California
Boat Tours & River Cruises

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Our most recommended California Cruises & Boat Tours

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

The tour departs from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boat sets sail into the harbor, home to breathtaking sea views. As the tour leaves the dock, catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Upon leaving the harbor, the boat passes the historic Cannery Row and then enters the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Monterey is one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to the deep submarine canyon close to shore. This is where the search for the wonders of the bay’s marine life begins. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled as you scan the water for the abundance of marine life that lives here. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, fin whales and more. As you sail, listen to the onboard biologist provide fascinating insight into the creatures of the bay, and what is done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. You can expect to see humpback whales daily but, you may also see blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales. One of largest movements of mammals on earth happens just off the coast of Pacific Grove, CA – the south end of Monterey Bay. Gray whales pass by the coast, about a 30-minute ride from Monterey Harbor. Due to the short distance from the “gray whale super highway”, the trips can be shorter in duration for the winter time.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

2. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

Sacramento Historic River Cruise

3. Sacramento Historic River Cruise

Spend the afternoon on a one-hour narrated cruise. Learn about the legendary past of California's capital city, from the first days of the Gold Rush to the booming metropolis that is here today. Set in Old Sacramento, California’s capital and the center of the state’s legendary Gold Rush story, cruises here drift down the scenic Sacramento River and provide a peek at historic sites and modern developments alike.

San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

4. San Francisco: 1-Hour Bay Cruise by Boat

Enjoy a 1-hour journey along San Francisco's historic waterfront and experience the thrilling history of the San Francisco Bay, with all the sound and glory it deserves. The 1-hour non-stop Bay Cruise takes you past the famous PIER 39 sea lions and along San Francisco’s historic waterfront, revealing the city’s fascinating skyline. Relax in comfort, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and enjoy a full narration describing major landmarks as you sail by. See sights like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the iconic San Francisco skyline as you go. Whether it’s your first time to San Francisco, or your 10th visit, the Bay Cruise is something you should experience at least once in your life. You will get a complimentary souvenir map, which is available in nine languages, and if you get hungry, there’s a full-service snack bar on board with food and drink available to purchase.

South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

5. South Lake Tahoe: Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay

Embark on a 2-hour sightseeing cruise starting in South Lake Tahoe either at sunset or during the day. Enjoy the scenic beauty while cruising 11 kilometers across the lake to Emerald Bay, one of the top ten most photographed places in the world. See the majestic mountains of South Lake Tahoe while onboard the world-class Tahoe Bleu Wave yacht. As you cruise, you will find indoor and outdoor seating with 360-degree panoramic views of Lake Tahoe, the snow-capped mountains, Fannette Island, Vikingsholm Castle, Eagle Waterfall, and the Rubicon. Navigate the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe while hearing your captain's narration about this lake. You may even get the chance to see a variety of wildlife such as the bald eagle, black bears, and wild geese. If you've chosen the sunset option, relax and watch the sun dip low below the sky.

Newport Beach: 2-Hour Whale Watching Tour

6. Newport Beach: 2-Hour Whale Watching Tour

On these year-round cruises off Newport Beach, many whale varieties are regularly seen including the giant blue whale (summer and fall), finback whale, grey whale (winter and spring), minke whale, and humpback whale. Several types of dolphin, seals, and all sorts of other marine life are typically spotted on the excursions as well. The cruises depart from Newport Harbor, located in the heart of Orange County, which is just a short drive from both Los Angeles and San Diego. Each cruise is a unique experience as you may never know what you might encounter. A recent cruise encountered a pod of more than 30 killer whales, including adults and their young, making for a whale watching adventure of a lifetime. The cruises enjoy a 96 percent success rate viewing whales and/or dolphin.

San Diego: Dinner Cruise

7. San Diego: Dinner Cruise

The three-hour Dinner Cruise combines culinary excellence – think crisp salads, braised ribs and oven roasted salmon entrees, and luscious desserts – with unforgettable scenery and ambient music.  This Nightly Dinner cruise is famous around the world and is compared to the dinner cruises in New York and in Paris. San Diego’s dinner cruise combines breathtaking city views, great food, and drinks.  Stroll the spacious decks, watch the sunset before dinner. Dinner is buffet-style with an elaborate wine list, upgrades and additions, and vegetarian option. After dinner, listen to relaxing music, as you enjoy your dessert and coffee. Photos are taken at beginning of the cruise, can be purchased at the end! You’ll be thrilled to know that your dining experience does not have cruise-style seating, you’ll have privacy at your table and not be seated with strangers.

San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

8. San Francisco: Bridge to Bridge Cruise

See both the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on a single boat tour with personal headphone audio included. Explore San Francisco's famous landmarks, history, natural history, architecture, and Native American culture on board this unique bay cruise. During the 90-minute round trip cruise you'll depart from Fisherman's Wharf, one of the city's busiest tourist attractions. From there, sail under the Golden Gate Bridge. Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate is one of the world's most famous and beautiful bridges, and was at one point the largest suspension bridge in the world. Cruise past Alcatraz Island, once home of one of the world's most infamous prisons, and take the chance to enjoy the stunning San Francisco waterfront. The boat will pass along the harbor before heading under the colossal San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Then it's time to head back to the charming city of San Francisco by the sea.

San Diego: Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

9. San Diego: Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

See the sights of San Diego Bay on a fully-narrated cruise. Pass by Seaport Village, Shelter Island, Coronado Island, Point Loma, and Cabrillo National Monument, among other notable points of interest, while taking in beautiful skyline views. Choose between a 1-hour cruise of either the North or South Harbor, or book the 2-hour cruise, which includes both. San Diego’s North Harbor cruise takes you past historic ships in the Maritime Museum, Harbor Island, North Island Naval Air Station, and Shelter Island. The South Harbor route includes sightings of the Coronado Bridge, the U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier, the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet, and the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. As you sail, keep a lookout for wildlife such as blue herons, sea lions, and pelicans Listen as your professional crew provides commentary about the rich local and military history, points of interest, and facts about San Diego Bay. This sightseeing cruise also showcases local environmental conservation efforts through video clips and onboard displays.

Sacramento: Rock The Yacht River Cruise

10. Sacramento: Rock The Yacht River Cruise

Try something different for your next night out and set sail from Old Town Sacramento on a 90-minute Rock the Yacht cruise. Kick back and relax with friends and meet new ones! Enjoy the fresh breeze of the river and soak up the sights of Sacramento.  Purchase hand-crafted drinks and snacks from the yacht's two fully-stocked bars. Choose from an array of expertly crafted cocktails, beer, or wine, as you relax and take in the river views. Sail from L Street Dock in Old Town and coast under the Tower Bridge. Let your hair down and delight in the friendly atmosphere and feel-good vibes.  Enjoy indoor or outdoor seating and remember to dress according to the weather. Cruises depart every Saturday, so grab your friends and head down to the only party you can't find on land!

Frequently asked questions about California Cruises & Boat Tours

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Other Sightseeing Options in California

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What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,330 reviews

Nice cruise around the bay. Very pleasant. Boat is big enough and open enough that no matter where you sit, you have a great view. Really cool going under the golden gate Bridge and seeing it from different angles. Highly recommend this activity.

Such a great experience and well worth booking! Team were so lovely and the boat was excellent! Definitely do this!

First time kayaking! a little intimidating, but fun activity with my hunny!

Very decent people and excellent trip. Super value too. Great fun.

It was a nice, calm cruise around the bay. Food, drinks and music.