Bay Lights Blog

Top 5 Activities on the Water in San Francisco

by Rich Goldman

San Francisco is the cultural and financial heart of Northern California, a hub of joy and excitement for visitors from all over. The city is famous for its restaurants and some of the best chefs in the country call San Francisco their home.

But apart from the most awesome restaurants that the city prides itself on, it also has access to both the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This means that you will find a variety of activities on the water.

Related Blog: Sailing the San Francisco Bay: A New Perspective

Here are 5 of the top activities on the water in San Francisco:

1. Kayaking

david-straight-101790-unsplashKayaking is hitting the bay in a tiny vessel. You can either rent a kayak or a paddle board for an hour and join group trips. There are trips for beginners, intermediate paddlers and advanced.
Advanced paddlers usually choose to rent. This means that they are just being recommended routes as to where to go and what to see. But if you are a beginner, you would prefer to join a group trip. Experienced guides will then take care of you by making sure you enjoy the experience. Depending on your level, you will be taken out to either McCovey Cove, Treasure Island, or the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kayaking can be a greatly pleasurable water adventure regardless whether you are a beginner or an advanced paddler!

2. Kiteboarding

mira-bozhko-459955-unsplashTry Kiteboarding. What is it? Well, as an information, it's a mix of extreme sports like wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, skateboarding, and sailing. Scared? No, it's not scary. There are various packages. Take an instructor for the beginning. Put on your equipment, stand on your board, forget your fears and ride the waves. You'll never forget this experience. And don't forget about photos. You must show everyone what cool places you have been to!

3. Visiting Alcatraz

Take your backpack, we're going to jail. Thrilling? Well, it’s not a jail anymore. Currently, it's a museum. Welcome to Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is where sir Alphonse Gabriel Capone (known as Al Capone or Scarface) spent 5 years.

The only way you can get here is by boat. The ride to Alcatraz Island takes some 20 minutes only. Once you get there, you will receive a brief introduction. Then you will walk up the hill to pick up your individual audio guides. This means the tour is self-paced which is awesome! A lot of visitors spend 2-3 hours here. Once you are done, you can take any ferry back to San Francisco.

4. Watching the Whales

davide-cantelli-143763-unsplashSF is a great place to go whale watching. All year long, different species are migrating just off the shore of the Pacific coast. The only time you might miss the whales is November to December. So, make sure to pick the right time for this gorgeous water activity. Note that you will also see a lot of dolphins, porpoises, and sea lions in these waters.

5. Hiking across the Golden Gate Bridge

maarten-van-den-heuvel-327179-unsplashThe Golden Gate Bridge is a world-famous destination. It’s located in San Francisco Bay and Martin County. The bridge is considered to be one of the wonders of the modern world. It was opened back in 1937 and has 1.7 miles in length.

A fun fact - the Bridge is the most photographed bridge in the world, and one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco.

There are 6 lanes of traffic on the bridge that carry millions of people every year. But before the bridge was built, people had to get a ferry to take them from point A to point B.

So as soon as you are on the bridge, allow plenty of time for photos. It's possible to make masterpiece photos even with your phone because those views are impossible to capture bad.
Important notice - on the sidewalks of the bridge anything with wheels except bicycles are restricted, and also, you can't take your four-legged friend for a walk on the Bridge.

The second important notice: there are no bathrooms or restrooms on the Bridge. They are located at Vista Point at the north (Marin) end of the Bridge and at the San Francisco side parking lot at the south end of the bridge.

Many tourists say, that it's rather foggy on the Bridge in summer. By the way, the Bridge has its orange color, because orange is visible in the fog. The best time to enjoy the sceneries is autumn. But because it is rainy and windy in autumn, you might not be able to use your umbrella. So take a raincoat just in case.

Impressed with what you can do on the water in SF?

Time to make it real! Get prepared. Make a list of destinations you want to visit. Include layered clothes because the weather is unpredictable in San Francisco, sun protection cream (you will need it), and, of course very comfortable shoes. Do your research, book excursions, take the map of the city, and make sure to have a little time for spontaneous adventures!

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