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Eye-Catching Pics of San Francisco Bay & Sausalito by Roundtrip Ferry

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Looking towards a ferry on San Francisco Bay.

Looking towards a ferry on San Francisco Bay.

San Francisco Adventure

On our sightseeing trip while in San Francisco one year, we decided to use one of our days to experience seeing this city on the bay from the water while taking a ferry to Sausalito and back. See many photos of that day-tripping water-filled adventure.

It was the end of April. The sunshine was kissing the tops of the waves like diamonds sprinkled from the sky.

The cool brisk air and salty breezes made wearing a sweater comfortable. Tickets in hand after taking a cable car ride to Fisherman's Wharf, we boarded the ferry at 11:05 in the morning.

People on board the top deck of the ferry.

People on board the top deck of the ferry.


Service by ferries in this area has a long history. A ferry service dates back to the 1820s. Through the years, ferry services have waxed and waned. Today they are an integral part of the transportation between different areas on San Francisco Bay and beyond.

These ferries run on regular schedules between San Francisco and Sausalito. Instead of driving and paying fees to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and paying for parking spaces, we found out that many businessmen and women regularly use these ferries as their typical mode of workday transportation.

It makes sense! Once arriving in San Francisco, the cable cars offer frequent service running on regular timed schedules if walking distances are too far or taxi's too expensive.

Naturally, tourists also clamber aboard for sightseeing adventures, such as my husband and I were doing on this fine day. We chose the top deck like these people in the picture for our cruise across the bay to Sausalito.

Alcatraz Island

This proximity would be as close to Alcatraz Island as we have ever gotten. Each time my husband and I were vacationing in San Francisco and wished to tour Alcatraz in person, events were taking place there, or at the time we wanted to go, there were no tickets still available for sale.

Alcatraz Island sits out in the cold frigid waters of San Francisco Bay, a mile and a half from the shore. It has a lighthouse.

In the past, it was a military fortification and also served as a prison. The latter is what made it so famous. When it was serving as a prison, escape was virtually impossible because of strong treacherous water currents.

Today it is open for tours and special events and is a national recreational area.

Golden Gate Bridge

What a terrific and dramatic backdrop the bridge made in photos! Viewing it from the water at a distance, I can see why the Golden Gate Bridge is considered to be one of the "Wonders of the Modern World."

Many people seemed to be enjoying this fine day and were out in San Francisco Bay in numerous watercraft, including many sailboats. The brisk breezes did a great job in keeping those multicolored sails filled, and with the expertise of the sailors aboard the boats, they seemed to be skimming the waves and fluttering back and forth like so many brightly hued butterflies.

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Approaching Sausalito

After rounding Alcatraz Island and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, our ferry kept traversing the bay waters drawing us ever nearer to Sausalito, where we would disembark for several hours of sightseeing. At first, Sausalito appeared small and insignificant as all things do when seen from a distance. As we kept getting closer, details started emerging and coming into better focus and perspective.

With transportation being frequent and regular between San Francisco and Sausalito, the piers accommodating the embarking and disembarking passengers are well thought out and constructed. We exited and gave ourselves quite a few hours to walk and explore this charming town of Sausalito.

Rustic houses cling to the sides of the steep slopes offering terrific bay views. Lush greenery abounds, and this is a boat lovers' haven. Open deck restaurants or those with large windows capitalize on the water views.

Yachts, Marinas, and Houseboats

There is no shortage of yachts, sailboats, or other watercraft of every type, size, and description in Sausalito. With the mild climate, people who can afford to live in places like this certainly seem to enjoy life. And for others, visiting can be a fun and rewarding experience. One can be as nautical as one desires by renting watercraft or hiring others to take one out on the water for different occasions.

There are several marinas along the coastline near Sausalito accommodating all kinds of watercraft and even houseboats. Sausalito has a sizable houseboat community of over 400 moorings there, where people call them home. According to Wikipedia, 99.8 percent of the 7,061 residents (from the 2010 census), live-aboard floating homes!

Sausalito Scenery

This small town consists of only 2.2 square miles (5.8 km), and of that, only 1.9 square miles ( 4.9 km) is actual land. Prices for these homes are expensive. Sausalito is in Marin County. As of 2010, people living in Marin County had the 5th highest incomes per person in the United States. I guess that helps account for all of those beautiful boats moored in the many marinas!

We continued our exploration of Sausalito on foot, keeping track of the time.

As we walked some of the steep hillsides leading to the homes where people dwell, nasturtiums covered many of those hillsides. It drew our attention because my mother-in-law used to grow nasturtiums in her garden in San Antonio, Texas, and often added some of the flowers to salads. They add a spicy note when eaten and, of course, are also a pretty plant. Grown here in Sausalito, they also obviously make a good ground cover, helping to negate the effects of hillside erosion.

Chinese Junk Sighting

The picture below was taken through a glass window from a restaurant where we took time to have some lunch. San Francisco is in the background but what drew our immediate attention was that black colored Chinese junk! It was a dramatic difference from the usual boats seen in these waters.

Look at that Chinese junk (boat) on the water!

Look at that Chinese junk (boat) on the water!

Return Trip

All too soon, our time had come to re-board the ferry back to San Francisco. So, with memorable impressions of Sausalito, we walked onboard the ferry and enjoyed these watery views on the return trip to Fisherman's Wharf.

Taking the ferry was a most enjoyable way to get a different perspective of both San Francisco and Sausalito. It also provided pretty views in between, like Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, the numerous pleasure craft dotting San Francisco Bay, and the town and cityscapes from the water.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2021:

Hi William,

I am glad that reading this article brought back some happy memories for you. My husband and I truly enjoyed visiting Sausalito in this manner. We also drove through it several times on our way up to the wine country north of San Francisco.

William on February 10, 2021:

We have taken this very enjoyable ferry ride. On several trips to SF we discovered a very fine restaurant in Sausalito, especially for breakfast. Thanks for the good memories.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2014:

Hi Au fait,

Thanks for the additional pin & share. Some photos grab people more than others. I am really enjoying Pinterest these days. :)

C E Clark from North Texas on July 01, 2014:

Pinning the excellent article of yours to my 'Travel' board again, but this time with the photo of Alcatraz. Also going to share it with followers.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2014:

Hi GmaGoldie,

Getting to see Sausalito from the water as well as on land was a special treat. Glad you liked these views from the water since you have been there and obviously enjoy that town.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on May 21, 2014:

Peggy, I fell in love with Sausalito but never had the opportunity to take the ferry - what a fantastic idea - that way you can clearly experience the intricate coastline that Sausalito offers. I felt an energy at the Park that was inexplicable and I recall clearly even to this day. Sausalito is an art town that is truly heavenly.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 14, 2013:

Hi Always Optimist,

So glad that you enjoyed these photos and the information. Thanks!

Always Optimist from India on July 13, 2013:

Peggy very beautiful pictures. Loved them, voting up and 5 stars and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2013:

Hi vespawoolf,

So nice that you have friends in that beautiful area and may get to visit them this Fall. My mother-in-law used to have nasturtiums in her garden and seeing so many being used as ground cover definitely caught my eye. Thanks for the vote and share.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 22, 2013:

We once took the ferry around the bay, so this was like a walk down memory lane. Thank you for sharing your photos! We love San Fran and Marin County and may go there to see friends this Fall. I like that you added a photo of the nasturtiums that keep the hills from eroding--you have an eye for plant life! Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 19, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

We really did enjoy just being tourists and would highly recommend doing this if one has enough time. It made for a fun day! Thanks!

C E Clark from North Texas on June 15, 2013:

A great way to spend the day just seeing the sights if one is a tourist, or a great idea for a date! Lots of good information and great photos. Going to share this hub with my followers again, and then I'm going to pin it to my "Travel" board.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 06, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

Guess I was feeling a little poetic with that description. Ha! So glad that you enjoyed this ferry trip across San Francisco Bay with us and got to see a bit of Sausalito via these photos. It was a most enjoyable day. Appreciate your star rating of this hub, the votes and the share. Thanks!

C E Clark from North Texas on May 05, 2013:

Love your sentence near the beginning, "It was towards the end of April and the sunshine . . . and so many great photos as always. Found this article especially interesting and informative. Voting it up, BAUI, and will share! Oh, and I gave you another 5 stars!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2012:

Hi Written Up,

Enjoy your trip out west to see Sausalito. It is a great town just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Whether your trip is business or pleasure, I am sure that you will enjoy the waterfront town. Thanks for your comment.

Written Up from Oklahoma City, OK on July 09, 2012:

Hoping to visit sausalito in the next few weeks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 13, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

Even if you have not been there in a while, you HAVE enjoyed sightseeing in San Francisco from what you said and seeing it from the perspective of the ferry between that city and Sausalito was a special treat for us while on vacation one day. Thanks for the visit and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 13, 2012:

I haven't been there in ages and your pics make me want to go back. A shame, since it's only about an hour's flight from where I live. Voting this Up and Beautiful.