Treasure Island (San Francisco)

In my latest Photo Location Guide post on San Francisco, I shared with you my tactic on how to photograph a high number of amazing locations in the Bay Area when you are very short on time.

Photo Location Guide: A Hidden Treasure in Plain Sight (San Francisco)

In today’s post, I have a different tactic to share for when you are visiting San Francisco. This approach is based on returning to the same location again and again, and getting amazing results.

I came up with this idea when I was visiting the Bay Area, staying in Oakland instead of the usual Silicon Valley locations. My plan was to spend as much time as possible in San Francisco by driving across the Bay Bridge between my engagements in Berkeley.

Treasure Island (San Francisco) 1
California. San Francisco. Treasure Island
Loc: 37.813378, -122.371074

One morning, on my first bridge crossing, I decided to take the exit to Treasure Island since I had never been there before. I was completely overwhelmed by the views of San Francisco and the Bay from the island. Because of my time constraints, I spent 20 or 30 minutes there at most, but I was very happy with the results. I was able to take a bunch of potentially interesting photos.

On my way back to East Bay I had more time to spare, so I stopped at Treasure Island with the goal to explore it further. I drove around, and then walked along the west shore of the island to become more familiar with the location.

Travel Photography Blog: California. San Francisco. Treasure Island
California. San Francisco. Alcatraz Island
Loc: 37.813378, -122.371074

I could see the following travel photography opportunities:

  • Downtown San Francisco, with all the famous landmarks in plain sight
  • View of Telegraph Hill
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Alcatraz in close proximity
  • View of the Bay Bridge
  • If you wait long enough you will see enormous ocean ships passing between you and the city, which looks very surreal.

As you can see, the list is pretty amazing since you can capture everything from the very same spot.

As you might know, the weather changes constantly in the Bay Area. You never know what to expect in the next thirty minutes, which means the opportunities for photos change as well. As you can multiply a list of photography opportunities by the number of times the weather changes, the list becomes unreal.

From that day Treasure Island has become my most visited location when I am in the Bay Area. I have a habit that every time I cross the Bay Bridge, no matter which direction, I always stop at Treasure Island, even if only for five minutes. There is always something interesting to photograph.

Another small tip

The Bay Bridge is a toll bridge, which means you have to pay to cross it, but you only pay when crossing toward San Francisco. This allows you to cross the portion of the Bay Bridge from SF to Treasure Island and back without paying the toll. What I do sometimes when I’m near the Bay Bridge and I see the change in weather condition might result in interesting photography, I just drive across to Treasure Island take few pictures, then I am back in the city fifteen minutes later.

Travel Photography Blog: California. San Francisco. Treasure Island
California. San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge
Loc: 37.813378, -122.371074
Travel Photography Blog: California. San Francisco. Treasure Island , Telegraph Hill
California. San Francisco. Telegraph Hill
Loc: 37.813378, -122.371074
Travel Photography Blog: California. San Francisco. Treasure Island's Old Pier
California. San Francisco. Treasure Island’s Old Pier
Loc: 37.813378, -122.371074
by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

2 thoughts on “Treasure Island (San Francisco)”

  1. I drove to Treasure Island back in Feb 2019 but found tall cyclone fences interfering with the view to San Francisco. Do you know if those fences are still up? When they might be removed? Thanks.

    • I have not been there for 18 months probably, so I would not know. But even the Google Maps street view shows the ugly fencing 🙁


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