Sensational beach views, fabulous marshland hikes and terrific fishing opportunities are just some of the many reasons to come to Galveston Island State Park.
Situated less than 30 minutes from Galveston and just over an hour and 15 minutes drive from Houston, this park enjoys a rich legacy of being a barrier island between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Littered with shipwrecks throughout the 1500s, the area was also renowned for pirates in the 1800s. Today it sits right in the pathway of many storms, but don’t let this stop you from visiting it when the weather is nice, for there is plenty to see and do here.
The likes of swimming, paddling, fishing, hiking, picnicking and birding are all popular activities in the park, especially in the summertime.
There are also plenty of accommodation options for RVs, trailers and tent campers who want to stay at this TX state park over the course of a few nights.
The park provides visitors with many different ways to enjoy a range of outdoor recreational activities.
Here are some more details about what you can do whilst you are there.
Paddling at Galveston Island State Park
Given that the breakwater keeps the inland waters very stoic, many visitors take the opportunity to paddle whilst at the park.
Whether you choose to do it via canoe, kayak or SUP, there are three main paddling trails for you to explore – Jenkins Bayou, Dana Cove and Oak Bayou.
These trails vary in length from 2.8 miles to 4.2 miles and differ in terms of difficulty. Unfortunately the park does not offer rentals, so you will have to bring your own watercraft with you.
Beach and Swimming at Galveston Island State Park
Looking out to the Gulf of Mexico, the park offers a terrific beach for swimming, particularly on a hot summer’s day.
However, as the area is not patrolled by lifeguards you will have to enter the water at your own risk.
If you do, watch out for rips, especially the further out you go, and keep an eye out for jellyfish too, who enjoy the warm water.
Fishing at Galveston Island State Park
Fishing at the beach is a very popular activity, with the best saltwater spots being found at Oak Bayou, Jenkins Bayou, the Butterlowe Bayou boardwalk and Como Lake.
Wherever you decide to cast a line, you should be able to hook plenty of redfish, flounder and speckled trout.
Hiking and Biking at Galveston Island State Park
If you are into hiking and biking the park offers four miles of trails to explore.
Covering a range of habitats that include salt flats, wetlands and beach areas, they range from 0.4 miles to 1.4 miles in length.
There is little in the way of shade at the park, so wear a hat, appropriate footwear and take plenty of water with you.
Also be aware that if there has been heavy recent rain, the trails could be quite muddy, and therefore more difficult to traverse.
Picnicking at Galveston Island State Park
Given the stunning views of the water you can take in at the park, many visitors choose to enjoy a picnic during their time here.
Close to the beach parking area, you will find a charming picnic space which is perfect for al fresco dining.
As there isn’t much shade around, it’s a good idea for you to bring an umbrella with you to the park. However, if you don’t have one, you might want to head over to the picnic shelter at the parking area of Oak Bayou, which does have some shade protection from the sun.
Birding at Galveston Island State Park
The park’s varying topography attracts many different species of birds. Some of them live there all year round.
As a result birding is a very popular activity here, with budding ornithologists coming from all over Texas and the surrounding states for the chance to check out several different breeds.
Make sure you bring your binoculars with you to the park, because depending on what time of the year you are there, you should be able to see the likes of Great Blue Herons, Northern Harriers, Black-necked Stilt and Sooty Tern, among several different species.
Pets at Galveston Island State Park
Pets are welcome at the park, although some restrictions do apply.
To determine what they are, it is worth contacting the park’s main office for further clarification.
Camping at Galveston Island State Park
Within the park you will find several overnight camping options available between two campgrounds.
At the Beach Side campground there are 62 sites for RVs and trailers available that come with hookups for 50-amp electricity and water – 5 of which are ADA accessible.
These sites all come with picnic tables and a fire ring, and are located near restrooms.
In addition to these, the beachside area has 10 tent platforms, one of which is an ADA site, as well as 15 tent campsites.
Again these are located near restrooms, and come with their own picnic tables and fire rings. They also have water but not electricity.
Over at the Bay Side campground, there are 20 sites that come with 30-amp or 50-amp hookups for electricity and water, as well as 10 sites that just come with a water hookup.
The electric sites come with picnic tables, while the water sites also come with a shade shelter, lantern post and fire ring with grill. Both are located near toilets.
There are also 10 dry camping sites for trailers, motorhomes and tents that have no shade or hookups. Though these do come with a picnic table and fire ring, and also have water nearby.
Galveston Island State Park
Galveston, TX 77554
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Galveston Island State Park: