Dramamine and Bonine, and prescription products like scopolamine patches. A new A new FDA-approved device, called the ReliefBand, sends a small electrical current through the same spot and has had positive reviews. We do not recommend any particular remedy and cannot be held responsible for adverse reactions or effects.We do not endorse any specific remedies, but no alcohol and rest the night before, a good breakfast (low grease or fat), hydration and healthy snacks are all recommended. Here is a good survey article on motion seasickness.

What to Bring

  • Bring layers of clothing. Sweaters and sweatshirts covered by a waterproof jacket or rain slicker work best. Long spray proof pants, hats and gloves are helpful. Wind on the water can cool the temperatures significantly. 
  • No sandals or open toed shoes. Soft soled deck shoes, sneakers or sea boots are desirable. 
  • Cameras and binoculars. Covers, towels or plastic bags can protect your equipment from spray. Drones are prohibited.
  • Field guides. We will have a one page handout and some references and displays aboard but you may want your own.       
  • Hats and sunscreen. You can still get a sunburn even in the fog. 
  • Food, Water and Drink. Lunch is not provided or available on board. There is some water aboard. but please bring plenty of food, snacks and liquids. Water bottles- please keep it green and bring reusable bottles. Pretzels, crackers and carbonated beverages during the trip can be helpful to settle your stomach. Alcohol is discouraged. Smoking and Vaping is Prohibited onboard. 
  • Please no large rigid coolers or large items- space is limited!
  • Cabin space is limited. Waterproof bags or backpacks are advisable and encouraged.


Where can I contact the organizer with any questions? yes- via Universe or at info@sharkstewards.org  

Is my registration/ticket transferrable? Yes- with prior notice to the operator. No transfers or changes within one week of departure without contacting the operator. Trips do not transfer from one year to the next.   

Can I update my registration information? Yes, if you would like to substitute passengers up to a week from the date of the event. Any registration date changes can be made according to the refund and change terms below.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event? A print out is helpful-but we will have a printed manifest and sign in list when you come aboard.    

What is the refund and change policy? The captain and operator will make the determination to depart as weather dictates, generally the evening before based on the most recent forecast. Our trips may be canceled in advance due to undersubscription, hazardous weather conditions, Acts of God or emergency. If the trip is canceled by the operators for any of these reasons, we will honor your ticket on another trip this season or you may request a refund in full.    

Passenger’s Requesting Refunds If you need to cancel your reservation you will receive a full refund up to 7 days of booking, or less a $25 processing fee for each reservation change up to a week before date of departure. You may reschedule for one of our other trips within the calendar year at a $25 change fee/ ticket, or transfer tickets to another passenger for the date of departure provided, provided you notify us no less than 7 days before date of departure. We cannot refund tickets within a week of departure.

Cancellation within 7 days of the scheduled departure time cannot be refunded. You may have the option to attend a trip at a later date in the same year with a 10% change fee provided there is space. Due to boat booking we cannot accommodate repeat scheduling changes. We will honor your reservation on other trips for the calendar year if given more than 7 days advance notice. In no event shall our liability exceed the obligation to refund more than the amount you paid to us or extend beyond the year of booking. If you should miss your trip due to illness, airline changes, cancellations, terrorist acts, acts of war, or related incidents, your fee will not be refundable. There are no exceptions to this policy. Once the boat has left the dock, no refunds can be given.   

Other Illegal drugs, smoking or vaping tobacco are not permitted on the boat. To be present to this adventure we request that you please turn off cell phones and pagers while on the boat. No drone aircarft are allowed unless made with advance agreement with the operator.

We attempt to make thes green, low impact trips so please plan on minimizing plastic or other single use containers and hang onto anything that might enter the ocean. We cannot be liable for loss or damage to your personal property while onboard the vessel.  

Acknowledgement and Liability Receipt of this contract via ticket purchase acknowledges your acceptance of the above conditions. The leaders and Shark Stewards assume no responsibility for personal injury or loss of property on these voyages.These trips are not asssociated with The Earth Island Instiutute.

Contact the organizer for more details or questions.