We love our whales who swim, feed, breed and play off our coastal shores. We had always wanted to get closer to these magnificent creatures, but never had much time during peak season to go. Finally about 10 years ago, while visiting San Francisco, we found Oceanic and booked an 8 hour whale watching tour. Though it was expensive at $87.00 per person, we like the Oceanic Society's code of ethics regarding how we humans deal with our environment.
We received a packet of information which included suggestions about what and what not to bring on the boat. It also gave us their behaviour guidelines while out on the ocean. No sudden loud noises or yelling, no dropping things over the sides of the boat, and no feeding of the whales or other sea life.
The tour sets out from St Francis Yacht Harbor and heads out towards the Farallone Islands, another rich source of marine life. As the boat moves out beyond the Farallones, you begin to see a wide variety of sea life. From puffins and egrets to the whales themselves. Particularly the awesome looking humpback with its eerie calls. The people on board were all silent as we watched these majestic mammals breach time and time again. You truly cannot get a sense of their mammoth bodies until you see them in the wild. It is a humbling experience.
It gets very cold out on the Bay, so they recommend bringing heavy jackets, close fitting caps, gloves and shoes. The swells can get rough and choppy, so those who are prone to seasickness should take dramamine before casting off. Though the boats have interior salons for seating inside, if you are seasick, you do MUCH better being above decks in the freshening air.
This is a full 8 hour whale watching tour, giving you plenty of time to see as much of these creatures as is possible. They run May through November. If you want to enjoy a truly ethical and absolutely absorbing trip to see these wonderful sea mammals, give the Oceanic Society a try.