Being a lover of the seashore and all things beach-related, I take every opportunity to dig my toes in the sand and soak up the salt and sun. We try to make a trip to the beach at least once a year if possible. I even play the sounds of waves on my computer at work for background noise. It’s better than music sometimes. For a good portion of my life, the highlight of my summers was a trip to Florida, usually to Daytona Beach, for a family vacation. I have also visited beaches in Alabama, South Carolina, California, and southern England. I know people who drive 24 hours from Texas just to spend a couple of weeks on the beach in Daytona, passing by numerous other locations along the Gulf to get there. They say that Texas beaches are dirty and run-down. They claim there’s no entertainment. Specifically, they are talking about Galveston Island.
This summer, my wife and I were invited to spend a week at Galveston Island with some close family who live in Kansas. We don’t get to see them very often and really enjoy spending time with them. The plan involved them driving down to the Gulf in a couple of vehicles, loaded down with everything we could possibly need for a week at the beach. We flew into Houston, rented a car, and made the short trip down to meet them at a large, rambling house on the beach we had all rented for the week. I was expecting to be underwhelmed when we got there; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find Galveston’s beaches full of life with plenty of attractions. There are water parks, an impressive amusement park on a huge pier, gardens, theaters, historic areas, some good restaurants, and more. The beaches are clean, the waves are better than the Florida Gulf, and the house was perfect for our group of ten people, which included two children under the age of three!
The house was separated from the beach by a lawn and a some grassy dunes, but the sand was easily accessible by a raised, wooden walkway. There was plenty of beach area to set up a permanent tent canopy for relief from the mid-day sun. The porch looking out to the ocean extended the entire width of the house. There was a large kitchen/eating area, numerous bedrooms, three bathrooms, two televisions on either end of the house set far enough apart to avoid any bleed-over effect. It was such a relaxing place that was well maintained and nicely furnished. We had a wonderful time with people we love in a setting that was just perfect.
Before heading back to Houston to the airport, we drove around the more developed area of the beach. The hotels and condos looked very nice. Most were probably built after Hurricane Ike devastated the area in 2008. There are even a few resorts on the far east section of the island and what looks like a residential community development that is just getting started. The old downtown section of Galveston is full of character typical of a port town. There are even a few structures that predate the huge storm of 1900, America’s worst-recorded hurricane disaster, that brought a massive surge across the island killing at least 8,000 people. Now there is a substantial sea wall that serves as the foundation for the major highway that runs along the beach, which helps protect the town from surges. The highway separates the hotels from the beach, but it is a necessary barrier in case of storms. For those who still think Galveston is not such a great destination, I suspect they are thinking of an older Galveston that doesn’t exist anymore. The place has reinvented itself, and it is definitely worth considering. Galveston is too far away from us for regular beach trips, but if this opportunity came open again, I would definitely want to go back.