If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Texas is delicious barbecue--well, you'd be right!
But if a dream escape for boaters doesn't also spring to mind, it may just be because you haven't been to the Bay Area yet. This spot--nestled at the union of Houston, Galveston, and several smaller Gulf-facing cities--is rightly known as the "Boating Capital of Texas," a spot where the allure of the open water meshes brilliantly with the hustle and bustle of Texas' largest metro area.
From Galveston Bay to Clear Lake and everywhere in between, we're taking a look at the best boating spots in the area.
Seabrook Texas, overlooks the blue bounty that is Clear Lake.
For many Texas boaters, Clear Lake serves as a sort of passage to the sea. It's the first lake of its size that boaters will encounter on their way east, and flows into the larger Galveston Bay and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico.
Of course, Clear Lake is more than just a passageway--it's a bona fide destination in its own right. Patches of the lake's shore include recreation zones like Clear Lake Park (where you can kick back or leave your overnight gear for camping under the stars), and, on the west end, Nassau Bay Peninsula Wildlife Park, a great spot for fishing or playing fetch with your four-legged friend.
East of Clear Lake sits Trinity Bay, the northeast section of Galveston Bay itself. Here you will find an even more back-to-nature experience, with marshlands and green expanses dotting the bay's shores. Being connected to the ocean means that Trinity Bay can experience high salinity, especially during dry periods, but fishing remains a popular sport year-round (especially for more adaptable species like flounders and redfish).
Finally, the "main attraction" of Texas' Bay Area boating. Like its northernmost portion, Trinity Bay, the rest of Galveston Bay is similarly spread out--so you have plenty of shoreline stops to enjoy. A great choice is, of course, to boat over to the not-so-remote island of Galveston, your "last stop" before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. While the island is home to a thriving downtown area, it's not without its share of natural treasures, too, such as Galveston Island State Park. This is a top destination for boaters and beachgoers--if you're bringing your Chaparral, you can even pack a kayak or canoe on board to use once you get to the shallow, marshy waterways of the island, before exploring the deeper (and seemingly never-ending) waters of the Gulf.
Which of these Bay Area boating excursions is your favorite? While Texas' reputation may be overshadowed by great food or ideas of rodeo and cowboy culture, we can't help but think that this boating enclave is one of the state's best hidden gems.