Defy the Cold and Go Whale Watching at the Farallon Islands

A whale surfaces briefly near the Farallon Islands. Flickr/Molly

(Pat Thurston) It’s the Monday before Christmas. The Russian ambassador to Turkey was just assassinated. The electors are casting their votes and soon Donald Trump will become the actual President-elect of the United States of America. He’ll be President of the U.S. when he is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

And what do I have on my mind? Whales.

Yesterday I took one of those whale watching tours out to the Farallon Islands with my daughters and my two sisters. It’s an amazing trip. If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids or out of town guests that’s a little out of the ordinary, go on this trip.

You travel on a boat (obviously) with a heated cabin though you’ll spend most of your time outside on the deck. Dress very warmly. Dress more warmly than you think you should. Trust me. You go under the Golden Gate Bridge and travel along the Marin coastline for a period of time, all the while watching for whales and observing tons of sea lions, pelicans and a smattering of dolphins (thought my smarty pants sister insists they’re porpoises).

At a certain point along the coastline, you turn toward the Farallons and that’s where most of the whales are. Slowly coasting around the Farallons is remarkable. If you have a great tour guide, he or she will talk with you about the history of the islands the research personnel who live there for periods of time. You watch for the geyser from a blow hole and the captain or crew member shouts out “Thar she blows!” It’s such a thrill.

Some you see from a distance, a few a much closer to the boat where you not only view the blow hole but the magnificent beast herself.

As you head back to Pier 39, the trip is shorter and a great many people aboard nap. If you’re more like me, you watch the coastline, try to identify places and things, and thrill to the dolphins/porpoises along your route…always watching for that blown mist from a wayward whale.

Enjoy your holiday season. Merry Christmas. Peace on earth. Goodwill towards men.


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