Surfside Beach looks for its time to shine
On the upper Texas Coast, Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula beaches soak up most of the attention. But Surfside Beach, about 40 miles west of Galveston and sitting on the same Gulf of Mexico, is a city that prides itself on being a hidden gem. The small island community is home to about 500 full-time residents who live in stilted cottages along the beach.
“Even longtime Texans don’t know about us,” said Michelle Booth, who helps spread the word about the city’s virtues. “Galveston is always mentioned as a destination, but we have everything vacationers need, too.”
Surfside is well-known in some circles for its surfing — hence, the name — and anglers found the island long ago, with plentiful fishing spots on the shore and jetties, Booth said.
“We are not trying to be bigger, and we are not trying to be something we are not,” she said. “We are different than the other coastal spots, and that’s OK with us. We are a quiet, laid-back alternative with lots of things to do.”
Birding also is popular in Surfside.
And for history aficionados, Surfside has a story to tell. “Downtown” Surfside is the former home of Fort Velasco, built in the 1830s. Fort Velasco was the prelude to the Texas Revolution and probably the first case of bloodshed in the relations between Texas and Mexico, which took place on June 26, 1832, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Henry Smith and John Austin, in charge of Texans who had gone to Brazoria to secure a cannon for use against the Mexican forces at Anahuac, opposed Domingo de Ugartechea, commander of the Mexican fort at Velasco, who tried to prevent the passage of the vessel carrying the cannon, according to the association.
There is a small museum in city hall with information about Surfside and Fort Velasco.
“This is our little slice of heaven,” Booth said. “We pride ourselves with our clean beaches and restored dunes. We just want people to know about us.”
Booth’s checklist includes:
Swim and surf
Rent jet skis, paddleboats and kayaks
Build campfires on the beach
Walk the shore looking for unusual shells
Ride golf carts on paths or the beach
Gallop on horses
Hire a boat for deep-sea fishing
Eat fresh seafood
Rise early and watch the sunrise