Surfing in Texas

It gets relatively annoying when someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about says there isn't any surf in Texas. I've been surfing and bodyboarding for 20 years so either I've been deluded or I've joined thousands of other Texans in making do with what we have on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Now, granted... Texas surf doesn't compare to California, Hawaii or even Florida. However, we do get some decent surf. Springtime and autumn are particularly nice and winter, at times, can be big and clean (but cold!). Despite the summer doldrums, we can get some excellent storm-generated surf... be it a nice low pressure system or a tropical system.

Cold fronts clean up winter waves - Surfside, TX

Now, I'm not going to give you a break-by-break rundown. I'll just leave it at the basics. Some of they main areas, going north to south, (not exhaustive) for surfing in Texas are:

  • Galveston
  • Surfside
  • Matagorda
  • Port Aransas
  • Mustang Island
  • South Padre Island
Being in Houston, clearly the ones that I'm most familiar with are Galveston and Surfside. The lower Texas gulf coast has larger waves due to the shallower waters but I can't always manage four+ hour drives to get to bigger waves in Padre or Corpus.

The biggest wave you will ever see in Texas
South Padre during Hurricane Katrina

Galveston has a few main spots where you will typically find the best waves on the island - on either side of the Flagship Hotel (west side is better, more crowded, but both sides break), around 53rd and 37th street by the jetties and on the west side of the 61st street pier. No one surfs at east beach or really anywhere east of the Flagship. The Balinese used to have serviceable waves years ago but that's no longer the case - I think you can get in trouble for it, too. The west end of the island has some waves along the pocket parks or near Pirate's Beach and Jamaica Beach but that's where it ends. You don't want to surf by San Luis Pass... bad currents and plenty of sharks looking for a snack.

A good day in Galveston at 51st street

Surfside is further down the coast - definitely not as much to do in town but there are waves by the jetty (and area called The Octagon even though the actual octagon is gone and it never really was an octagon), by A-Frames (never really spent any time surfing there) and further up the coast at A-holes. If you're coming from the causeway, you turn right at the main road and eventually turn into the neighborhood at the left. To get to A-holes... well, it's further up the coast towards Galveston in a beach community. I wouldn't know how to describe how to get there but, well, it's there. On certain swells, you get large crumbling waves inside the channel... just you, a few surfers and an oil tanker or two. Surfside is usually bigger than Galveston but sloppier, too. A good day will bring out a ton of heads at the Octagon.

Sloppy chop at the Octagon

More consistent waves can be found further south with Bob Hall Pier known as some of the best waves on the Gulf Coast.

Hollow waves at Bob Hall Pier

The water on the gulf coast, though typically a rich "Chocolate Yoo Hoo", is actually relatively clean. On some spring and fall days, the water is nice and green and you can clearly see your feet while sitting on your board. There aren't too many issues with localism and the vibe is pretty mellow.

For more on surfing in Texas, check out the following links:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yesterday was one of those good spring days @ the octa-gone... :)