The group of islands and sea stacks known as the Farallones lies just 27 miles off the coast of Ocean Beach. You know they’re out there—even if you can’t always see them from shore—evoking an air of mystery for seasoned locals. Called the Devil’s Teeth by sailors and California’s Galapagos among naturalists, these wild islands are home to whales, seals, and seabirds worthy of National Geographic. And, from late summer through the end of November, great white sharks.
Bay Area legends whisper of sharks circling Alcatraz, but the Farallones are really where it’s at. This is the only place where cage diving with great whites is legal, and two different outfitters, Great White Adventures and Incredible Adventures, offer one-day dives with certified instructors during feeding season. Anyone can dive—no experience necessary—but this trip is not for the faint of heart. (Though onlookers, called “topsiders,” are allowed to watch from a distance.) The asking price is hefty ($775), but it’s worth it for thrill-seekers craving an up-close, real-life Jaws experience.
Scared? san francisco whale tours (sanfrancisco whaletours.com) has led expeditions to the Farallones since 2007. Summer is the best time to go, when the blue and humpback whales are all out and about. But at six to seven hours of navigating some of the nation’s roughest waters, this is no pleasure cruise for unsuspecting tourists. “Locals confuse these treks with something touristy since our boats embark from Pier 39,” says SF Whale Tours co-owner Kat Nazar. “But when we do get locals aboard, they’re among our most enthusiastic passengers. It’s like they’ve only just realized that, along with everything else, San Francisco also has the Farallones.”
This article was published in 7x7's July/August issue. Click here to subscribe.