During my visit to Angel Island, I was quite surprised how this unassumingly quiet island in the San Francisco Bay has quite a lot to offer even the day visitor. But no one would know unless you go to the island and see it for yourself and try it. Here are the things you can do in Angel Island.
Take the trolley tour – this is probably the easiest thing to do in Angel Island. The trolley tour allows you to see the whole island and it’s the easiest way to do it. You will normally be with other visitors in the trolley and its free courtesy of the California State Park system managing the island.
Touring the historic buildings – it’s one thing to take the trolley, around the island but it’s another thing to tour the historic buildings you’ll see on the way. If you want to tour the historic buildings, you’ll need to make prior arrangement. Note: not all historic buildings are open to the public. Some of it are occupied by employees working in the island.
Picnic at Ayala Cove – You can bring food to picnic at Angel Island and the most popular spot to picnic is at Ayala Cove. There are several picnic table and barbeque grills in this part of the island. But there are other picnic areas in the island where you can picnic and enjoy the great views of San Francisco at the same time. If you a planning a large party, it is best to reserve a table or section of Ayala Cove.
Bike around the island – you can bring your bicycle or rent one on the island to get around. There are paved roads around the island where you can bike and reach viewpoints for panoramic views of the city. It is also the best way to bring food in the picnic areas at viewpoints.
Hike around the island – There are many who prefer to explore the island on foot. This is certainly an activity where you can explore the island at your own pace. If you’re new to the island, be sure to get a map prior to hiking. Give yourself a lot of time if you want to hike the entire island.
Kayaking around the island – Rent a kayak at a tent at Ayala Cove to see the island from the water. This will definitely give you a different perspective. You can start kayaking from Ayala Cove and go from there. Some would even hire a guide to go with them.
Camping on the island – During my visit, I saw several backpackers in the early afternoon ready to head out camping in the island. Just like any campsite, it is best to make reservations in advance.
After reviewing some of these activities, I noticed that Angel Island is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. More than 90% of the island looks like a wilderness but its natural beauty is preserved not just for the visitors but for the wildlife that still inhabits the island. In my humble opinion, an island like Angel Island presents a warmer introduction and entrance into the United States is better than the concrete jungle that is Ellis Island.