Kayaking Tomales Bay
If you live in Marin County this should be on your local bucket list: paddling around Tomales Bay in a sea kayak. People, there’s no excuse not to. Even if you’ve never paddled before, these boats are very steady, and the tour guides at Blue Waters Kayaking are very experienced at helping beginners. Besides, you’ll be too busy marveling at the scenery — harbor seals, osprey, pelicans, Sasquatch — to recall any concerns. If you’re a new or novice sea kayaker, I recommend Blue Waters Kayaking’s Inverness morning paddle, which is ideal for beginners (and the safest weather-wise).
COMPANY Blue Waters Kayaking
LENGTH 3 hours
BRING See “What to Bring” on website
KIDS 13 and older can be on a public tour
Ferry Trip to Angel Island
You’ve always wanted to do it, and this is the summer it happens: riding your bike around Angel Island, soaking in the beautiful scenery. But first you have to get there, and lucky for you the Angel Island Ferry company only charges $1 per bicycle after the fare. Here’s the plan: load up two small backpacks with snacks, drinks and a blanket, rack the bikes atop the car, park at one of the nearby all-day lots (additional cost), then buy two $15 round-trip ferry tickets (cash or check only). After the short, scenic trip across Raccoon Straight, you have more than 8 miles of biking trails to explore. End the ride with a picnic at Angel Island’s pretty Ayala Cove and hey, you just had yourself a wonderful day.
COMPANY Angel Island Ferry
LOCATION 21 Main Street, Tiburon
LENGTH 12 minutes
BRING Warm clothing, cash for ferry ticket and parking
PARKING Paid parking lots, downtown Tiburon
KIDS Yes; ages 2 and under free
Sailing on the Bay
It’s probably the smartest $45 you’ll spend at Pier 39 — taking a leisurely sail around the bay on a giant catamaran, getting Instagram-worthy views of the the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the city. Adventure Cat’s big catamarans are the Roll-Royce of sailboats, super stable, with large cabins that protect you from the elements. The more adventurous members of your group can sit on the deck trampolines and watch the waves pass underneath. The optional $60 sunset tour is muy romantico and includes two complimentary beverages (beer, wine, soda) and light snacks. Be sure to bring a jacket and camera.
COMPANY Adventure Cat Sailing Charters
LOCATION Pier 39, Dock J, San Francisco
LENGTH 90 minutes
BRING Warm clothing, soft-soled shoes
PARKING Pier 39 garage
KIDS Yes; 5 and under free
Stand-Up Paddleboard Lessons
What a great answer to “Did you do anything fun this weekend?” You: “I sure as heck did. I took a stand-up paddleboarding lesson in San Rafael and it was a blast!” The staff at 101 Surf Sports are the best in the Bay Area at teaching you the basics of the sport, from terminology to proper technique. The calm waters behind the shop are ideal for learning how to paddle, and the water’s warm enough that you won’t need a wetsuit. 101 Surf Sports offers a discounted hour-long group lesson every Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in San Rafael, including all the gear you’ll need, and you’re free to paddle as long as you want after your lesson.
COMPANY 101 Surf Sports
LOCATION 115 Third Street, San Rafael
LENGTH 1 hour
BRING Towel, sunscreen, change of clothes
PARKING Free at lot
KIDS Minimum recommended age for kids is 10
Golden Gate Whale Watching Tours
It’s been a banner year for spotting whales in the bay, which is way easier than heading out into the open ocean. Every March through October, San Francisco Whale Tours offers $59 whale-watching trips departing from Pier 39. Think of it as a scenic bay cruise with a chance of spotting humpbacks tossed in. At a minimum you’ll see harbor seals, sea lions, seabird colonies and possibly porpoises. Marine naturalists are always on board to narrate the trip and answer questions. It’s the kind of spiritually uplifting excursion that makes you realize that we Northern Californians are very lucky to be living in one of the most incredibly diverse regions on earth.
COMPANY San Francisco Whale Tours
LOCATION Pier 39
LENGTH 2.5 hours
BRING Warm clothing, binoculars
PARKING Pier 39 garage
KIDS 2 and under free, $35 ages 3–15
Deep Sea Fishing
If you’ve never angled for rockfish from a Bay Area charter boat, be forewarned that it is an extremely complicated four-step process: 1. get on the fishing boat; 2. grab a pre-rigged fishing pole; 3. lower your line into the water when everyone else does; and 4. reel in the fish. Everything else, from taking the fish off the hook to cleaning, filleting and bagging it, is taken care of by the friendly deckhands, which makes deep-sea fishing pretty much idiot-proof (tip: alert the deckhands before you depart that you’re a newbie). New Rayann skipper Johnny “Fresh” Atkinson loves taking first-timers out fishing, so give him a call, then dust off your cioppino recipe.
COMPANY New Rayann Sport Fishing
LOCATION Clipper Yacht Harbor, Sausalito
LENGTH 4-6 hours
BRING Fishing license, cooler for fillets, cash for tip
PARKING Free at Clipper Yacht Harbor lot
KIDS Bring ’em