Sausalito is one of the top destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area, on the list with destinations like the East Bay (Oakland and Berkeley), Muir Woods, Angel Island, and the iconic Alcatraz prison island. If you’re exploring these different areas, you might wonder – is there an easy way to get from Sausalito to Alcatraz?
Below, you’ll find all the info you need to plan a trip between these two must-visit Bay Area destinations, assuming you’re starting in Sausalito – maybe as part of a day trip or longer stay in our lovely waterfront town. As you’ll discover, there are a few ways to visit Alcatraz from Sausalito, but you’ll need to make one important stop on the way.
Ready to learn everything you need to know about visiting America’s most famous prison from one of the country’s most picturesque communities? Read on for a complete guide to Alcatraz ferries, traveling from Sausalito, and more.
Can You Travel From Sausalito to Alcatraz?
When travelers plan to visit Alcatraz from Sausalito, many don’t know that, despite the closeness between these locations, there’s no direct connection between the island and the charming seaside town.
There are no tour operators nor direct ferries from Sausalito to Alcatraz or vice versa, and the only way to reach Alcatraz Island is from San Francisco. So, whether you book a tour or go on your own, you’ll always have to depart from SF.
Since we’re clearing doubts, it’s also worth mentioning that, unlike other tourist destinations in the Bay Area, there’s only one company providing ferry services to Alcatraz: Alcatraz City Cruises. Their ferry departs from Pier 33 on Fisherman’s Wharf, but I’ll be expanding on that later.
How to Get from Sausalito to Alcatraz (via SF)
The absence of direct ferries from Sausalito to Alcatraz shouldn’t deter you from visiting the island. You just have to add an extra stop in San Francisco. Below you’ll find the steps you need to follow to finally visit the infamous prison.
Ferry, Bus, or Car to San Francisco
Sausalito and San Francisco are well-connected by different means of transportation. Visitors can reach SF by car, bus, and ferry.
If you have a car, the drive time is only 30 minutes, depending on the traffic conditions. Buses are another reliable alternative. The bus ride takes around 30 to 40 minutes and tickets cost $8 – be sure to check out the Golden Gate Transit zone and fare map to stay current on prices.
Another easy (and fun) way to reach San Francisco from Sausalito is by ferry. There are two companies providing regular services between the two cities. You can check out this post where I explain how the Sausalito ferry works.
Alcatraz City Cruises to Alcatraz
Once you’ve made it to San Francisco, head to Fisherman’s Wharf. As I said before, Alcatraz City Cruises is the only company that provides ferry services and tours for Alcatraz Island.
Their services sail from the Pier 33 Alcatraz terminal along The Embarcadero. It’s near the intersection of Bay Street – just a bit southeast of Fisherman’s Wharf. As a heads up, there’s no parking at Pier 33, so you’ll have to find somewhere else to park if you came by car.
Note: you’ll find numerous operators offering packages from Sausalito to Alcatraz. These packages are usually multi-destination cruises. So the Alcatraz segment means either two things: you’ll be able to walk on the island or your cruise circles the island. Remember that the only company with the right to provide access to Alcatraz and the prison is Alcatraz City Cruises. If you see other operators selling tickets with Alcatraz as a single destination it’s probably a scam.
Alcatraz Tour Options
Alcatraz City Cruises provides five tours to experience the island in different ways. Below you’ll find a short description of each, so you can choose the one that suits you best.
Alcatraz Day Tour
The Alcatraz Day Tour takes 2.5 hours and tickets start at $25. The tour gives access to the Alcatraz Cellhouse, the new permanent exhibit “The Big Lockup: Mass Incarceration in the United States,” the outdoor historic spaces such as Eagle Plaza, the Recreation Yard, the Sallyport, and the Rose Garden, and access to the New Industries Building.
Alcatraz Night Tour
Starting at $48, the night tour offers a more intimate experience. Besides the audio tour, visitors will enjoy sunset views from the prison, and on-board narration about the Island’s history and residents, plus optional activities such as cell door demonstrations, short talks, and special exhibits.
Alcatraz Behind The Scene Tour
The Behind The Scene Tour is a 90-minute adventure starting at $90. This tour is limited to a maximum of only 30 guests and gives access to areas that are off-limits to the general public. Visitors can explore the Island on their own and engage in optional activities. The Behind The Scene Tour also lets visitors extend their stay and join the Night Tour. This is an excellent alternative if you’re planning a full-day trip to Alcatraz.
Bay Discovery Cruise
As the name suggests, this 90-minute cruise will take you to discover all the San Francisco icons. Visitors will admire the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Sausalito, The Marin Headlands, and Fort Point/PresidioGhirardelli Square. The cruise includes an audio tour so visitors can immerse themselves in the history of the Bay Area while sightseeing. Tickets start at $25.
Official San Francisco Downtown Experience
Starting at $110, the Official San Francisco Downtown Experience is a combination of SF’s highlights. The tour includes a Chinatown walking tour, a Big Bus Classic One Day Ticket, and an Alcatraz City Cruises round-trip ferry service to Alcatraz Island. It’s the perfect alternative if you’d like to make the most of your stay in San Francisco.
Have any other questions about how to go from Sausalito to Alcatraz – via San Francisco and the ferry cruise? Let me know in the comments below!