San Francisco Bay’s largest island is the home of Angel Island State Park and is entered by visitors via Ayala Cove who are transported there by ferries from San Francisco, Tiburon and Oakland or their own boats. After arriving they will find the main entrance to the park where the Visitor’s Center, the rangers’ cabin with maps and park information, a gift shop, and café and oyster bar are located in the cove on the north side of the Island. The maps of the island include bicycle and hiking trails and the location of all the other sites on the island.
On Angel Island there are numerous scenic and historic sites for visitors to enjoy including The Quarantine Station in Ayala Cove, Mt. Livermore Trails, Camp Reynolds, Fort McDowell and many gorgeous beaches. Many couples use the charming wedding chapel located at Fort McDowell or numerous outdoor locations on Angel Island which provide settings that are unique and romantic to exchange their marriage vows. The outdoor locations can accommodate from 35 to 1000 people for any type of event. Also provided by the Angel Island Tram Tours and Catered Events are exquisite catered food for the wedding receptions and other celebrations. The Tram Tours provide several extensive tours of the historic buildings spread out around the island and they also schedule the nature walks. These attractions must be reserved ahead of time by calling (415) 897-0715 or at Ayala Cove.
One of the main attractions on Angel Island is the mooring slips and buoys at Ayala Cove available for rent to private boats. The prices are very reasonable from $10-30 per night. These cannot be reserved and are available overnight on a first-come, first-serve basis. The dock slips can accommodate boats up to 50 feet in length. There are various types of sports available on Angel Island such as volleyball, baseball, and fishing. Avid photographers will have scores of opportunities to snap photos of the many stunning scenic views, wildflowers, historic buildings, and the white sandy beaches. Picnicking is popular at the islands many grassy picturesque locations around the island which provide tables and charcoal barbecues.
The nine camp sites on Angel Island are not modern and campers must plan on carrying their camping equipment uphill to the sites. These camp sites are scattered around the island and provide running water and pit toilets. Since wood fires are not permitted on the island campers should bring their own stove or charcoal to use in the barbecue. For the campers and other visitors there are over thirteen miles of trails for hiking along with biking trails. It is possible for bikers to be transported to the island via ferry or bikes are available for rental during the months from April to October and a few holidays during the year.
Campers and visitors to Angel Island should be aware that the only dogs allowed are service animals and roller blades and skateboards are not allowed. For security reasons travel is not permitted after dark on specified portions of the island. Visitors to Angel Island should also be conscious of the differences in the islands weather, it can be sunny on one side and cold and overcast on the other but the weather is generally warmer than San Francisco. It should be noted that the tour guides attire is usually long pants and sweaters or jackets so it might be a good thing to follow their lead because you can always take a jacket off if it gets too hot.
Angel Island has a long history beginning in 1775 when the naval service of the King of Spain arrived in San Francisco and anchored their small boat carrying only 30 men in Ayala Cove. After 40 years of occupation by Spain the island and cove were abandoned until 1850 when the United States took possession of the island. Fort Reynolds and other military facilities were established on the island. The first hospital was built and the cove was commonly called Hospital Cove during that period but was changed to Ayala Cove in 1969. The Quarantine Station was established due to the immigrants thought to be carrying many diseases. The first steamship to be quarantined on Angel Island was the China where smallpox was detected. Over the years the use of this facility was unnecessary as the growth in medicine evolved.
Angel Island is located in the San Francisco Bay and is just one mile south of the Tiburon Peninsula. The park is accessed by the Ayala Cove on the north side of the island and is open year round from 8AM until sunset. There is no admission charge but there are charges for camping, boat slips, tours, and other activities. Ferries bring visitors to the island from San Francisco, Tiburon, and Oakland. The Angel Island State Park Office can be accessed for information by calling (415)435-5390.