San Francisco, CA

The Forgotten Island in San Francisco that Used to Be a Restaurant and Now It's Gone

Diana Rus

Forbes Island was a restaurant, located between Pier 39 and Pier 41 in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.

It was the Bay Area's only "floating island" restaurant.

Millionaire houseboat designer Forbes Thor Kiddoo built the "island" on the San Francisco Bay in Sausalito as his own dwelling in 1975. The restaurant design was inspired by Captain Nemo's marine dwelling. For years, Forbes Island was a palm-tree-topped landmark in the center of the bay. 

In 2017 the floating restaurant closed and was moved to its current location at Holland Riverside Marina in Brentwood. Now, Forbes Island is a floating island near Holland Tract, California.
Forbes IslandPhoto byForbes Island/Wikipedia

Forbes Island

On December 23, 1980, a houseboat anchored in Richardson Bay, close to Sausalito in Marin County, California, became Forbes Island.

It was built between 1975 and 1980 by Forbes Thor Kiddoo, who invested $800,000 in the floating home. He used old vessel portholes, seascape paintings, and a lathe to attach the wooden paneling and pillars. 

The property included 15 rooms, three staterooms, a 600 square foot salon with wood elements, mirrors, brass, Persian rugs, a fireplace, a chess table, grand piano and English pipe organ, and a wine cellar.

By the late 1980s, locals in Sausalito complained about the property being illegally moored.

According to Islands Magazine, Kiddoo wanted to sell the houseboat in 1987. Still, it wasn't until 1991 that the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission made him leave Sausalito because of building regulations.
Forbes IslandPhoto byForbes Island/Wikipedia Commons

The floating restaurant

Following his eviction, Kiddoo attempted to anchor his barge in Half Moon Bay but was refused. He anchored it in Antioch, California, for five years and spent time renovating it before obtaining a 15-year renewable lease in San Francisco.

In 1999, the island-dwelling was moved and reopened as the Forbes Island restaurant between Pier 39 and Pier 41 in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. It was the Bay Area's only "floating island" restaurant, measuring 50 by 100 feet and weighing 700 tons, with its own palm trees, waterfall, fake fireplace, 55-step lighthouse with Fresnel lens, and Tahitian dining room.

The underwater dining area was made to seem like the inside of an early 19th-century sailing ship. The restaurant featured its own wine cellar, which was once used for a Tony Bennett performance, as well as a women's boudoir. 


Repair and renovation work was done on the Island in 2016. To start a two-month rehabilitation, a fireboat from the San Francisco Fire Department moved the island to Pier 70's BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair Yard on April 5. Afterward, it was brought back to its original spot next to Pier 39, where it was supposed to reopen on June 15.

Forbes Kiddoo retired and the Forbes Island Restaurant closed in August 2017.

The restaurant was reported to be for sale and unlikely to reopen as a restaurant in March 2018 when it was moored at the Holland Riverside Marina in Brentwood, California, east of Contra Costa County, far from its original position.
Forbes Island in 2021, off of Holland TractPhoto byForbes Island/Wikipedia


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My name is Diana Rus, and I'm a Romanian content writer with a passion for exploring the world and sharing my experiences with others. I studied Marketing at University and have a master's degree in Marketing Research. My true passion lies in writing, and in my articles, I share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics, including interesting places from the US and around the world, history, and important events.


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