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By Karen

Updated August 22, 2023.

The Rocket Boat

Sun, Speed and Rock and Roll!

Ready for a wild ride on San Francisco Bay?

Note: the current Rocket Boat was retired in 2019, and they were planning on introducing a "new and improved" version in the spring of 2020.

Alas, we are still (2023) awaiting its return!

But a good substitute is available now:

The Bay Adventurer! Highly rated. Another speed boat, an inflatable one in this case, zooms around the bay for 90 minutes.

They even provide rain gear, because it does get wet.

Bay Adventure Boat in San Francisco BayThe Adventure Boat out on the Bay

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The route goes past Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Captain narrates a tour of the passing sights.

It's called an RIB, or "rigid inflatable boat".

Check it out at The Bay Adventurer tour.

It leaves from the left side of Pier 39, so you can see the sea lions as you're coming and going.

    5 star rating

  • 90 minute ride
  • Past Alcatraz, the sea lions, & Coit Tower
  • Go under the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Lots of fun!

I haven't been on the new one, but I've seen it out on the bay and it looks like a lot of fun!

There's a limit of 12 people and it sails every day except in winter.

It's a wild and wet ride, so it's not recommended for pregnant travelers, those with back or heart problems or kids under 4.

RIB Bay Adventure Boat at Pier 39The Bay Adventure Boat at Pier 39

When to Go: the Bay Adventure Boat

The Bay Adventure Boat runs May through October (unless the weather is "inclement", whatever that means, probably raining or rough seas). Fortunately, there is hardly ever rain during those months.

The months of September and October are usually the sunniest months, with May, June and July foggier.

There are several trips each day, and the boats run daily. 

Check availability and booking.

When is the best time to visit San Francisco? Here's my guide on when to visit the City.

Here's the original ride...

The original Rocket Boat was a 30 minute ride.

Here's what it was like. Probably similar to the current Bay Adventure boat, but shorter.

rocket boat in san francisco The Rocket Boat at Pier 39

Leaving from Fisherman's Wharf, next to Pier 39, is one of the most exhilarating adventures on the wharf.

The Rocket Boat takes a group of voyagers for a fast speed boat ride out onto SF Bay, under the Bay Bridge, and zooms past the city skyline and Oracle Park.

There are warnings about riding with back and neck problems, but I thought it was milder than a typical roller coaster.

There were a couple of good jolts as the boat hit a few big waves, but overall it was just speed, wind and sun for a wonderful 30 minutes.

Rocket boat seating in San FranciscoThe Rocket Boat at Pier 39

The combination of classic rock and roll, incredible views, wind in your hair, and flying across the water at 60 mph, truly lifts the spirits. Looking around at my fellow passengers, I saw lots of big grins. What a rush!

I've seen this boat at Fisherman's Wharf for years, and finally ventured out on it. I had a great time and would highly recommend it.

It's not only a fun ride, but you get a tour of SF Bay: past the sea lions, Alcatraz (from a distance), right underneath the Bay Bridge, Oracle Park, and close-up views of the city skyline from the north and east vantage points.

Rocket boat leaving Fisherman's WharfThe Rocket Boat heading out

At one point, the speed boat races towards the Ferry Building at full speed, then swerves away.

Lots of spins and tilts, crossing of the ship's wake, and the chance to see the huge container ships passing by from the Oakland docks towards the sea.

Check rates and available dates and times for the Bay Adventure Boat.

There are lots of really fun boat tours on San Francisco Bay!

Here's my list of the ones that I would pick as the best SF Bay cruises.

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