Details and reservation information for many fishing boats based around the Bay Area can be found at www.sportfishing.com. Information for the Lovely Martha, named SF Weekly's Best Fishing last year, is at www.lovelymartha.com.
For those not quite up for the full-bore experience of a crack-of-dawn deep-sea fishing excursion, San Francisco has plenty of more laid-back ferry tours to choose from. The classic voyage ventures out from the Fisherman's Wharf area, doubles back under the Golden Gate Bridge, then circumnavigates Alcatraz, but there are plenty of other options. For example, there's a two-hour sunset cruise replete with appetizers and live guitar music, relaxing twilight cruises for more glittering skyline views, and the self-explanatory Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise. Ferry day trips to other points around the bay such as Sausalito, Tiburon and Angel Island are always a great escape option.
One of the coolest ferry jaunts of all is the upcoming Fourth of July Fireworks Cruise. This 2.5-hour boat ride parks itself on the Bay, providing an unobstructed view of the apocalyptic lightshow overhead. Check out www.redandwhite.com for reservations, especially recommended for the explosion extravaganza. You can also visit blueandgoldfleet.com for an extensive selection of sightseeing and commuter ferries. And plenty of fishing boats and entrepreneurs along the wharf are eager to take people out on the Bay for cheap.
Rocket Sled to Drenchtown
If tooling around the bay on a slow boat to nowhere doesn't sound particularly thrilling, perhaps Rocketboat is more your speed. Running seasonally from May through October, this jet craft on steroids careens around the bay while blasting a classic rock soundtrack, soaking many passengers in the process. Great views, some sightseeing points of interest, and 20 minutes of high-speed nautical roller-coaster action make for something way more fun than you'd expect from a floating tourist trap. If you want to get drenched, sit in the back. (www.rocketboatsf.com).
It has been suggested that one of the better ways to view America's Cup races would be ensconced in a sea kayak — within security parameters, of course. But nothing's stopping you from going down to Pier 40 right now and renting one from City Kayak. Sculling about McCovey Cove is always a low-key option, and especially fun during a Giants game. Who knows, you might even snag a splash hit. And a kayak is another great vantage point from which to view Independence Day fireworks. (www.citykayak.com)
Whale of a good time
One aquatic marvel most locals never get around to seeing is the Farallon Islands National Marine Sanctuary, 27 miles due west of San Francisco. This one-of-a-kind ecosystem is teeming with wildlife and an excellent place to spot migrating blue, gray, and humpback whales. Visiting this marine life haven is one of those bucket-list experiences that even the most jaded native should do at least once. For $89 or less, you can spend several hours on the open ocean, seeing some stunning vistas and maybe a whale or three. Most trips leave at 8 a.m.; check out sanfranciscowhaletours.com for current schedules and details.