Taking the Ferry to Sausalito
Two different ferry services connect Sausalito and San Francisco, with different boats, schedules and prices. They share the same pier in Sausalito, but their San Francisco terminals are almost 2 miles apart. We have videos and lots of reference information below.
The ferry schedules can be confusing. Our easy-to-print Sausalito Ferry Schedule is the only independent online chart covering both services. Make sure you choose the right “Weekday” or “Weekend-and-Holiday” schedule, and for the route to the Ferry Building or Fisherman’s Wharf.
We have 7 Insider Tips to get you started, and many more below:
1.There are separate lines in Sausalito for bike riders and walking passengers, so don’t get stuck at the end of the bike line if you’re walking. (Scroll down for a photo of how the signs and lines work in Sausalito.)
2. If you’re in the bike line, don’t despair! It may seem impossibly long as it snakes back from the pier and into the parking lot, but the line moves pretty rapidly once they start boarding bikes. But… see Tip 3 below.
3. Late afternoon voyages from Sausalito in summer are packed with bike riders fresh from a trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. Ferries can fill up, so arrive early to ensure you don’t have to wait for the next boat. The remainder of the year this is not an issue.
4. Even during the warmest months in Sausalito, if you want to ride on the outside decks of the Ferry to San Francisco, bring a warm jacket.
5. There is very little night-time service on the ferries, especially in winter. Miss the last ferry of the evening? We have late bus info below.
6. The two terminals in San Francisco are not that far apart unless you’re in a hurry. If you don’t want to use Uber or Lyft, it’s a beautiful half hour walk (1.4 miles / 2.25 km) between them along the Embarcadero (or a short bike ride) and antique Muni trains connect the two piers with frequent trips. This allows you to mix the two ferry services, since the perfect time for your northbound trip may be on one ferry while your return trip may better align with another. See the Ferry Piers in San Francisco section below.
7. I’ve lived in this area almost all my life, including three different Sausalito neighborhoods. No two rides on the Sausalito Ferry are ever the same, so consider traveling at different times of day etc. to see even more beautiful views.
Ferry from Sausalito to the San Francisco Ferry Building
Golden Gate Ferry: This ferry is run by the public Golden Gate Bridge District, which serves both ferry terminals in Marin County: Sausalito and Larkspur. Click here for the Sausalito Ferry Schedule linking Sausalito to the Ferry Building (located where Market St. reaches the Embarcadero in San Francisco) and we also have a page listing Sausalito Ferry Ticket Prices.
The video above shows a Golden Gate Ferry voyage from San Francisco to Sausalito.
The Golden Gate Ferry is pictured at the top of this page, and their website is here. In San Francisco, Sausalito Ferry tickets are sold from machines at the pier behind the Ferry Building (see photo below). In Sausalito they’re sold from machines located to the left (north) where the pier meets the parking lot. The ticket sales windows in San Francisco are no longer staffed, although the people at the pier are very pleasant and helpful when you ask questions.
On the Golden Gate Ferry (not Blue and Gold Ferries — see below) in Sausalito you have to buy your ticket before you board, available from the ticket machines. If you ride the Golden Gate Ferry frequently you can buy a Clipper (formerly called Translink) card that gives you big discounts on Ferry tickets! More information for Ferry commuters and frequent travelers is here. Clipper Cards are not accepted on the Blue and Gold Fleet voyages to Fisherman’s Wharf, since it is a private company. The monthly Ferry passes and Ferry ticket books that many of us grew up with have now been discontinued.
The capacity of the Sausalito Ferry is normally 715 but (unlike the morning runs in Larkspur) the commuter runs are never full and everyone gets on. The ferry can, however, fill up on summer afternoon departures from Sausalito when there are so many bikes on board that they run out of space. This is less a matter of how many people can ride on the ferry than a restriction on the bike storage space, and affects bike riders rather than regular passengers.
Above: The entry area for the Golden Gate Ferry, at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Walk through (or around) the Ferry Building and come out the back to reach this area. Ticket machines are on the left side of the building, and the Sausalito departure area is at the right side of this photo.
Ferry from Sausalito To Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 41 / Pier 39)
Blue and Gold Ferry: This ferry is run by a private company. The Sausalito Ferry Schedule for the Blue and Gold Fleet service linking Sausalito to Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 41, next to Pier 39) in San Francisco is very different from that of the Golden Gate Ferry. We have the Sausalito Ferry Schedule and the current Sausalito Ferry Ticket Prices. You can buy tickets online for the Blue and Gold ferry here. Credit cards are accepted. Blue and Gold Ferry allows you to make bike reservations in advance online.
Blue and Gold San Francisco ferry tickets are sold “at the door” as you enter the ferry on the Sausalito side, and at the Pier 39 terminal at Fisherman’s Wharf on the San Francisco side (next to Pier 41). Clipper Cards are not accepted on the Sausalito route, though some other private ferries linking San Francisco to other areas do accept them. The video above shows a Blue and Gold Fleet voyage from Sausalito to San Francisco.
Insiders Tip: If you ride during the winter, some trips from Fisherman’s Wharf on Blue and Gold Fleet (not Golden Gate Ferry) are scheduled as taking longer than others because they stop in Tiburon on their way to Sausalito, although B&G is inconsistent about mentioning this on their schedules. It’s a beautiful variation on the voyage, but takes a few minutes of extra time. In summer the voyages are separate and this does not apply. Tiburon service by Blue & Gold is being phased out in favor of the Golden Gate Ferries but no changes have been made yet.
Above: The Fisherman’s Wharf terminal for the Blue and Gold Fleet Ferries at Pier 41 in San Francisco.
Ferry Piers in San Francisco & the Muni F Line
The map below shows the Fisherman’s Wharf pier and the Ferry Building and the route between them. It’s a lovely 1.4 mile (2.25 km) walk down the Embarcadero along the shore of the Bay between the two destinations, and the Muni “F” Line trolleys offer an easy and direct connection between the two piers. The walk takes about a half hour.
If you’re exploring the City instead of rushing to a meeting this gives you the chance to experience both ferry services and their very different vessels, and to ride on the antique trolley cars as well. During most of the day the wait between F trains is between 5 and 12 minutes. The train stop at the Ferry Building is in the median island between the lanes of the Embarcadero (Spanish for “embarking point”), the main thoroughfare that runs along the shore of the Bay.
You can also catch the trains at other stops between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf if you want to walk part of the way and then ride, or vice versa. There is a stop at Pier 39, adjacent to Pier 41. Some “F” trolley cars are from Milan, Italy, and others are American classics from San Francisco and Philadelphia. They range in age from about 65 to 85 years old. I’ve been known to change plans about walking along the Embarcadero if an especially cool looking trolley comes along and I’m close to a stop so I’m able to grab it.
Amaze Your Friends with History Department: The Pier 41 site for the Blue and Gold Ferry is very close to the location of the original Sausalito-San Francisco Ferry pier, a private service that began operating in May of 1868. The cable car to carry people over the steep hill to downtown San Francisco wasn’t opened until 1888, 20 years later. On the Sausalito side the old ferry docked one long city block from today’s Sausalito pier, near what today is Yee Tock Chee Park. The original ferry was named the Princess, and was built by a company selling land for homes in Sausalito. Their home locations, logically enough, were near Princess St., which was named after the ferry that docked at the spot where Princess St. reached the Bay.
The Ferry to Sausalito: Terminal and Pier in Marin County
The Sausalito Ferry pier is located in the heart of Downtown Sausalito. There is no ferry building in Sausalito, just the pier shown on the left. It’s called the “Ferry Terminal” on maps and guides, even though there is no building.
There’s also no cover in the waiting area on the pier on a warm summer day, or on a rainy winter afternoon. You can go into the adjacent parking lot for the shelter of a few trees if you want to wait in the shade, but in the rain you may want to seek out the awnings on the adjacent street called El Portal.
Passengers who are bringing bikes line up in one line, and those who do not have bikes line up in the other, as shown in the photo below. If you don’t have a bike be sure you don’t stand in the bike line, as this will slow you down.
On all but the warmest days (and even in late summer afternoons) the wind off the Bay can be chilly when you’re waiting on the pier, yet another reason to always have a sweater or a windbreaker. In the video above you’ll see the Golden Gate Ferry come in, then the Blue and Gold Ferry moored on the right side of the pier.
Bike Parking in Sausalito
During the busiest (non-winter) months Sausalito closes Tracy Way, a 1-block-long street adjacent to the Ferry parking lot, and turns it into a large bike parking lot where you pay to leave your bike locked up in a secure area for $3.00 per bicycle. If you’re planning to stop in Downtown Sausalito or the Bridgeway Promenade this is the best place to park and lock your bike, and it’s only a few blocks from here to Caledonia St. The remainder of the year there are many bike racks scattered in the downtown area near the Ferry.
From March through October the city has Bike Ambassadors downtown who will give visitors advice and help finding the right restaurants and shops, as well as guiding them to bike parking. The bike parking fees cover the cost of this program.
Parking Your Car at the Ferry in Sausalito
You can find complete information about ferry parking in Sausalito here. Insiders Tip: El Portal St. in Sausalito is shown on most maps (including the Google map above as of this writing) as having an intersection with Tracy Way next to the Ferry pier. From March through October Tracy Way is closed and turned into a bike parking area, which makes El Portal a dead-end cul-de-sac. During these months cars can no longer reach parking spots via El Portal. Use Anchor St. to reach the closest parking lots.
Links to Transit in Sausalito and SF
Riders on the Golden Gate Ferry no longer receive free San Francisco Muni transfer passes. This benefit was discontinued in 2009. Both BART and Muni trains in San Francisco serve the Embarcadero Station, which is across the street from the Ferry Building and service to Sausalito. As you exit the Ferry Building onto the Embarcadero cross the street in the broad crosswalks and walk straight up Market St. (the broad boulevard leading straight from the Ferry Building into the city) and you’ll see the underground station entrances. Many San Francisco Muni bus routes also stop at the Ferry Building or at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pier 39 – Pier 41 area. MUNI gives a 50-cent discount to people transferring from the Ferry. For connecting to bus service in Sausalito, our complete guide to Sausalito bus stops and bus routes is here. A map showing the bus stops near the Ferry pier is here.
Late Night Service on the Sausalito Ferry
Miss the last ferry of the evening? Golden Gate Transit buses serve the transit center at Mission and 1st St. in San Francisco, about five blocks from the Ferry Building. Route 30 runs later routes from Bridgeway (opposite the Ferry Pier at El Portal St.). Buses also run from SF to Sausalito from multiple locations until after midnight. Be sure to check whether the bus you plan to use stops in downtown Sausalito or on Spencer Ave. at the top of the hill, since the District periodically changes routes. In 2016 the old Route 70 was moved up the hill to the Spencer Bus Pad on Highway 101, while Route 30 was created to serve downtown Sausalito.
Bicycles on the Sausalito Ferry
You can bring bikes on the ferries, though on summer and Holiday afternoons the lines can be long. You can even rent a bike in San Francisco, ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, and then take the bike on the ferry to go back. Our page about this popular round trip visit is here.
Dogs and Other Pets on the Sausalito Ferry
Dog owners with larger breeds must use the Blue and Gold Fleet ferries.
Golden Gate Ferry: Small animals are permitted if they are kept in hand-carried pet carriers. For larger dogs, only assistance animals, service animals and service animals in training are allowed on the Golden Gate Ferries.
Blue and Gold Fleet Sausalito Ferries: Animals are allowed but must be enclosed in a carrier or kept on a leash, and animal owners assume all responsibility (read “legal liability”) for the animal’s actions.
The Sausalito Ferry Boats
Although the two services have different kinds of boats, each of the ferries offers both interior seating and the chance to sit outside on the deck. Golden Gate ferries on the Sausalito run have three decks, with the top rear deck partially covered with glass. Powerful directional heaters mean you can still have the outdoor view on a chilly day.
Blue and Gold Fleet often uses catamaran ferries to serve Sausalito, although occasionally you’ll see standard hull boats. The dual-hulled catamarans are more stable and comfortable on days when the wind kicks up whitecaps on the Bay. They have two decks available to passengers. Bathrooms are the same on the boats as you’d find in a terminal. Power plugs are scattered around for use with your laptop, and are more numerous on the Golden Gate Ferry boats since they are heavily used by commuters.
Insiders Tip: All the Golden Gate ferries have outside decks on the bow where you can sit and have a clear view in front of the boat. The speed of the boats make these seats windy and the cool air off the Bay produces a wind chill effect, so if you plan to go out on the bow for more than just a few photos a good jacket is necessary on all but the warmest summer days. Decks at the stern also offer great views and have lower wind chill effects.
Sausalito to Tiburon Ferry, Sausalito to Angel Island Ferry
There are a small number of sailings of the Blue and Gold ferries each day that connect Sausalito with Tiburon and Angel Island, often just sailing from San Francisco or just sailing from Sausalito, not both ways.
Insiders Tip: Be sure to tell the person who sells you your Blue & Gold ticket what routes you plan to take, to make sure you get to the right place, and to make sure you’re not stranded there if the route does not run again that day.
Alcatraz Ferry, Vallejo Ferry and Oakland-Alameda Ferry
There is no direct ferry service between Sausalito and these locations. Our complete guide to all San Francisco Bay ferries will give you the information you need to take these routes. The Park Service is discussing a one-way link from Alcatraz to Sausalito, but it’s unclear if this will happen.
The secret: There is almost no published service from Tiburon to Sausalito because it is only offered on some Blue and Gold Fleet sailings during parts of the year. You can call Blue and Gold Fleet to see if it’s an option during your trip. This service is being phased out and replaced with Golden Gate Ferry service after 2016.