West Coast Sailing Destinations: San Francisco

San Francisco is full of great tourist destinations, and most of the world-renown sites are located right on the water! Sailing around San Francisco Bay offers sites of San Francisco’s breathtaking waterfront. You can sail around Alcatraz or pass under the Golden Gate Bridge, but this boater's paradise offers more great sailing destinations than what you've seen on a postcard. Here are some great places to check out:

Ayala Cove, Angel Island

Angel Island State Park is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay, and is perfect for a day trip. Stop by at Cove Cantina Oyster Bar or Angel Island Cafe and relax in the beautiful green fields. Take a relaxing hike around the island and explore Point Knox and the Knox Point Lighthouse. Or soak in the history of this island and take a tour via segway, diggler scooter, or tram. Ayala Cove, accessible within Racoon Straight on the north side of the island, has the largest public docks and moorings on the bay and is well-protected from wind and swell. The docks offer 19 boat slips for day use and are available on a first-come, first- served basis. The fee for day use is $15. If you plan to stay overnight, moorings are available for $30 per night. Keep in mind that from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM, boaters are not allowed on the island without a permit to camp on one of the island's 9 campsites. 

Marina Bay Yacht Harbor, Richmond

Any history buffs will love this historic marina. Marina Bay was developed in the mid-1980s on the site of WWII-era Kaiser Shipyards #2 and hosts the Rosie the Riveter Monument, to commemorate women’s contributions to the war effort, and the former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. Surrounded by parks and the Bay Trail, with beautiful views of Downtown San Francisco, Oakland, Marina Bay, and the entire San Francisco Bay area Marina Bay Yacht Harbor gives boaters easy access to the Central Bay, San Rafael Bay, San Francisco, and the Pacific.

Downtown Napa and Napa Valley Vineyards

The Napa River has long been known for as the spot with the warmest weather in closest proximity to San Francisco. There’s a full-service marina and boatyard—perhaps the only one with wineries nearby—one restaurant with a guest dock, and a yacht club. With a reservation, you can dock at Napa Valley Marina for $1.00/foot overnight. You can also stay at the Napa Valley Yacht Club for $1.50/foot. Downtown Napa with its many restaurants, wine tasting rooms and brew pubs is a short walk along the river-front.


Dock your vessel at Sausalito Yacht Harbor or Clipper Yacht Harbor, with over 700 slips, and take a stroll around this beloved Bay Area city. With a beautiful view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito is the perfect place to enjoy lunch waterside at places such as The Trident, Barrel House Tavern, or Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib. It’s also a great place to watch some whales or sea lions or explore some of the downtown shops. For access to Horeshoe Cove, guest docks are available at Presidio Yacht Club Marina on a first-come, first-served basis. The yacht club offers a great place to eat and drink overlooking the beautiful bridge as well as scenic hiking trails and rich historic opportunities including the Bay Area Discovery Museum and Fort Baker.

Bair Island, Redwood City 

This luxury marina offers a rich and recollective Old Italian port ambience for the perfect taste of South San Francisco Bay. Around Bair Island Marina, you can explore the many shops and restaurants, like Old Port Lobster Shack or La Viga, or explore the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge and look out for endangered species among the protected marshes. Or take a break from the sea to relax in the marina’s own pools and Jacuzzis.

Pier 39, San Francisco

The most famous pier in San Francisco, Pier 39 is a perfect place to experience the city by the water. Stay at the guest docks for only $25/day and get access to all of Pier 39's shops, street art and music, and dining. Top by Neptune’s Waterfront Grill & Bar or the city favorite Boudin Bakery for some clam chowder and sourdough bread. Other popular attractions in the area include Ghirardelli Square and Coit Tower.

Leave a Comment