Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Boat Rides In San Francisco

Hop On Hop Off Buses In San Francisco

San Francisco – RocketBoat Ride
  • Traveler favoritesTours, activities and experiences bookable on Tripadvisor, ranked according to revenue made by Tripadvisor on those bookings, plus the number of page views by Tripadvisor users, and the quantity and quality of reviews
  • Hop on Hop Off Buses
  • Free cancellation
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
  • Ferry Building Marketplace

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More San Francisco Bay Cruises

One of the prettiest things to see in San Francisco are the white sailboats on the blue waters of the bay. Going out on one of them is even better!


The San Francisco Sailing Company runs several bay tours on their sailboats that I highly recommend. I went out on their 90-minute sailing tour…what a treat! It’s like being on a private yacht, fun and relaxing, with a mellow crew and free wine and beer. Leaves from Pier 39.

The price has gone up a bit since I went, $99 now, but you can often get these tickets half price through Goldstar check Goldstar to see if it’s available). If Goldstar doesn’t have tickets, you can book the sailing cruise at SF Sailing Tour.

See photos of the cruise, and details about the trip, at sailboat cruise.

Note: the current Rocket Boat was retired in 2019. They’re were going to introduce a new version of the Rocket Boat in the spring of 2020, but that was delayed by Covid. And there is still no Rocket Boat as of 2022.

If you’re up for a wild ride, try the Rocket Boat, run by the Blue and Gold Fleet from Pier 39. High speed, sea spray and rock and roll. A 30 minute ride, $30 for adults, kids less. I had a great time on this one! The Rocket Boat operates May through October. Goldstar often has half-price tickets for this one you can check for them at Rocket Boat tours.

For more details on what the trip is like, see my page on the Rocket Boat ride.

Sun Speed And Rock And Roll

Ready for a wild ride on San Francisco Bay? Spend 30 minutes on the Rocket Boat.

Note: the current Rocket Boat was retired in 2019, and they were planning on introducing a “new and improved” version in the spring of 2020. Alas, we are still awaiting its return!

But a good substitute is available now: the RIB boat. Another speed boat, an inflatable one in this case, zooms around the bay for 90 minutes. They even provide rain gear, because it does get wet. Goes past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge. Check it out at RIB boat tour. Find it at Pier 39, Gate I.

Leaving from Fisherman’s Wharf, next to Pier 39, is one of the most exhilarating adventures on the wharf. The Rocket Boat takes a group of voyagers for a fast speed boat ride out onto SF Bay, under the Bay Bridge, and zooms past the city skyline and Oracle Park.

There are warnings about riding with back and neck problems, but I thought it was milder than a typical roller coaster. There were a couple of good jolts as the boat hit a few big waves, but overall it was just speed, wind and sun for a wonderful 30 minutes.

The combination of classic rock and roll, incredible views, wind in your hair, and flying across the water at 60 mph, truly lifts the spirits. Looking around at my fellow passengers, I saw lots of big grins. What a rush!

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Hornblower Cruises & Events

San Francisco Champagne Brunch Cruise

Brunch in San Francisco could be considered a national past-time. San Francisco restaurant Mamas is known for their typical two-three hour lines on Sunday. Which is on par with other well known brunch spots around town!

One of the best kept secrets for avoiding lines at brunch time, is to hop aboard a San Francisco cruise that comes with a champagne brunch! Hornblower Cruises take place aboard the historic California Hornblower and are filled with good eats and even better views.

As fun as their San Francisco dinner cruise can be, it sure does get chilly in the evenings. We find the weather to be much more welcoming during their San Francisco lunch cruise.

What Kind Of Boat Tours Can I Find In San Francisco What Can I Expect

Sta. Ana, Cagayan

Known as the city by the bay, San Francisco is not only surrounded by water on three sides but is also the gateway to the Pacific Ocean with boat tours for every type of visitor. Whether youre looking for a new perspective on the city by the bay or just want to appreciate the glorious, legendary landmarks, including Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, or the Fishermans Wharf, there are San Francisco boat tours for every type of visitor. Whats even better, just a few miles off the shore, are calm waters that proffer adrenaline-fueled opportunity to admire the army of majestic blue whales as it sprints across the sea and glides past your boat gracefully. All this and a lot more to explore on an unforgettable San Francisco boat tour that promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience you wont want to miss. Heres a list of the best San Francisco boats, broken up into five categories, to help you choose the right one for your SF itinerary.

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Experience The San Francisco Bay By Chartered Boat

Experience the San Francisco Bay in a whole new way, by booking a 26 passenger cycleboat tour on the Brew Boat! Our tours are a fun group, interactive experience where you will enjoy the San Francisco waterfront by chartered boat. Part boat, part bike, and all party, we are the perfect way to celebrate birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, team building, and celebratory group outings!

Have questions? Check out our FAQ page, or send us an email through the Contacts page. We look forward to having you and your crew as our special guests soon!

What Is The Best Time To Go On A Boat Tour In Sf

The best time to hop aboard a San Francisco boat tour is during fall from September to November. Believe it or not, this time of the year offers some of the citys warmest temperatures with crystal clear waters. Moreover, spring is another ideal time of the year to sail the waters, thanks to its mild temperatures, lack of rain, and not to mention fewer crowds than summer.

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Adventure Cat Sailing Charters

Adventure Cat is one of the most popular sailing companies. In addition to their typical charters, they also offer special combo excursions that include hikes, a visit to Alcatraz, and more.

If you want to experience the San Francisco Bay from a sailboat, they offer daily sailing options at a more than fair rate.

They have earned a 5 out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor. Very few passengers have reported having any issues with this company.

Ticket Prices

  • $75 for Adults and Children
  • $5 discount for groups of 10 or more
  • Daily at 7 pm from Mar – Oct

Check Out Your Options Below Deck:

All Aboard! Take a Ride on San Francisco’s Hybrid Electric Ferry

Public Tours

We have tours running daily to see the sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and more. With tour options ranging from wine tasting on the Bay, to narrated historical tours, to nature tours, we have every top-rated public tour in San Francisco. Click below to find your best way to see the City by the Bay!

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Straight To The Gate Access Boat Tours

If youre looking to witness San Franciscos breathtaking waterfront from a different perspective, consider this 60-minute San Francisco boat tour that projects SF icons in a brand new light sailing beneath the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and relishing in the panoramic views of the picturesque Alcatraz Island.

Take advantage of fantastic photo opportunities with unobstructed views in every direction from Crissy Field and the lush hillsides of the Presidio to the barking California Sea lions sprinting joyfully in proximity to your boat!

Whats more Discover San Franciscos rich and varied heritage via an award-winning audio tour that describes all the major landmarks as you glide past and is available on your smartphone, tablet, or other WiFi-enabled devices, in 16 different languages.

P.S. Gate Boat Tours costs $35 on an average and departs daily at 10:00 AM.

Wine Tasting On The Bay

Tour Length: 90 Minutes

This awesome cruise is aboard Wine Therapy. This floating wine bar is a blast and allows you to sip on your local wine as you soak in the views from around the SF Bay.

The boat is a 45-foot classic yacht with seating both indoors and out.

Your cruise starts and ends at Pier 39. You’ll then head toward the Golden Gate Bridge, circle close to Alcatraz, enjoy the downtown San Francisco skyline, and then head back to where it all began.

The cruise is 90 minutes. The wine is by the glass and is not included in the price of the cruise.

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Blue & Gold Fleet Ferries

In addition to their sightseeing cruises, Blue & Gold Fleet also offer ferry services between San Francisco and Sausalito, Tiburon, and Angel Island.

Each route runs regularly between approximately 9 am and 5 pm.

There is no guided commentary, however, they do offer great views of the area for a very affordable price.

From San Francisco: Ferry Service to Sausalito or Tiburon

  • A 1-hour ferry that operates from 9:40 am – 5:20 pm
  • Round Trip – $27.50/adult | $16/child/senior

From San Francisco to Angel Island

  • Operates from 9 am – 5 pm
  • Round Trip – $19.50/adult | $11/Children and Seniors
  • Not Currently Available.
  • Included with both the Go San Francisco Pass and Explorer Pass.

Reviews of Blue & Gold Fleet

Most people seem very happy with their experience using Blue & Gold Fleet’s ferry services .

Despite the lack of commentary, guests write that they were very happy with the low cost and high quality of the experience.

Boat Trips From San Francisco

Rachael enjoying the River Walk boat tour. #riverwalk #san

One of the that can be made by boat in San Francisco is to the infamous island of . With this exciting tour, you will discover what was the most important prison in .

If you have enough time in the city, you can also make a very pleasant trip across the bay to visit the beautiful coastal town of . This haven of peace and tranquillity has attracted many celebrities who have set up homes here to escape the spotlight.

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San Francisco Dinner Cruises

Hornblower Dinner/Dance Cruise. Hornblower, a classy company that provides sailing trips on their yachts, has a San Francisco Bay dinner/dance cruise that is a lot of fun. Sailing around the bay on a yacht, dancing to a live band or DJ, and savoring a four-course meal…like watermelon and feta salad, crab gazpacho soup, chicken cordon-bleu, or maybe glazed salmon, with key lime pot de creme and macaroons, or perhaps berry parfait with Gran Marnier. Delightful!

I’ve been on several Hornblower evening cruises – a very professional outfit.

It’s magical to be out on the water at night with the city lights sparkling in the distance. The views of the city and the bridges at night were incredible, and the food was great! A fun San Francisco experience.

For all the details on our dinner cruise experience, plus photos and maps, see my page on the SF dinner cruise.

The Hornblower dinner/dance cruises are 2.5 hours , for $141.36 per person. For more info on cruise and booking, see Hornblower dinner cruise. often has discounted tickets for this cruise check for them at Goldstar tickets. We got our tickets through Goldstar for $96.50 each.

Sad to say, but Ride the Ducks closed their San Francisco operation on September 7, 2015, citing a difficult business environment, possibly related to a new requirement that tour guides can’t also be the bus drivers. They still run their boats in other cities, but no more quacking in SF, sniff.

Golden Gate Bay Cruise

Tour Length: 60 minutes

As I mentioned in my intro, this is by far the most popular cruise and a go to for many first-time visitors. It offers a great overview of the SF Bay both from a sightseeing and history perspective.

These San Francisco boat cruises leave from Fisherman’s Wharf several times a day. It’s another reason why they are so popular–because they run the most often.

These San Francisco bay tours are offered by both the Gold and Blue Fleet and the Red and White Fleet. I’ve been on the water with both companies several times and they both offer great service. The only difference is that the Gold and Blue Fleet provides their narration over loudspeakers on the boat while Red and White Fleet hands out individual headsets.

One benefit to the headsets with Red and White is that they offer narration in several languages, so this is something to consider if English is your second language.

Both SF cruise companies follow almost the same route. The boat cruise leaves from Fisherman’s Wharf and starts out along the northern waterfront. You head west past several SF sights including Fort Mason, the and the Palace of Fine Arts.

You will then ride by Fort Point National Historic Site as you head to the main attraction – the Golden Gate Bridge. After you float under the Golden Gate Bridge, you turn around for a second time under the bridge. You will head to the northern side of the bay. You’ll pass Sausalito, Angel Island and take some time cruising past Alcatraz Island.

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San Francisco Bridge To Bridge Cruise

Tour Length: 90 minutes

My second recommend for San Francisco bay tours is the Bridge to Bridge Cruise. This one is run by the Red and White Fleet. It’s a popular option, but only runs a few times a day.

They are also usually flexible with timing too on which San Francisco boat tour you can board unless it’s a really busy day. You can stop by their dock at any time to confirm which tour you can go on for the day of your ticket.

It’s slightly different from the SF Bay Cruise as this one offers 30 additional minutes on the water. It will follow the same route as above. However, instead of heading back after circling Alcatraz, you will head on for a trip under the Bay Bridge.

You will also cruise past Treasure Island and the Ferry Building. So, it offers a little more fun on the water for just a few more bucks per ticket.

As with the Bay Cruise, the narration for the Bridge to Bridge Cruise is on personal headsets. You can choose from one of 16 languages on their headsets too.

Twilight Or Sunset Cruise

Rockets Speedboat Ride, San Francisco Bay, USA

Tour Length: 2 hours

The Twilight or Sunset Cruise is offered by the Red and White Fleet. The difference between the two cruises is the time of year.

The Twilight Cruise is offered during the winter months . It’s called a Twilight Cruise since the sun will already be down by the time the cruise is underway. However, you do get amazing views of the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, and all around the SF Bay.

The Sunset Cruise is offered the rest of the year . They change the time this San Francisco boat cruise leaves in order to have you on the water during the sunset. You will get some great views of the sunset as long as the fog has not decided to make its way into the bay before the sun goes down.

Both cruises follow the same route. They first head along the northern shoreline, then under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz, past Treasure Island, under the Bay Bridge and then back to Fisherman’s Wharf.

These cruises only leave once a day , so your ticket will be for a specific time.

I love this evening cruise as they also serve a nice buffet of appetizers. You can also enjoy a drink or two on board . There is also a musician on board playing some light music in the background.

It makes for a really nice evening on the water with family, friends or your romantic partner.

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San Francisco Is A City Known For Its Rolling Hills And Iconic Architecture One Of The Best Ways Of Seeing This Unique Skyline Is From The Middle Of The Bay On A San Francisco Boat Tour

A lot of Travelers think the boat to Alcatraz will be the same as San Francisco boat tours. But they really are not one in the same. On Alcatraz day tours, the ferry simply shuttles people to the island and back to mainland. Its only on the Alcatraz night tour where you will enjoy a narrated boat tour around the island.

Luckily, just about every San Francisco boat tour will include sailing past Alcatraz Island. In addition, most Bay cruises will cruise beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. And if youre lucky, youll be able to see the McCovey Cove the famous cove behind the baseball stadium where the Giants play!

We have put together our 10 favorite San Francisco boat tours to help you choose the right one for your San Francisco itinerary. Well be taking a look at the best San Francisco boat tours broken up into three categories:

  • Wine & Beer San Francisco Boat Tours
  • Classic San Francisco Boat Tours
  • San Francisco Boat Tours for Thrill Seekers
  • Looking for boat rentals while you are in town instead of a tour? SF Bay Adventures can get you set up with a small boat rental in San Francisco.

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