It’s one of the United States’ most popular cities, and a gem on the California coast. It was my second visit to San Francisco, so I wanted to go sightseeing in California it in style.

First time around was somewhat rushed and I only had a day or two to run around and see the sights. I knew I needed to plan something big, a sightseeing tour with a difference – I’m talking about a seaplane tour in San Francisco!

I’ve been doing my research into spectacular ways to see the city. It became obvious that if there’s one way to see the incredible sights in San Francisco it was from the air.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Downtown San Francisco, Oakland and the entire Bay Area simply have to be seen from the air. So I decided to book my tour for New Year’s Day. Want to know more? Here’s a full guide of my experience.

Booking the Seaplane Tour

I’ve personally booked my seaplane tour in San Francisco with Klook.

Klook is a sightseeing, tour and activity booking company that offers a simple way to discover things to do when you travel.

Once the decision had been made, I checked the price and availability, a few taps later on the App I had paid and my confirmation followed shortly after. It took minutes.

Download the Klook App: Google Play / iTunes

If you’re not familiar with Klook, you’ll find other options after my review here below, so make sure to stick around.

My Review of the Seaplane Tour San Francisco

I’ve been on some tiny planes over the years, but never on a seaplane. I mean, it takes off and lands, on water!! I feel like that’s something seen in the movies. So inevitably, this is pretty exciting. There were certainly a few nerves right before take-off.

Once we had signed the waiver it was time to head over to the plane, a DHC-2 Beaver, to meet our pilot Fred. He helped us to our seats, 6 in total; 5 passengers and the pilot.

Sometimes travelling alone has it’s perks, as being the odd one out meant I got the co-pilot spot, right up front. You might think I’m joking, but I genuinely had all the controls Fred had. Let’s hope I don’t have to use them!

Our tour started around 3:30pm, which I picked for 2 reasons. Firstly as it was New Year’s Day I didn’t fancy an early start that morning! And secondly, I knew there was a strong chance the light and fog would look just right. I recommend you choose the same, they even have a sunset Champagne Tour, if you want to get romantic!

All day the weather didn’t look that great. I wasn’t hopeful it would clear in time, with “Karl the Fog” (as the fog is affectionately named locally) making a big appearance. On the previous days we had bright blue skies, which whilst being a little boring, would mean we would see everything. Then it did clear, enough that we had breaks in the cloud, but not enough for sun. To be honest, this was almost perfect.

Having a mixture of clouds and low lying fog over Downtown and covering the land was absolutely stunning. Don’t write off your flight due to the ever-changing San Francisco weather. It’s unpredictable to say the least.

Once we were airborne it’s only from above you realise how many stunning bridges there are in the Bay Area. OK the Golden Gate Bridge is the show-stopper with all the fantastic history, but the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Richmond Bridge would be show-stoppers anywhere else. Fred would talk us through the history and facts of pretty much every landmark, with impressive detail whilst keeping the plane in the right spot.

Our pilot Fred carefully swooped past Pt. Bonita Lighthouse, Alcatraz and Angel Island. Giving a really interesting insight and history behind each place. I wasn’t expecting that.

I thought we’d see the sights and he’d point them out, but he had endless knowledge and answered all of our questions. We even passed Downtown lower than usual, due to the low-lying fog. It was a beautiful sight, there’s no better way to see San Francisco than this.

And then there was the landing. I forgot to mention how smooth take-off was. Well, landing was even smoother. As we flew past the millionaire mansions of Belvedere, we gently glided onto the calm waters of Richardson Bay. It was the smoothest plane landing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been on a lot of flights. What an experience.

Alternative San Francisco Seaplane Tours

The California sightseeing tour I reviewed here above is only one activity available, but there are many more you may want to consider, with different durations, and I cover the best ones here below.

1-Hour Norcal Coastal Tour

Get ready to soar on this seaplane tour, a 60-minute aerial extravaganza! Kick off from Sausalito, gliding over Marin county and cruising above Tomales Bay, where the legendary Sir Francis Drake once explored.

Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales as you whisk by Point Reyes National Seashore and its iconic lighthouse. Coast along the stunning Northern California shores and Highway 1, before looping back over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

You’ll fly past San Francisco’s hotspots like Crissy Field, AT&T Park, and Alcatraz. While this is a more expensive trip, it will easily be the highlight of your trip in San Francisco!

45-Minute Greater Bay Area Seaplane Tour

Another seaplane trip in San Francisco is this 45-minute one that’s nothing short of epic. Lift off from Sausalito and head right over the stunning Golden Gate National Reserve.

See the amazing coast and spots like Stinson Beach and Muir Woods from up high. You’ll also fly over the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Then, you zoom over downtown San Francisco and AT&T Park.

Don’t forget to look out for Alcatraz and Angel Island before heading back to Sausalito. You can also get a ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to join – it’s going to be awesome!

30-Minute Golden Gate Bridge Seaplane Tour

Get ready for an exciting flight over San Francisco. Despite being only 30-minute long, it’s going to be one for the books. You take off from the water and fly right over the city.

You’ll fly around the Golden Gate Bridge, over Fisherman’s Wharf, Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the pretty towns of Tiburon, Belvedere, and Sausalito.

You’ll finish with a cool landing on the water in Sausalito. All in all, it’s one of the best seaplane tours in San Francisco!

Where to Stay in San Francisco

Here’s a list of great places to stay in San Francisco to make your trip unforgettable:

Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco

The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, a short walk from Union Square, blends luxury with convenience. It features dining options, a fitness center, and rooms with flat-screen TVs and Italian marble baths.

Enjoy 24/7 in-room dining, exclusive Club Level amenities, and The Lounge’s single malt scotch. Nearby attractions include Chinatown and North Beach. Can you think of a better place to stay?

Mid-Range: Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf

Hotel Riu Plaza Fisherman’s Wharf, near Pier 39, offers a family-friendly, smoke-free environment with an outdoor pool. Rooms feature 49-inch TVs and deluxe bedding.

Amenities include an outdoor fire pit, concierge service, free lobby WiFi, a business center, and dining options like American buffet breakfasts and a bar.

Budget: Amsterdam Hostel

Amsterdam Hostel is an affordable and clean option in San Francisco, close to Union Square and Chinatown, provides a central San Francisco experience. It offers organized activities, a theater for free movies, and nightlife outings.

The hostel is near The Masonic and Haight Ashbury District, with easy access to iconic venues like The Fillmore, making it ideal for adventurous travelers.

Conclusion – Seaplane Tour San Francisco

In conclusion, the Seaplane Tour in San Francisco is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique perspective on the city’s stunning landscapes and iconic landmarks.

Whether you’re soaring over the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, going past the historical Alcatraz Island, or taking in the scenic beauty of the Bay Area’s coastline, each moment in the air is filled with excitement.

Have you ever been on a seaplane? Or even a tiny plane? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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