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San Francisco Bay Tours

The Five Best Cruises on the SF Bay

Taking one of the San Francisco Bay Tours is a great way to learn more about the SF bay and its famous attractions. Most tours cruise past Alcatraz Island and along the waterfront.

The highlight of each one is the time you spend cruising under the Golden Gate Bridge. Along the way, you will learn more about all of the attractions you pass by and quite a bit about the history of the city.

bay cruise in SF
One of the bay cruises heading under the Golden Gate Bridge

Here is a list of the five best San Francisco bay cruises. Each one has a slightly different cruising route and set of additional benefits, so read them closely to find the best one for you.

1. Golden Gate Bay Cruise

bay cruiseTour Length: 60 minutes | Estimated Price: $30

The most popular (and least expensive) of the San Francisco Bay Tours is the Golden Gate Bay Cruise. It's a one hour narrated ride the loops around the SF waterfront.

Your cruise starts along the waterfront. You head west past several SF sights including Fort Mason, the Marina District 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. Throughout your cruise, you'll learn more about each attraction including their history and some fun facts.

After you float under the Golden Gate 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.

This is one of the San Francisco Bay Tours that starts and ends at Pier 43 1/2 in Fisherman's Wharf. Once you decide when you want to go, all you have to do is show up and hop on the next one that is available.

Here are the typical departure times for these San Francisco Bay Tours. All times are daily except where noted.

Spring Season: March 29 to May 22
10am, 10:45am, 11:15am, 12pm, 1:15pm, 1:45pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:45pm, 4:15pm, 5pm

Summer Season: May 23 to September 3
10am, 10:45am, 11:15am, 12pm, 1:15pm, 1:45pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:45pm, 4:15pm, 5pm, 6:15pm

Fall Season: September 4 to November 3
10am, 10:45am, 11:15am, 12pm, 1:15pm, 1:45pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:45pm, 4:15pm, 5pm

Winter Season: Nov 4 to March 31
10am, 10:45am (Sat and Sun only), 11:15am, 12pm, 1:15pm, 1:45pm, 2:30pm, 3pm, 3:45pm, 4:15pm (Sat and Sun only)

Book your tickets for the Golden Gate Cruise today!

Discover more details on what to expect and some pictures from my last tour.

2. San Francisco Sailing Cruise

bay sailing cruiseTour Length: 90 minutes | Estimated Price: $40

The San Francisco Sailing Cruise is another one of the popular San Francisco Bay Tours. On this one, you'll experience even more of the SF views and attractions.

Your 90-minute adventure takes place on a 55' or 65' catamaran with 360-degree views. You'll sail past Alcatraz Island as you learn more about this infamous prison. You'll then cruise along the northern waterfront and past both Sausalito and Tiburon.

The fun continues as you head over to the Golden Gate Bridge. This massive and breathtaking structure sits high above the water. You'll learn quite a bit about its history and fun facts as you sail under it.

This one gives you a close up look of all of these attractions from its canvas trampoline nets. On chilly days, you can also warm up in one of the areas on the boat that is protected from the wind.

Here are the typical cruise times.

  • March 4 to November 5: Departs at 1:00pm and 3:00pm
  • November 6 to November 27: Departs at 1:00pm

Learn more and book your tickets for the SF Bay Sailing Cruise adventure.

San Francisco Bay Cruise Deals

Before we continue the list, I want to give you a list of some of the great deals available on San Francisco Bay Tours. All of these cruises are on Goldstar and many of them are offered at up to 50% off!

*A small additional fee will apply.

3. San Francisco Bridge to Bridge Cruise

bridge to bridge cruiseTour Length: 90 minutes | Estimated Price: $38

The next of the San Francisco Bay Tours on my list is the Bridge to Bridge Cruise. The best part about this one is you get the chance to ride under both the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge!

As with the Golden Gate Bay Cruise, you will cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, past Alcatraz and the bay side town of Sausalito. With the additional 30 minutes, you will also cruise under the Bay Bridge, past Treasure Island and over to AT&T park where the SF Giants play.

Not only do you have 30 additional minutes, but also the narration on this cruise will give you a deeper understanding of San Francisco's history.

It has the basic history of San Francisco that you could get on other cruises. However, the narration on this cruise also includes details of San Francisco's Native American History, the history of the architecture for many of its key landmarks and also the natural history of the city.

Each person gets their own headset with separate volume controls, so you can always hear the narration. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available.

This ticket also gives you flexibility. As with the San Francisco Bay Cruise, you don't have to book your ticket for a specific date and/or time. Instead, you can use it on any day of your visit.

Here are the typical departure times.

  • January 1 to March 31: Departs at noon on Thurs, Fri and Sat
  • April 1 to May 21: Departs daily at 12:30pm and 2:15pm
  • May 22 to September 2: Departs daily at 12:30pm, 2:15pm, 4pm and 5:30pm
  • September 3 to November 3: Departs daily at 12:30pm and 2:15pm

Grab your tickets for the San Francisco Bridge to Bridge Cruise today!

Want to learn more first? Discover a recap and pictures from my last time taking this tour.

4. San Francisco Sunset Catamaran Cruise

sunset bay cruiseTour Length: 90 minutes | Estimated Price: $55

Another one of the best San Francisco Bay Tours is the Sunset Catamaran Cruise. This smooth sailing adventure offers you 360° views of the SF Bay and all of its attractions.

This one runs just once a day and starts just before sunset. On this tour, you sail past Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge. You also get some of the most amazing views of the SF skyline.

Included in the price are some light appetizers that you can enjoy as you ride around the bay on this Adventure Cat 55' or 65' Catamaran. Two drinks are also included with each ticket.

It does get chilly at night here - especially along the bay. Make sure you bring along a jacket. You can also step into the wind protection area if you need to warm up a little more.

Soft-soled shoes are also recommended so you can easily walk around the catamaran.

If you love the water and want to spend a relaxing evening cruising around the bay, then this is the tour for you!

Here are the estimated times this leaves by season:

  • Spring: 6pm or 6:30pm
  • Summer: 7pm
  • Fall: 6pm or 6:30pm
  • Winter: 5pm

Check availability and book your tickets for the San Francisco Bay Sunset Catamaran Cruise. Make sure to confirm the exact time you leave based on your ticketing information.

5. San Francisco Champagne Brunch Cruise

champagne cruiseTour Length: 2 hours | Estimated Price: $99.23

One of my favorite San Francisco Bay Tours is the weekend Champagne Brunch Cruise. This cruise is a little longer and has a few more benefits than all of the other San Francisco bay cruises mentioned above.

This cruise follows a similar route as the others. You will get the chance to cruise along the shores of San Francisco, under the Golden Gate Bridge and past Alcatraz Island.

This cruise spends a little more time by the Golden Gate Bridge. It also stops for a fun champagne toast under the Golden Gate Bridge.

The rest of the time, you will cruise past some other SF attractions along the bay including Treasure Island and the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

During the cruise, you can enjoy some additional complimentary champagne with your brunch buffet (freshly baked breads, scrambled eggs & sausage and other locally produced foods). Tables are available both outside and indoors.

Boarding starts 30 minutes before the cruise departs. Head to the ferry terminal early to get the best spots.

Tour Times: 11:00 am, Sundays only

Find out more and book your tickets for this San Francisco Champagne Brunch Cruise.

More San Francisco Tour Recommendations

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Are you still not sure where you should stay during your visit? Check out my San Francisco lodging and hotel recommendations.

> > 5 Best Bay Cruises

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