When deciding to go to San Francisco before heading onward to Hawaii I knew one thing I had to do in San Francisco was go whale watching, when I was in Canada we went out to watch orcas which was incredible especially to see them in the wild and not in the endless photos of them in captivity. However, I have dreamed for so long to see an humpback whale! So we booked on a 6 hour tour to the Gulf of Farallon islands with San Francisco whale tours.
It was another early morning, arriving at Pier 39 at around seven thirty am. It was a nice contrast to see the pier in the morning empty of people, silent and waiting for people to come and fill it up with noise and excitement. Slowly people started to arrive ready to check in for the tour, in total there was around 30-40 of us. Once we had all arrived our guide gave us safety information, details about the tour, potential sighting, discussed sea sickness, the usual stuff you would expect. The boat we would be going out on was called the Kitty Kat, a catamaran boat, if you haven't heard of catamaran boat it is basically a multi-hulled boat with two parallel hulls of equal size which creates a gap between the hulls and this was my first time out on one...
It was a lot colder than I had anticipated and I felt a little bit 'dumb' for wearing shorts, whilst everyone else was in jeans, hoodies and warm clothes. The famous San Francisco mist shrouded the Golden Gate bridge, whilst the boat gave incredible views of the city and a quick passing of Alcatraz. There were so many birds in the sky swooping down and feeding on anchovies, the fact there was loads of birds feeding here was a good indicator than there were whales close by! It was just as we were passing under the bridge that we spotted out first spout and I instantly filled up with excitement at seeing a whale in the distance dip and dive in and out of the water. I have to point out here that I took a lot of photos and I thought I might at least get one good photo of a whale, I didn't at all in half of them you have to zoom in to even see what I was attempting to get a photo off.
After watching around 3-4 whales near the bridge we moved on out, we had a mission today. On board our boat were three yearling rescued sea lions who were set to be released near the islands. As the boat moved on the water started to get really choppy, moving from side to side, you could see everyone's initial excitement and enthusiasm slowly turn from being cold, tired and getting sea sick. Unfortunately for me I was one of them, not even going to lie when the person was talking about people getting sea sick I was smug! Not once in my life have I been sea sick so I thought I would handle this trip like a pro and I was so wrong. It was so bad but saying that I wasn't the only one out of the 40 people on board about 10 of them didn't get sick. It was almost like a scene out of a film where one person gets sick then everyone else follows. It was not a pretty sight. A part of me thinks it was the style of boat that caused so many people to get ill. I retreated inside to put my head down on a table to try and make myself feel better. Eventually the boat had pulled up and the captain came inside and told us to go outside now due to the sheer amount of whales around the boat. Wrapped up in a blanket I mustered the energy to drag myself out and go see and it was spectacular in every direction you looked there was whales, endless amounts of tails flipping up in the air. I moved over to the other side of the boat at this point and this guy started talking to me about getting sea sick and gave me a sticker that goes over the belly button which is meant to aid it, although I think it was a little too late at this point but I was grateful for it either way.
Then it happened, I got to see a humpback whale breach. It is so hard to describe how it feels to see a humpback breach especially if you are an animal lover like me but it feels like such a rare moment to witness. I had pretty much given up with taken photos at this point due to feeling sick but it was nice not to try and just admire the incredible moments that were happening right in front of me rather than getting a good photo of it.
Once we had reached the islands we watched the three yearlings get released, they were a bit hesitant at first but once the first one jumped into the water the other two followed suit. I find it interesting to see how they interact once being set freed would they swim of together or in different directions. These three stayed together and two of them did the cutest thing of coming out of the water together and 'kissing' each other. We slowly watched them swim in to the distance before making our journey back to San Francisco. I spent the journey falling asleep with my head on the table but I got to see one more incredible moment before the journeys end in the shape of a blue whale and it was huge.
Overall we got to see up to 80 humpbacks, sea lions and lastly the blue whale. It was such an amazing experience sea sickness and all. The crew on board were fab, full of information and I have no idea how they deal with sea sick members of the public everyday as well as having to clean it up. So if you are ever in San Francisco I highly recommend going whale .