Alcatraz Island

Sitting in San Francisco Bay, a little more than a mile off the coast of downtown San Francisco, is Alcatraz Island. The Island is home to the famous (infamous) former federal penitentiary that once housed the likes of the mobster Al Capone. Alcatraz, which closed in 1963, was a maximum security prison, surrounded by shark-infested waters (not an exaggeration). No one who escaped the island was ever confirmed alive.

The island is now under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. It is accessible by boat, operated by Alcatraz Cruises, which departs from San Francisco’s Pier 33. Alcatraz Cruises is the ONLY way to actually set foot on the island. There are several other cruise companies that will take you around the island, but will not dock.

Make sure to book your tickets ahead of time - sometimes several days or even weeks in advance. Tickets can be booked through the National Park Service’s Alcatraz website: https://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm.

Tours of the island are self paced and include an audio device to listen to former inmate’s stories. There are also NPS Rangers and former inmates scattered around the property to answer any questions you might have.

The tour, including transit time to and from Pier 33, lasts approximately three hours. I suggest booking a night tour. The night tour is usually harder to schedule and lasts about an hour longer. It too includes the self paced audio tour, then allows for approximately two hours of self guided wandering around the grounds after the sun goes down. The night tour is slightly creepy, but there are enough other people wandering the grounds that you are never truly alone in any room, if you’re worried about that. I highly recommend it.

 
Alcatraz Cruises is the only sanctioned tour operator that docks at Alcatraz Island. There are several other operators that will bring you around the island, but won’t dock

Alcatraz Cruises is the only sanctioned tour operator that docks at Alcatraz Island. There are several other operators that will bring you around the island, but won’t dock

The transit time from Pier 33 to Alcatraz is approximately 20 minutes

The transit time from Pier 33 to Alcatraz is approximately 20 minutes

The boats have an open upper deck, that offer excellent views of Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco

The boats have an open upper deck, that offer excellent views of Alcatraz and downtown San Francisco

Downtown San Francisco in the distance behind Alcatraz Island

Downtown San Francisco in the distance behind Alcatraz Island

One of the main buildings on Alcatraz as you exit the ferry

One of the main buildings on Alcatraz as you exit the ferry

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated from 1934 to 1963

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary operated from 1934 to 1963

Visitors have the chance to tour several of the cells

Visitors have the chance to tour several of the cells

The fog rolling in off the bay as the sun sets

The fog rolling in off the bay as the sun sets

Only one mile of shark-infested waters separate separate Alcatraz Island with downtown San Francisco

Only one mile of shark-infested waters separate separate Alcatraz Island with downtown San Francisco

A medical operating room during the night tour

A medical operating room during the night tour

One of the infirmary rooms at Alcatraz during the night tour

One of the infirmary rooms at Alcatraz during the night tour

Alcatraz Island is creepy during the day. It is even worse at night

Alcatraz Island is creepy during the day. It is even worse at night

The main building lit up after the night tour of Alcatraz Island

The main building lit up after the night tour of Alcatraz Island

 

Delta Flight Museum

Delta One / 767-300ER (76L) / São Paulo (GRU)-New York (JFK)