Farallon Islands — Photo courtesy of WikimediaThere are a few famous islands around San Francisco. Tiburon Island, just off of Sausalito, is easy to spot with its zillion-dollar homes nestled within sculpted oaks. There's Angel Island, or the "Ellis Island of the West," where immigrants waited to be either cleared for the mainland or shipped back home. And, of course, there's Alcatraz, the infamous "Rock," which has the reputation as the hardest, coldest island around San Francisco.
But on clear days, if you look directly west from the city, you can spot some larger, more jagged and more menacing rock islands that Al Capone wouldn't last two days on. These are the lesser known but equally impressive Farrallon Islands.
Farallon Islands — Photo courtesy of WikimediaThe Oceanic Society has led boat trips to the Farallons since 1984 and offer the most comprehensive program for whale-watchers and sea creature enthusiasts. The Farallons have such a diversity of wildlife because they sit on the edge of the continental shelf, and a seasonal upswell brings all kinds of rich life up from the deep.
And where there are small fish, there are bigger fish hunting them, including the largest animals on earth - blue whales - and the most feared - great white sharks. In fact, if you want to go farther out on the edge than most, there are even shark cage-diving trips to the Farallons.
Fear not; you don't have to jump into a shark cage to appreciate the wild beauty of these islands. If you have the nerve - and the stomach - for a bumpy, misty Pacific boat ride, sign up for a trip to the Farallons and an unforgettable voyage to one of the most fascinating places on Earth.