When you're looking to escape the bustle of the city, there's nothing quite like a little sand and surf. And from coastal sailing and fishing to kayaking area lakes and bayous, the Houston region offers an abundance of activities on the water.
Canoe and Kayak
Take a guided canoe or boat tour along scenic Armand Bayou at the Armand Bayou Nature Center near Clear Lake. You're bound to see wildlife such as alligators and river otters, not to mention beautiful fauna long the banks of the bayou. Nearer the heart of the city enjoy kayak and canoe tours of Buffalo Bayou, the serpentine waterway on which Houston was founded. You'll see beautiful views of the Downtown skyline and get up close and personal with nature in this urban wilderness.
Several companies offer charter and public cruises on Galveston Bay. Star Fleet has five yachts that can accommodate up to 365 guests and include amenities such as bars and dance floors. The 100-foot Star Gazer is one of the most recognizable vessels on the waters around Clear Lake. Star Fleet also has sailing catamaran cruises. Houston Party Boats offers regular public cruises of the waterfront as well as public dinner cruises on both party boats and the Spirit of Texas Paddlewheeler. Both companies are available for private parties and special events.
Along Cypress Creek in Spring, you'll find Collins Park, a 55-acre park with multiple nature trails and fishing opportunities along the creek. Late winter and early spring are the best times for catching white bass and crappie, while catfish can be caught year-round. Further north of Houston, Lake Livingston is a large reservoir lake surrounded by natural beauty. The lake is a notable white bass and catfish fishery. Around the lake you'll find opportunities for picnicking, camping and mountain biking. White-tailed deer, swamp rabbits, mallards and other wildlife are frequently seen in this part of the Piney Woods. For a bigger adventure, hook up with Captain Mike Williams at Galveston Fishing Guides for an offshore trip to catch tarpons, sharks, redfish and more.
Jetski and Sail
Ply the waters off Kemah on a Yamaha jetski through Nautica Watercrafts. Nautica has a large fleet of high speed jetskis and other vessels such as sea kayaks. You can even go on day-long or half-day captained fishing charters into Galveston Bay. For a more relaxing time, take a day, sunset or night cruise aboard one of Nautica's captained sailboats. Each cruise is roughly four hours long and is a great option for those seeking a romantic experience. South Coast Sailing Adventures has something for everybody - whether you are a beginner or experienced sailor. The South Coast sailing school offers ASA lessons for all skill levels, taught by instructors that will familiarize you with the ins and outs of navigation, racing and cruising. And South Coast's creative variation of the bed & breakfast concept allows you to spend a romantic night in a nautical setting.
The Spring/aquifer fed waters of 288 Lake are naturally filtered by the limestone and sandstone providing visibility ranges of 4 to 25 feet. That makes this one of the best places in the region to scuba dive, allowing certified divers to explore an ecosystem of aquatic plants and animals in a relaxed, contained environment. 288 Lake also offers kayaking and day access to its beach.
Sun and Surf
The 32-acre Sylvan Beach Park located on the northern end of Galveston Bay boasts fine sandy beaches and smaller waves perfect for swimming. You'll also find picnic tables, a fishing pier, boat ramp and more amenities. About an hour south of Houston is Galveston Island and the Galveston Island State Park, which features miles of scenic beaches and amenities such as picnic shelters, restrooms and more.
Looking to get a little wind in your face? Head to Kemah and take a ride on the Boardwalk Beast at the Kemah Boardwalk. This adrenaline rush of a speedboat takes passengers four miles into Galveston Bay at speeds up to 40 mph. Music, wind and waves are all a part of the fun on the Beast. Meanwhile, Wake Nation is a full-scale cable wakeboarding park set on a 12-acre lake just off Highway 288 south of the city. This attraction boasts 35-foot steel towers carrying a unique overhead cable system enabling riders to wakeboard, water skate, water ski, and kneeboard without a boat around the lake at up to 40 mph. For novice riders, a practice pond is available for an "easy start" ride. For the more experience riders, the lake is outfitted with custom-built jumps, grind rails, and sliders.
To download high-res images, visit photo gallery.