If you’re looking for a beach town in Texas where you won’t have to fight the traffic to get to the beach, check out Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula! A small town vibe welcomes you, just minutes from Galveston on the FREE Bolivar ferry, with enough local flavor to remind you this is real Texas. While our favorite thing to do is just set up a shade and enjoy a day on the beach, swimming, building sand castles and skimboarding on the very flat sand and nice waves, there’s much more to do in this fun coastal town! Here’s 20 of our favorites!
1. Ride the Bolivar Ferry The FREE ferry from Galveston to Bolivar is a great way to spot dolphins playing in the bay! Park your car and just walk on for a quick ride! Here’s a great tip, plan your ferry trip around non-peak times if you’re driving, when waits are less. A sign gives you approximate wait times. During peak times, it can be quite a wait if you’re driving!
2. Spend an evening at Stingaree Worth the drive from Galveston, it’s our favorite restaurant for miles! Watch for dolphins in the ship’s wake as they pass by, and it’s always fun to see the catches that the boats bring in! Stingaree’s offers some of the best sunsets on Bolivar! Don’t pass up the Stingarita, either!
3. Yearly Beach Parking Permit If you’re parking on the beach, in either a car, truck or golf cart, it will need to have a Beach Parking Permit. It’s good for a year and expires Dec. 31st. If you rent a golf cart, it should come with a permit. It’s $10 and you can purchase at most of the stores and the Chamber of Commerce.
4. Point Bolivar Lighthouse The 1872 Bolivar Point Lighthouse is one of the first things to welcome you off the ferry from Galveston Island! One of only two steel lighthouses on the Gulf, it was decommissioned in 1933, and later auctioned off. While you can’t visit the Point Bolivar Lighthouse, because it is privately owned and no longer functional, you can find it and take a few pictures from a distance.
5. Latitude 29.2 Surf Shop This fun surf shop has a huge selection of t-shirts and beach apparel, beach toys as well as coastal decor!
6. Visit Fort Travis Seaside Park Visit this FREE Galveston County park on the Western tip of the Bolivar Peninsula, just down from the Galveston Island Ferry, to see the remains of the batteries used to protect the Galveston harbor during the Texas Revolution in 1836, the Civil War (referred to as Camp Green at that time), and during WW II. The park is open year round, and offers water access for fishing, picnic tables and open spaces to fly a kite. You can also often spot dolphins here.
7. Fun Spot Waterslide So, this isn’t Schlitterbahn, but it is a fun, simple way to cool off on a hot summer day! We love it!
8. Rent a Beach House While you won’t find a lot of hotels and resorts on Bolivar, there are tons of beautiful beach houses, and more affordable than on other places along the Texas coast! Check VRBO for many, many listings!
9. Play on the Beach Really, playing on the beach is just my favorite! A good breeze keeps you cool(ish), but so do cold drinks! Bring a little grill, come chairs for hanging out in the water or on the sand, some shade and music! Even on the busiest weekends you can usually spread out from the other beach-goers, and of course, you can drive right up to the water, and unless you get too close to the dunes (which you never should) almost any car can drive out here! Please no glass and Please bring a trash bag and clean up what you bring!
10. Beachcombing Beachcombers on Crystal Beach are often rewarded by finding shells, shark teeth and occasionally arrowheads that have flowed down the rivers. The finds gets better if you head East.
11. Fishing We love the fishing on Bolivar, both in the surf and off the North Jetty. Wear good shoes on the jettys, because it’s broken in places. Kids will love crabbing along the jettys and in the little tide pools!
12. Texas Crab Festival The second weekend of May, it’s always a fun time for everyone, with live music, entertainment and tons of food!
13. Fireworks on the beach As long as there isn’t a burn ban, it’s legal to shoot off fireworks on the beach. The city will also do a big show on July 4th and New Year’s Eve. Just be aware, they will shoot them off all night long!
14. Camp on the beach Aside from your beach parking permit, it’s FREE to camp on the beach! It’s primitive, with no facilities at all. You won’t find a lot of quiet here on holiday and special event weekends, so be warned, but it’s a long beach!
15. Rent a golf cart Texas Custom Carts offers fun golf cart rentals to drive to the beach and around town!
16. Party in a Traveling Tiki Raise the bar on your beach experience with a fun tiki rental! It comes with a cooler, hammock chairs, a great sound system, lights and power! It is delivered on the beach each morning, ready for your day!
17. Kites and Flags Unlimited, 1815 Hwy 87 Take advantage of the Gulf Breeze and fly a kite!
18. The Ranch Community Golf Course You’ll love this little 9-hole golf course, where it’s BYOB and even your pet is welcome!
19. The Gulf Range A family hangout, they have a fun miniature golf course, games and a grill for a full afternoon or evening of fun!
20. Get some fish tacos from Hardheads Icehouse and Grill This fun, family-friendly restaurant and bar offers plenty of laid-back beach vibe!
21. A Shore Venture Fun beach toy rentals, such as kayaks, paddleboards, cabanas and chairs, bikes and much more! Check out her website for all that she offers!
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