The coastline of Texas in the southeast of the state is an impressive stretch spanning from South Padre Island to Houston, over 360 miles of beaches and boating opportunities. Renting a boat in Texas is a fantastic choice for both locals and visitors, it’s a way to beat the heat and cruise in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to the open ocean in the Gulf, southeast Texas offers inland boating opportunities too. Bayous and rivers abound, as well as a great collection of fishing lakes, which makes the area excellent for fishing charters and fishing boat rentals of all different types. Watersports like wakeboarding, tubing and jet skiing, fishing, paddling sports, and simply going for a ride are all fun ways to spend an afternoon (or a week) here.
Preparation is an important part of boating no matter where you go. Boating safety should always be the first priority. In southeast Texas, the weather is probably the thing you most need to prepare for. On sunny days, humidity, mosquitoes, and heat can be factors that you should be aware of. Be prepared with adequate water, head protection, sunscreen, and insect repellent. Watch the weather reports to be well-prepared for thunderstorms, as they can make being on the water very unsafe. Finally, be certain you have the correct equipment for your boat. Life jackets, working VHF radios on larger water bodies, and a good first-aid kit are the minimum precautions you should take.
A quick note about hurricane season: this region of Texas can get some of the worst storms anywhere in the country. Be certain you have checked the weather, especially during the months of August and September, when the intensity of the storms are the greatest. If you are already out, find shelter immediately. If you have not left on your boating trip, then reschedule after the storm passes and find shelter on land.
There are many different boat types to be found in this region. Along the coast, there is a large sailing community. Both large cruising sailboats and small topside-only sailing boats are common. Saltwater fishing boats can range from fully open to a cabin cruiser or express cruiser with a large deck and plenty of room to sleep and eat. If you are going to explore the rivers and estuaries, fan boats, also known as airboats, are a popular rental choice. They are relatively unique to the Gulf Coast states, as this is one of the best places in the US to travel large expanses of estuarine wetlands. Birders and other wildlife explorers like kayaks and canoes, as they offer the ability to get close to nature in a quiet way. Stand-up paddleboards are as popular here as they have become throughout the rest of the country.
Many of the top tourist attractions in Houston are on the waterfront. Houston is a fantastic place to rent a boat. Though Houston sits inland of the Gulf of Mexico, there is a large waterway called Trinity Bay that connects it to the Gulf of Mexico, and several shipping canals make their way toward downtown. Larger boats and permanent marinas are available here for Houston boaters, and this is where you would go to rent or use a larger boat in the Houston area. It's a top thing to do for both visitors and locals alike in Houston.
Other top experiences to have in Houston on the water include jet ski rentals, pontoon rentals, and fishing charters. GetMyBoat has dozens of boat rental options in Houston, perfect for locals and visitors looking to get out on the water. It's a great thing to do in Houston particularly if you're traveling with kids.
On the eastern edge of the Gulf Coast, you will find the large port town of Galveston. Again, it is a large fishing and shipping port that also houses a number of marinas. Galveston is an excellent departure point for sailing, boat tours, and for sport fishing. If you are looking for a longer adventure, this is the closest point in Texas to New Orleans, and the boat ride is a popular route. Galveston is also a great spot to rent jet skis for some fun on the waves in the Gulf. It's also a great place for dolphin watching in Texas.
As the record holder for the highest recorded wind speeds in North America, sailing and other wind sports like kiteboarding and windsurfing are very popular in Corpus Christi. It’s a great city to rent a boat or try water sports. This large metropolitan center is full of resorts, and a popular spring break destination. College sports fans can double up an offshore fishing trip with a Texas A&M football game. Fishing charters are very popular in Corpus Christi, for both experienced and beginner anglers.
This barrier island off the coast of Brownsville is known for its reef community. Dive trips, wind sports (sailing, kiteboarding, windsurfing) and dolphin watching are all extremely popular here. There is also a large sportfishing community, so try a fishing charter while in South Padre. South Padre is a resort-only town that does not have a large metropolitan area, but it is one of the best places to explore watersports in the state. Of special note here is the Padre Island National Seashore. It is part of the migratory bird corridor and one of the best birding locales in the world. It is home to nesting sea turtles, and one of the few pristine examples of the original coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.
As you move away from the Gulf Coast, the waterways change from the open ocean to rivers, lakes, and large bayous. This leads many away from sailing (though windsurfing and kitesurfing are still common sports) and more into a smaller lake and river crafts. Typical boats that you find here include the iconic bayou fan boat, open bass fishing boats, jet skis, ski boats, and many different paddling vessels, like kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards, or SUPs. Rent a boat on Lake Conroe in East Texas for an unforgettable day.
Deep-sea fishing is a very popular sport at many port towns like Galveston and Corpus Christi. This can be done by charter, which is an excellent way to fish if you are short on gear and/or know-how. Common favorites include barracuda, bonito, mahi-mahi, grouper, and marlin. Saltwater fishing can be a day trip or it can mean a long weekend on board.
Though many will assume you are saltwater fishing when you go to South Texas, there is excellent freshwater fishing here as well. Rent a bass boat for a fun time while freshwater fishing. Bass and catfish are perennial favorites throughout the state, sunfish, bluegill, and crappie provide fun lake fishing, and the rivers contain some large, ancient treasures like the alligator gar.
There is really no bad place or time to go boating in southeast Texas. Though much of the boating centers around the saltwater coast, there are hundreds of lakes and rivers to explore as well for swimming, fishing, tubing, waterskiing and more. It is a year-round destination that is warm during cool winters and surprisingly refreshing during hot summers due to the ocean breezes. Spring and fall bring world-travelers coming to watch wildlife. It is the perfect place to indulge in your favorite hobby or discover something new.
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