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Must-Do's for Nature Lovers

Updated 458 days ago

Artist Boat Kayak Adventures
2627 Avenue O
409-770-0772

Artist Boat is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and preservation of coastal areas and the marine environment through the disciplines of the sciences and the arts. To fulfill this mission, Artist Boat works with marine scientists and artists to develop the environmental literacy needed for individuals to promote the preservation of fragile ecosystems, and to reflect on the immense beauty and diversity of marine life.

Artist Boat’s mission is accomplished through interactions with coastal peoples, hands-on experiences for participants, public art collaborations, symposia and workshops, and partnerships designed to promote creative projects.

Hop on a kayak to discover the wonders of Galveston Island and Galveston Bay. Paddling destinations include Galveston Island State Park, Armand Bayou, East Beach Lagoon, Christmas Bay, Drum Bay, and other locations throughout Galveston Bay. It’s perfect for families and groups, and private group trips are also available. Guides are trained ACA kayak/canoe instructors and are trained in first aid and CPR.

Admission
$50 per person, includes equipment rental
$25 per person, without equipment rental
Hours of Operation
Monday thru Saturday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Galveston Island State Park
14901 FM 3005
409-737-1222

Galveston Island State Park was named one of the “Top 5 Best Gulf Coast Beaches” by Travel Channel in 2013. The park offers a quiet oasis on the island's West End where visitors can explore the Gulf of Mexico or Galveston Bay. Families can enjoy kayak tours, beach and surf explorations, bird walks, nature field trips and fishing clinics at no cost. Many activities require advance sign-up. The park also offers beach camping.

The park contains a mosaic of coastal habitats that host a surprising variety of wildlife and are visited by birds from throughout the eastern hemisphere during the spring and fall migration seasons. Wading and shore birds, mottled and mallard ducks, raccoons, armadillos and marsh rabbits are found in the park, which is ideal for wildlife observation and photography.

There’s also beach or surf fishing for spotted sea trout, sand trout, redfish, black drum, croaker and flounder is also popular. The park features 2,000 acres of upper Gulf Coast barrier island ecosystem.

Because barrier islands serve as transition zones between land and ocean, they support a variety of distinct eco regions, including beaches, prairies and wetlands. Each supports a diverse array of life. The beaches also protect the mainland from storms, while the lagoons, bay and salt marshes serve crucial functions in the life cycles of many ocean species.

Galveston Island State Park is in the city of Galveston on the west end of Galveston Island. It is a 2,013.1-acre site that was acquired in 1969 from private owners under the State Parks Bond Program and was opened in 1975. The park can be reached from Interstate 45 by exiting right onto 61st Street and traveling south on 61st Street to its intersection with Seawall Boulevard, and then right (west) on Seawall (FM 3005) and travel 10 miles to the park entrance.

Admission
Adults: $5
Kids 12 years & younger: Free
Hours of Operation
Open 7 days a week year-round, except for hurricane watch/warnings.
Busy Season: March through October, especially weekends.

Baywatch Dolphin Tours
2100 Harborside Drive
832-859-4557

Located at Pier 21 near the historical Strand District in Downtown Galveston, Baywatch Dolphin Tours is a family-owned-and-operated business in Texas that has served the island since 2005. The boat has a covered and heated interior, and has no propellers, so no marine life is ever harmed. You'll enjoy a close-up of dolphins in their natural habitat.

The Baywatch ticket booth is located directly in front of Harbor House hotel at 21st Street and Harborside. The boat departs and returns on Pier 21 behind Willie G's.

Admission:
Adults: $10
Children (12 & under): $5
Infants & pets ride free

Galveston Island Horse & Pony Rides
1923 Boddeker Drive
409-256-0663

Galveston Island Horse & Pony Rides was founded by a longtime Galvestonian native who has brought to fruition his three great passions: horses, the Gulf Coast, and public service. This union of passions has blossomed into a public horseback riding experience along a beautiful Texas beach that only Galveston Island can offer.

The owners of GIHPR have carefully selected and trained their horses to provide you with an enjoyable ride along the Texas beachfront that you can mark off of your bucket list. The staff is comprised of experienced, professional, and kind-hearted horsemen that love horse, and will share that passion with you.  Call for wedding and party services.

Prices
• $15: Horseback photos
• $25:10-minute pony ride
• $50: 3- minute guided beach ride
• $70:1- hour guided beach ride
• $100:1-hour private sunset ride 

Hours of Operation (May thru September)
Wednesday thru Sunday: 10am - 6:30pm

Galveston Harbor Tours
2200 Harborside Dr.
Texas Seaport Museum
409-765-8687
Hop aboard the Seagull II,  the Texas Seaport Museum's 50-foot twin-engine motor vessel, to see Galveston Harbor up close. She’s stable and sheltered and was built specifically for harbor sight-seeing excursions and education.

The boat is U.S. Coast Guard certified and her operators are fully licensed and knowledgeable about the history and lore of her home waters.

Don't miss this chance to get a new perspective on Galveston Bay and the historic Port of Galveston. Knowledgeably narrated tours explore the wide variety of birds and marine life that teem in the Bay. Playful dolphins almost always show up to entertain themselves by watching the red-and-white boat and its passengers.

Seagull II offers soft drinks and bottled water for sale, and has a comfortable main deck, sheltered from sun and rain. An open upper deck affords a full panorama of water and sky.

Purchase tickets at the Texas Seaport Museum Gift Shop at Pier 22, next to Fisherman's Wharf restaurant. Call on the day of the tour to confirm availability. Reservations are not required for groups of less than 20.

Admission:
Adults: $10
Students, ages 6 through 18: $8
Children 5 and under: Free.

Hours of Operation

Summer:
Harbour Tours depart at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 5:15 p.m.

Winter:
Departures at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.

Sea Turtle Tours
4700 Avenue U
409-766-3500

Since 1978, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has been participating in an international Sea Turtle recovery program. Currently the NMFS Galveston Sea Turtle Facility is participating in the following:

Captive Rearing Program: The objective of the loggerhead captive rearing program is to produce turtles of similar size classes encountered as by-catch in commercial fisheries. NOAA NMFS Galveston acquires 200 loggerhead hatchlings annually from Florida. The facility is able to produce large numbers of equally sized, healthy animals which leads to robust statistical analyses in scientific experiments.

The Galveston Sea Turtle Facility is the only facility of its size and class in the world. The rare availability of captive reared turtles supports NOAA mission research on fishery interactions, ecology, toxicology, disease, tracking, sensory biology, physiology and behavior in cooperation university research partners.
Gear Research Program

The objective of the gear research program is to develop, evaluate and refine fishing gear modifications to promote sea turtle conservation while retaining a sustainable fisheries catch. Some of the projects include the Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Certification Project; Turtle Excluder Device (TED) Trials with Satellite Tagged Turtles; Tests of Bait Modifications to Reduce Sea Turtles Hooked In Longline Fisheries; and Modification of Fishing Gear Incorporating Shark Characteristics.

Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Program: The objective of the stranding and salvage program is to document sea turtle strandings on the upper Texas coast, collect sea turtle carcasses and necropsy them to recover sick and injured sea turtles for rehabilitation, and to foster cooperation and coordination among state and federal agencies participating in the Sea Turtle Salvage and Stranding Network (STSSN).

Galveston Turtle Tours: To schedule a turtle tour, call 409-766-3500. The tours are very popular and fill up quickly. Because of this, we suggest you plan to make your desired reservation three to four months in advance. For safety reasons, there is an age restriction. Children must be at least 6 years old, with no exceptions.

Hours of Operation
Tours are held every Thursday (excluding Federal holidays) by advance appointment only, and are free to the public.

Moody Gardens
1 Hope Blvd.
800-582-4673

Nature abounds at Galveston’s Moody Gardens through its many and varied attractions, which include:

  • Aquarium Pyramid: Experience life as you explore the ocean’s depths in the South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. Dive into the oceans of the world in a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium teeming with creatures from tuxedo-clad penguins to seals, stingrays, sharks and more
  • Rainforest Pyramid: Check out animal life from the rainforests of Asia,, Africa and The Americas. Enjoy a rare, up-close and interactive experience with endangered plants and animals ranging from Giant Amazon River Otters to Saki Monkeys and Chinese Alligators.
  • 4D Special FX Theater: Experience life and engage all of your senses with through 3D projection, audio and show control systems along with wind, seat sensors, leg ticklers, scent, misters and snow put you in the action.
  • Colonel Paddlewheel Boat: Live the high life on an hour-long cruise aboard a replica of a 1800s paddlewheel boat. Dinner and private cruises are available for groups of 65 or more, weather permitting.

Admission:
A one-day pass is $59.95, and a two-day pass is $79.95. Includes admission into Aquarium Pyramid, Rainforest Pyramid, MG 3D Theater, 4D Special FX Theater, Ridefilm Theater, Discovery Museum, Colonel Paddlewheel Boat, Palm Beach (seasonal) & Festival of Lights (seasonal) for one day (one entry) or two consecutive days (unlimited).

Hours of Operation
Hours of operation vary by attraction. Last ticket sales are 1 hour before close.

Bucket Brigade
2627 Avenue O
409-770-0722

In Galveston, digging in the sand isn't just for building sand castles. Thanks to The Bucket Brigade program, sponsored by Artist Boat and the Galveston Park Board, the beach can be an exciting classroom where participants can learn about the important relationship between the coastal ecosystem and the people who visit it.

“In Galveston, the beach’s ecosystem is teeming with life,” said Artist Boat Executive Director Karla Klay. “We believe that the more the public knows about how humans are connected to the marine environment, the more likely it is they will become good stewards of it.”

The Bucket Brigade tours are offered during weekends now through May. The 45-minute tours are held at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. They are offered at a variety of locations along Galveston beaches including Stewart Beach, 21st Street, 37th Street, 53rd Street, 61st Street, 63rd Street, and Dellanera Dunes RV Park.

For more information visit http://www.artistboat.org/bucket-brigade.html or call 409-770-0722.

East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve
Location: Boddeker Drive and East Beach

The East End Lagoon (EEL) Nature Park and Preserve  is a project of the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council. The pristine area encompasses almost 700 acres of diverse habitat on the barrier island's east end.The vision for the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve is to provide a natural experience for both residents and visitors.  It’s at the east end of Seawall Blvd along Boddeker Dr. adjacent to Apffel Park (East Beach).

Currently, the East End Lagoon Nature Park and Preserve is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for fishing, crabbing, kayaking, hiking, birding, photography and other activities. Future plans will provide enhanced opportunities for recreation while keeping the site available for everyone. 

Activities enjoyed at East End Lagoon include fishing and crabbing, birding and bird watching, nature photography, hiking and kayaking.

The site serves as a habitat for other animals such as a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

For more information, download the Great Birding In and Around Galveston Island brochure at http://www.galveston.com/uploads/files/birdingchecklist.pdf.


 
Article written by Robert Stanton - Isle Guy