Guide to the Tiburon Ferries
Tiburon ferry service can seem confusing, with two piers and three different destinations on San Francisco Bay.
As it turns out, the system is actually logical and easy to understand once someone shares the basics with you. Which is exactly what we’re here to do! We’ve published the most popular guide to the Sausalito ferries for years, and have now extended these reference pages to cover Tiburon.
Here are our top Insider Tips to get you started:
1. Angel Island State Park in San Francisco Bay is near Tiburon, and there is no bridge between the mainland and Angel Island. Ferries link the pier on Angel Island to a dedicated Angel Island Tiburon Ferry Co. Pier in Tiburon, a service that began in 1959.
A separate ferry service, Blue and Gold Fleet, also connects the pier on Angel Island with Pier 39 / Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. When people refer to “the Angel Island Ferry,” they may be referring to either the Tiburon-Angel Island route or the San Francisco-Angel Island route. But only the Tiburon-Angel Island route is operated by “The Angel Island Tiburon Ferry Company!”
2. Ferry service between San Francisco and Tiburon is shared by two services, Golden Gate Ferry (a public service managed by the Bridge District) and Blue and Gold Fleet, which is a private company. Both services use the same pier in Tiburon.
Golden Gate Ferry offers weekday service that links the Tiburon Ferry pier with The Ferry Building in San Francisco, and it’s used by both commuters and visitors. Blue and Gold Fleet offers weekday and weekend service between the Tiburon Ferry pier and Pier 39 / Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, primarily to visitors.
This ferry link between Tiburon and San Francisco dates back to 1884, but service has not been continuous and different companies have come and gone.
3. The two ferry piers in Tiburon are side by side, but they are managed by different companies.
The Angel Island Ferry pier offers service to Angel Island and is reached most directly from Main St. in Tiburon via a passageway next to The Water’s Edge Hotel. (You can also walk along the boardwalk in front of Guaymas restaurant to get here.) It’s the pier to the right as you look towards San Francisco Bay.
The Tiburon Ferry pier, with service to two separate piers in San Francisco, is reached most directly by walking along the edge of the building that houses Guaymas Restaurant on Tiburon Boulevard at its intersection with Main St. in Tiburon. (You can also take the passageway that leads to the Angel Island Ferry pier and then continue down the boardwalk until you’re behind Guaymas.) It’s the pier to the left as you look towards San Francisco Bay.
4. Some maps label one or both Tiburon piers as a “Tiburon Ferry Terminal” or “Tiburon Ferry Landing.” These piers certainly are where you land when you step off the ferry in Tiburon, but there are no terminal buildings here, just docks tucked behind the restaurants and shops on the eastern side of Main St. in downtown Tiburon.
5. Even during the warmest months of the year in Tiburon, if you want to ride on the outside decks of the Ferry to San Francisco, bring a warm jacket. The ferry to Angel Island often has similar cool temperatures, but its route does not cross the opening of the Golden Gate and on hot summer days Angel Island is warmer than the area near the Golden Gate Bridge.
6. There are no evening or nighttime sailings to or from Angel Island. There is very little night-time service on the ferries from San Francisco to Tiburon, especially in winter.
7. 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 to go from the Ferry Building to Pier 39 & 41 at Fisherman’s Wharf. it’s a beautiful half hour walk (1.4 miles / 2.25 km) between them along the Embarcadero (or a short bike ride). Antique Muni trains connect the two piers with frequent trips.
8. I’ve lived in this area for almost all of my life, including Belvedere-Tiburon, central Marin and three different Sausalito neighborhoods. No two rides on the ferries are ever the same, so consider traveling at different times of day and during different seasons of the year to see even more beautiful views.
The Tiburon Ferry to the Ferry Building in San Francisco
This ferry is run by the public Golden Gate Bridge District, which serves the ferry terminals in Marin County (Tiburon, Sausalito and Larkspur) from its base at The Ferry Building, located where Market St. reaches the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Their website is here.
Insiders Tip: On the Golden Gate Ferry (not Blue and Gold Ferries — see below) you have to buy your ticket before you board. They do not sell tickets “at the door.”
Clipper Cards are the easiest way to travel on most public Bay Area ferries, trains and buses, and are well worth acquiring if you live here or will be here for any length of time.
Clipper Cards are accepted on all Golden Gate Ferries, but not on private ferries like those of Blue and Gold Fleet and Angel Island Tiburon Ferry Co. The monthly Ferry passes and Ferry ticket books that many of us grew up with have now been discontinued.
Insiders Tip: There are no Golden Gate Ferry ticket machines at the pier in Tiburon. If you don’t have a Clipper Card you can buy tickets online (see link below), or at the machines at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
In San Francisco, Tiburon Ferry tickets are sold from machines at the pier behind the Ferry Building (see photo below). 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.
ONLINE TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR GOLDEN GATE FERRIES TO AND FROM TIBURON. You can buy Golden Gate Ferry tickets online here. Online Golden Gate Ferry tickets are good on any Golden Gate Ferry sailing between the Ferry Building and Tiburon, and are not accepted on the private Blue and Gold service to Fisherman’s Wharf. The Golden Gate Ferry tickets are good for 90 days from the date you buy them, but there are no refunds or exchanges for unused or unwanted tickets.
Insiders Tip: The online ferry tickets work just like the downloadable tickets you may use on your phone at the airport.
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.
This ferry is run by Blue and Gold Fleet, a private company that offers a variety of ferry and tour routes on San Francisco Bay. You can buy tickets online for the Blue and Gold ferry here. Credit cards are accepted. Blue and Gold Ferry also allows you to make bike reservations in advance online. These tickets are good only on Blue and Gold Fleet ferries and are not accepted on Golden Gate Ferries or on the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry Co. ferry to Angel Island. Clipper Cards are not accepted.
Above: The Fisherman’s Wharf terminal for the Blue and Gold Fleet Ferries at Pier 41 in San Francisco.
The Angel Island Ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island
Angel Island Ferry tickets are sold only as round trip tickets. You buy them at the door of the ferry as you board, and they take only cash as payment. They do not take credit cards or Clipper Cards. There are ATM’s at various locations in downtown Tiburon if needed.
Ferry Piers in San Francisco & the Muni F Line
The map below shows the Fisherman’s Wharf pier and the Ferry Building and the Muni F Line light rail route between them. During most of the day the wait between F trains is between 5 and 12 minutes. The train stops in this area are in the median island of the Embarcadero (Spanish for “embarking point”), the main thoroughfare that runs along the shore of the Bay.
The Tiburon Ferry Piers and Ferry Parking
We have dedicated pages with maps and links for each of the two ferry piers in Tiburon:
Links to Transit in Sausalito and SF
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. Many San Francisco Muni bus routes also stop at the Ferry Building or at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pier 39 – Pier 41 area.
What You Can Bring on the Tiburon 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 on to Tiburon, and then take the bike on the ferry to go back. Our page about this popular round trip visit is here.
Dog owners have these choices:
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.
Alameda Ferry, Vallejo Ferry and Oakland-Alameda Ferry
There is no direct ferry service between Angel Island or Tiburon and these locations. Our complete guide to all San Francisco Bay ferries will give you the information you need to take these routes.
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