Galveston Island is a barrier island on the Texas Gulf coast in the United States, about 50 miles southeast of Houston. The entire island, with the exception of the little Village of Jamaica Beach, is within the city limits of the City of Galveston.
Galveston Island is believed to be approximately 5000 years old and has had an interesting history during the past 500 years. It is generally believed Cabeza de Vaca and his crew were shipwrecked here in 1520 and eventually made their way from the island to colonies in Mexico. The LaFitte brothers, fleeing the prosecution of pirates in the United States, established a government here in 1817, with visions of creating a “Manhattan on the Gulf.” Commerce did thrive here, but major storms in 1867, 1871, 1875, and 1886 greatly slowed progress. The great storm of 1900 devastated the island, killing 5000 to 10,000 people, and prompted the construction of the seawall which protects the northern half of the island.
Galveston’s East Beach is the coolest and biggest beach in Texas. Famous for its great beach parties, East Beach has major outdoor concerts, special events, promotions, bikini contests, live bands, and other activities that are described in the Galveston.com calendar of events.
Palm Beach at Moody Gardens offers soft white sand and crystal-clear fresh water lagoons and waterfalls surrounded by lush, exotic landscaping.
One of Galveston’s premier family beach parks, Stewart Beach sponsors family-oriented events, such as volleyball tournaments and sandcastle competitions, throughout the summer season.
Wondering what to do while on the Island? Galveston is famous for its festivals – from Dickens on The Strand, to Epicurean Evening, to Mardi Gras! Galveston, to the Lone Star Rally.
Other than the beach, the top destination for Galveston visitors is the 242-acre Moody Gardens . Part theme park, part educational and rehabilitative facility, part pleasure garden, Moody Gardens is a vacation all by itself. Upon entering Moody Gardens, you are instantly wowed by the lush and other worldly environment created by the Moody family. Amidst the profusion of tropical plants gleam three glass pyramids – pink, blue and white – housing a 10-story rainforest, one of the world’s largest aquariums, and an educational Discovery Museum.
Galveston Island is about 27 miles long and no more than 3 miles wide at its widest point. The island is oriented generally northeast-southwest, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east and south, West Bay on the west, and Galveston Bay on the north. The island’s main access point from the mainland is the Interstate Highway 45 causeway that crosses West Bay on the northeast side of the island. The far north end of the island is separated from the Bolivar Peninsula by Galveston Harbor, the entrance to Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel. Ferry service is available between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula. The southern end of the island is separated from the mainland by San Luis Pass. The San Luis Pass-Vacek Toll Bridge connects the San Luis Pass Road on Galveston Island with the Bluewater Highway that leads south into the town of Surfside Beach.