Ayala Cove is named for Spanish naval lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala. In 1775, Ayala’s ship, the San Carlos, sailed through the Golden Gate charting the way for a large Spanish settlement. The bay had remained hidden to ships along the Pacific Coast for centuries–when sailing west of the Gate in the Pacific it looks like a continuous shoreline without the bridge as the main locator. Because the Golden Gate remained invisible, Spanish explorers finally sited San Francisco Baby on a land expedition. Astounded, they wrote to their commanders that they had discovered an immense harbor. Ayala landed on Angel Island on the Catholic Feast of Our Lady of Angels–for that reason he called the island Angel Island. Almost one hundred years later in 1892, Ayala Cove was known as Hospital Cove serving as a Quarantine station for hundreds of ships pouring into San Francisco from around the world after the Gold Rush. Public Health authorities would board and inspect the ships. If it was determined that any so called “tropical diseases” were present the crew and passengers had to stay in the cove until the incubation period ran it’s course. As public health measures improved, quarantine detention became obsolete and the station finally closed in 1952. Conservationist Caroline Livermore began immediately working to get the Federal Government to gift the seven acres to California as a state park. This finally happened in 1963 one year after the Army officially left the island. Today when you arrive by ferry to Angel Island State Park you disembark in Ayala Cove where you will find the Cove Cafe, Cantina, Visitors Center and public and group day use picnic sites. The public lawn directly in front of the Visitors Center is a wonderful area to relax and look out over the harbor toward Tiburon.