One of the best ways to see the San Francisco Bay is by seaplane. I highly recommend the Norcal Coastal Tour by Seaplane Adventures to get those breathtaking views. The tour started just over the Golden Gate Bridge, flew over Marin County, with highlights of Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and over downtown San Francisco.
We were lucky to have a pretty clear day and you could even see the tips of the Farallon Islands, which are 27 miles off the coast from San Francisco and part of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. In May, we tried to get out there for a closer look on an all day whale-watching tour but the ocean conditions weren’t going to allow for it. I would love to try again because it is the largest seabird rookery in the contiguous United States and has plenty of marine life.
To see Alamere Falls at Point Reyes National Seashore requires a 13-mile round trip hiking adventure through the Philip Burton Wilderness. I haven’t had the chance to check out Point Reyes yet but I hear there is a lot of wildlife viewing opportunities!
The plane made a couple of passes by Alcatrez and I caught a glimpse of the cormorant colony (noted by the “black dots” below). Three species of cormorants use Alcatraz, including Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, and the Double-crested Cormorant. Other species known to be found on the island inlude Western and California Gulls, Black Oystercatchers, and Pigeon Guillemots. Before Alcatraz Island was a prison, it actually was an important nesting area. Luckily, birds have reclaimed the island but still face human disturbances.