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Farallon Islands -- Gulf of the Farallones

The Farallon Islands are located 27 miles off the coast of California west of San Francisco, in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The islands support a spectacular assemblage of wildlife including nearly million seabirds such as the common murre, Cassin's auklet, and tufted puffin. During late spring and summer, Seabirds use the islands for breeding, nesting, and raising their chicks. The Farallones also are important habitat for thousands of seals and sea lions that use the islands for breeding and resting. The waters surrounding the islands are some of the richest waters on the planet and provide important ocean habitat for many species of porpoises and dolphins such as harbor porpoise, Pacific white-sided dolphin, and Dahl's porpoise. The islands also provide migratory destinations and/or migration pathways for many species including the great white shark and whales, such as the orca or killer whale, the gray whale, and the endangered humpback and blue whale. Given appropriate sea conditions, this eight hour adventure allows us to explore not only the islands, but more pelagic, deep ocean waters west of the Farallones.

The coastal Miwok's called the Farallones the "islands of the dead" because they believed they visited the islands in spirit only. Their boats crafted of Tule reeds could not make it through the rough seas to the Farallon islands, but myth has it they sent their dead wrapped in the Tule reeds to the island of the spirits. These islands have also been called "the Galapagos of central California" and because of the spectacular seasonal display of richness and abundance, wildlife observations are unparalleled.

Years ago, these 90 million year old chunks of granite were inhabited by lighthouse keepers and their families. Today, only research scientists from Point Reyes Bird Observatory live on the island, and depending on season, studies to answer important questions about this complex ecosystem are being conducted on seabirds, sharks, seals and sea lions.

Information on the Farallon Islands:

  • Great White Sharks can be spotted October and November
  • Gray whales migrate north in the spring and south in the fall
  • Blue and humpback whales migrate to waters off central California June - November
    Check our Schedule for dates of trips and make reservations online at

    Farallon Islands, Rangers Houses Farallon Island Ranger Housing

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