Map of Galveston Bay: View Full Map

Galveston Bay


Location
City Galveston
State Texas
Country United States




Navigation
Latitude 29° 21" 20'
Longitude -94° 45" 41'
Format DD DMS
Body of water Galveston Bay
Current Conditions
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Temperature: 86F
Dewpoint: 86F

Partly Cloudy
High: 91F
Low: 81F

Partly Cloudy
High: 93F
Low: 81F

Partly Cloudy
High: 91F
Low: 81F

Partly Cloudy

Introduction:
The image above is a view from the south over Galveston and Pelican islands and up into the entrance channel to Galveston Bay between Port Bolivar to the east (right) and the long port barrier from Texas City to the left (west). Though the depths in and around Galveston Island are fairly deep and kept dredged for oil tankers and commercial vessels all the way up to the Houston Ship Channel, the majority of Galveston Bay is shallow, with average depths of five to 10 feet. Outside of the ship channels is nowhere near a navigational nightmare, but you do have to keep an eye out on where you are and what areas you may be heading into.

Galveston Bay encompasses many shoreside areas, and many are set up to handle visiting boaters with good facilities. In galveston itself, the majority of the marinas are located just south of Pelican Island and north of Galveston Island right among the port facilities. These marinas are visible in the image above, if you use the zoom feature that is located in the upper left-hand corner of the image. The second largest marina area is around Offatts Bayou just near Teichman Point and farther east near the airfield on Galveston Island.

History:
Galveston was named for Bernardo de Gálvez, a Spanish Colonial governor and general. Galvez sent Jose de Evia to chart the Gulf of Mexico from the Texas coast to New Orleans, and on July 23, 1786, de Evia charted an area near the mouth of a river and named it Galveston Bay. Later, the island and city took the same name. Bernardo de Gálvez died the same year, never setting foot on his namesake island.
Galveston’s prosperity suddenly came to a halt on September 8, 1900, when the deadliest natural disaster in United States history hit Galveston Island. A storm with winds exceeding 120 miles per hour and tidal surge devastated the island and killed more than 6,000 people. At the time of the 1900 Storm, Galveston had a population of 37,000 and was the fourth largest city in Texas following Houston, Dallas and San Antonio and the most sophisticated city in Texas. One-third of the city was completely destroyed, more than 3,600 buildings.

[i]Portions Courtesy Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau[\i]

Navigating the Water:
Use NOAA Chart 11324 for the Galveston Island area.

Navigating in and around the Galveston Island area is quite easy if you keep a few pointers in mind. First, this is a commercial cargo and oil refining area, and some of the largest oil tankers, car carriers and even cruise ships use the deep-water channels the lead into Galveston Bay and the surrounding waters. Secondly, much of the off-channel water in Galveston Bay is shallow (five to ten feet with shallower spots), so you must keep an eye on the depth sounder and plot your navigational course for the deepest water if you draw more than five feet. Lastly, the maze of lights and onshore aids to navigation can make finding lighted buoys a nightmare at night. A slow and steady course, and a GPS, if available, are highly recommended tactics.

Statute Mile 350 of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is located dead in the center of the Galveston approach channel. This inland water way leads west and east of Harvey Lock in Louisiana, and farther west to the Rio Grande River.

Local Notices to Mariners:
See our “Local Notices to Mariners” blog for updates on the latest conditions and advisories for this area.

Things To Do/Local Events:
New to the Island? If so, then first, get oriented with a trip to one of the two Galveston Island Visitors Centers. If you envision more of a beach playday, the 2027 61st Street Visitors Center is for you. If you're thinking you want to explore Galveston's historic shopping and arts district, head to the 2215 Strand Visitors Center. Operated by the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, both locations offer a wealth of brochures, free maps of the Island, and friendly guides ready to point you in the direction of whatever fun you have in mind ... and maybe even some fun you didn't know existed.

Other than the beach, two top destinations for Galveston visitors is the 242-acre Moody Gardens and the newly-opened Schlitterbahn Galveston Island Waterpark. Part theme park, part educational and rehabilitative facility, part pleasure garden, Moody Gardens is a vacation all by itself, and Schlitterbahn is the first waterpark of its kind that is open year-round!

The best way to connect to Galveston's past is by an excursion through one of its historic districts, or a tour of one of the historic homes that are open to the public. Stroll through the 36-square-block area of downtown Galveston, exploring the enticing shops on The Strand, the waterfront district, and the docks for the cruise lines), and the trendy Postoffice Arts District. Pick up one of Galveston Historical Foundation's excellent brochures. For a self-guided walking or driving tour of the East End Historical District (east of 19th Street) or the Silk Stocking District (from 23rd to 26th streets, between Avenues K and P).

Museum's abound, whether you fancy land, sea, or air - from the art deco Railroad Museum at the foot of The Strand, to the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum on Pier 20, to the Lone Star Flight Museum (next to Moody Gardens), the Mardi Gras Museum, the Texas Seaport Museum on Pier 21 featuring the Tall Ship Elissa and the Galveston County Historical Museum round out the Island's collection.

Information Courtesy Galveston Island Visitors and Convention Bureau

Transportation:
The closest major airport to Galveston is the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, which is just north of Houston about 48 miles away. You can arrange for shuttle service from the airport, but the fare can be bit cost prohibitive. Alternatively, some choose to do a one-way rental from one of the car rental office in Galveston, as the price can sometimes be cheaper. If you have to get out of town or make crew changes, check with one of the area marinas or a local for suggestions on transportation.

Additionally, William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) is presently served by eight (8) scheduled passenger airlines. In 2001, airline carriers performed handled 249,304 operations and enplaned and deplaned more than 8.6 million passengers. Houston's William P. Hobby Airport is the largest hub airport for Southwest Airlines. Numerous other carriers also offer domestic air service through Hobby Airport. All of Hobby's airlines are located in its convenient terminal building. Only U.S. destinations are served through Hobby. All of Houston's international air service is flown from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Island Trolley and Island Transit can hop you around the Galveston Island area, but do not expect long-range shuttle service. This is mainly a tourist-oriented transit system and normally stays within local areas.


[i]Portions Courtesy Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau[\i]