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Angel Island State Park is one of the San Francisco Bay Area's best-kept secrets. Attracting mostly residents and children on school trips, the park offers quiet beaches, recreational activities, historic attractions and unparalleled views of the entire San Francisco Bay. watchTourists often miss out on this attraction because of its nearby sister island, popular Alcatraz, with its infamous penitentiary. Encompassing nearly 740 acres (299 ha), Angel Island is the largest island in the San Francisco Bay. It is also an ideal place to escape to and indulge in various outdoor activities. With its hilly, forested land and bayside beaches, Angel Island is a scenic destination that offers 360º views of the bay with a unique picture of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Long before Spanish explorer, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala, anchored his ship at Angel Island, Miwok American Indians inhabited the area. The Miwoks lived in several areas around the island, actively using its many resources to live. Fishing, hunting and using various plants well fulfilled their diet. Lt. Ayala arrived in 1775 and named the island Isla de Los Angeles, Spanish for Island of the Angels. It was his task to create a useful sketch of the San Francisco Bay Area so that future explorers could have a map of the region. After his arrival, the island experienced various military activities extending from the Civil War era's Camp Reynolds to Fort McDowell and the Cold War's Nike Installation. Breitling In 1892, an area of the island was used as a Public Health Service Quarantine Station, where foreigners and hopeful immigrants assumed to be diseased could be kept in isolation. Then in 1905, the controversial Immigration Station was erected at China Cove. The station's purpose was to control Chinese entry into the United States, but mainly served as a detention center. Interest to turn Angel Island into a state park began in 1947 after the government announced the island was surplus property. In 1954, 37 acres (15 ha) around Ayala Cove became state park property. The entire island finally became a park in 1962 when the army left the Nike Missile Base.
Ayala Cove 2
The San Francisco Bay Area's weather can change suddenly and without notice. This is due to the area's elevation and coastal location. These conditions are much the same on Angel Island. It is thus advisable to always dress for the unexpected when visiting the island, even if current conditions look promising. Weather can be hot and sunny one moment then chilly and foggy the next. Also, different areas of the island can experience very distinct weather conditions at the same moment. Ayala Cove, located on the north side of the island, typically sees the warmer and sunnier temperatures. Ideally, the best time to visit Angel Island is in the late summer or fall when fog is minimal. Heavy fogs usually occur between June to mid-August. Summers are generally warm with temperatures averaging about 65º F (18º C), while during the winter, temperatures are cooler with most of the area's precipitation falling during this time. April to October is usually the driest time of the year.
Angel Island sits in the middle of San Francisco Bay, 1 mile (2 km) south of the Tiburon Peninsula and about 19 mi (31 km) north of San Francisco. It can be reached by three public ferry services or private boat. The Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry is a private, family-owned service that has been in operation since 1959. The ferry offers public transportation services, as well as special charters and cruises. Ferry service departs from Tiburon and is available year round, seven days a week, except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The Alameda Oakland Ferry departs for Angel Island from San Francisco's Pier 41, also known as Fisherman's Wharf. Service is limited to weekends, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. The ferry returns to Alameda and Oakland on the departing trip from the island.
The Alameda Oakland Ferry service to Angel Island does not operate during the winter months. The largest ferry provider in the Bay Area is the Blue & Gold Fleet. The ferry service departs from San Francisco's Pier 41 and from Alameda and Oakland. San Francisco to Angel Island service is available weekdays and weekends while Alameda Oakland to Angel Island service is only available on weekends. All ferry service fares are round trip and include the Angel Island State Park admission fee. Docking is available at Ayala Cove for those arriving by private boat. However, space is limited and is at a first-come first-serve basis. Both boat slips and mooring buoys are available. Slips are open year-round until sunset and mooring buoys are available for overnight stays.