The San Francisco Bay area is all about the city and the ocean. From picturesque landscape to chilling winds, from the iconic golden gate bridge to the Fisherman’s Wharf. From beaches offering unique views of the bridge to inclined streets all around; this city has a lot of fun things, worth exploring. But, after spending almost every weekend in the city for a year, our travel taste buds demanded something more. Though our transition from east coast to the west, with a brief stint at San Diego, sandwiched between the two was exciting, we wanted to explore something else beyond the city and its streets. Hence, we welcomed the desire to explore two islands in the Bay.
An exceptionally infamously famous Alcatraz Island and a fancy fun spot Treasure Island made their way into our travel list. As the dear husband and I set on an adventure to explore these pieces of land near SF, we were looking forward to viewing the city skyline from a distance. After admiring the beauty of the city from an up, close and personal view, it was time to wave at them from the waves! Each of these two islands is close to the SF city, offering a good break from the usual landscape. With mesmerizing natural beauty, loads of greenery and calmness of an island, both these spots offered their unique stock of fun.
While Alcatraz Island has a rich history from the good, old times, it was known for holding prisoners within its secluded, yet powerful ambiance. On the other hand, Treasure Island was more of a modern-day fun spot with its entertaining flea markets. From food trucks to antique items, vintage collection to some trendy clothes, this shopping affair was unique.
The prison experience – Alcatraz Island
As we set on our adventure to be behind the bars on a sunny Saturday in summer, this trip to the Alcatraz was just amazing. We expected it to be just a usual tour with some pieces of historical information, but our entire experience was way beyond it. When a ferry whisked us to this island within 15 minutes from the pier at SF, we were truly mesmerized by the view all around. Though the waves and the ocean are usual sights from the city, the magic of sailing over them is different than watching them from a distance. With the company of several enthusiastic tourists as we admired the island, our cameras were busy with lots to capture. Picturesque landscape undoubtedly steals the show, as the Pacific Ocean is truly good at its game.
On reaching the island, we were pulled into some magical world with so much to know, observe and admire. Away from the usual rush and responsibilities, this island succeeds in taking you off to another zone. As if nothing else mattered, I was walking through history. Though the Alcatraz Island is famous for its prison, there is more to this place than just cells and punishments. It is home to various exotic plants and birds. The terrace gardens offer a peek into the botanical treasure, filled with memories and stories.
The exploration mode:
Self-guided audio walking tour around the prison is the most fantastic activity on this island. As the host guided us to the various prison cells, canteens, isolated cells, cultural events and some famous prison-break stories, the experience is different from what we expected. It was fun to walk through history and run our imagination into the past. Though our legs seemed to do the maximum job, it was more work for the eyes and brain, while processing all the information.
Alcatraz Island tickled our imagination. Something so close to the city could be considered secluded and challenging for the prisoners. As we admired the city from far, we realized that such proximity teases those on the island. ‘So near, yet so far’ is the ideal way to describe this. The challenging cold waves of the Pacific are just impossible, even for the ace swimmers.
The shopping spree – Treasure Island
After exploring a historical island, our next adventure was entirely different. Around five miles from SF city, this Treasure Island is famous for holding wonderful fun activities. Unlike the ferry ride to Alcatraz, commute to this spot involved a usual car ride. But again, just as any spot in the water that takes you away from the busy streets and usual landscape; Treasure Island did welcome us to a far-away destination, filled with peace.
Soaking the fun
As we walked around the stalls and exhibits, it was fun to shop in a different setup, unlike usual malls and stores. The experience of shopping fun stuff coupled with natural ambiance, view of the waves and cool breeze of the ocean was just perfect. And it only got more amazing, when we were greeted by a long line of food trucks! Delicious hot food from various spots around the city served on an island; it could not be any better. From the range of cuisines – American, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean to tasty treats- ice-creams, sodas, fries, snacks, this place had everything for the taste buds.
No wonder this island is frequently visited by tourists and local folks all year round for their uniquely themed festivals. True to its name, the island comes across as a treasure, worth exploring.
After our day-long adventures in these two islands, we enjoyed the feel of being away from the city, yet close to it. Both of these places took us into the ocean while offering their unique content. As we explore more areas in our travel list; I hope to create many memories, frame novel stories and capture them all through the lens of our journey. After all, life is measured, not by the number of years we live, but by the experiences we collect along the path.
A freelance writer bitten by the travel bug, Lavanya (pen name) loves to explore the outdoors. Writing about her experiences through blogs and articles, she looks forward to staying connected with her readers. When away from her laptop or travel adventures, she enjoys cooking, reading, watching movies or simply day-dreaming!