Posted on 5/22/2024

Kayaking in Galveston: What to Know

With the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the West Bay on the other, Galveston Island is a water sports haven with opportunities to surf,  fish, stand up paddleboard, and, of course, kayak!

After you’ve picked out the perfect beachfront or bayside Galveston vacation rental, it’s time to start planning all the fun activities you’ll enjoy on the island. Whether you’re just curious about kayaking or a tried and tested water warrior, you’ll find that Galveston has lots of options for paddling on calm breakwaters or Gulf waves.

With kayak rentals and guided excursions available by day and night (yes, sunset and moonlit tours are a thing here), Galveston is a paddler’s dream. The guide below will help with everything you need to know about kayaking in Galveston, from beginner tips to rental companies to the best spots to launch.

About Kayaking in Galveston

With everything from calm breakwaters on the bay side to Gulf waves on the beach side, Galveston truly has a kayaking adventure for every experience level. If you’re new to paddling, several companies offer guided tours or rentals at generally calmer zones like Galveston Island State Park.

Paddlers with some experience under their belt can bring their own gear or rent from local companies to test out sea kayaking on the Gulf of Mexico.

Where to Kayak in Galveston

With Galveston Bay on one side and the Gulf on the other, there are endless options for where to kayak in Galveston; here are a few of our favorites.

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park is a popular choice for calm conditions protected by breakwaters. There are three different paddling trails ranging from 2.6 to 4.8 miles. The put-in points here are Dana Cove, Oak Bayou, and Jenkins Bayou.

Lake Como

Just east of the park, Lake Como is another great option for all paddlers, as you can launch into the calm, protected saltwater that leads out into West Galveston Bay.

East End Lagoon Nature Preserve

On the far side of the island, the East End Lagoon Nature Preserve has 684 acres of undeveloped salt marsh and coastal prairie and a boat launch for kayaks and paddleboards.

The West End

On the  West End, the Coastal Heritage Preserve includes nearly 900 acres that you can explore on kayak adventures with Artist Boat.

Kayak Outfitters and Guides

Texas Camp Company

Texas Camp Company is the official outfitter for  Galveston Island State Park, with everything from kayaks and bikes to beach chairs and cabanas. You can rent a single or double kayak in the park at hourly, daily, and weekly rates with life jackets, paddle leashes, and a safety whistle included. The kayak launch is located at Lake Como on the bayside of the park.

Friends of Galveston Island State Park

New kayakers are welcome for a lesson and free rentals during special events hosted by Friends of Galveston Island State Park.

The excursion starts in the park with a lesson on land before kayakers take off for a gentle paddle on a pond or cove. The entire experience is free (not including state park admission), and reservations should be made in advance. You can  check the events calendar for the next outing.

Artist Boat

  • Address: 13117 Settegast Rd, Galveston, TX
  • Website
  • Phone number: (409) 770-0722

The Artist Boat is such a fun way to get out on the water, connect with nature, and tap into your creative side. The Eco Art Kayak Adventure launches in the Coastal Heritage Preserve on Galveston’s West End for a 4-hour excursion.

Along the way, you’ll learn about conservation efforts on the Texas coast and learn about watercolor art before painting your own nature-themed masterpiece.

Large families or groups can also schedule private tours with Artist Boat.

Galveston Kayak Outfitters

Rentals and tours are both available through Galveston Kayak Outfitters. The company has both single and tandem kayaks for daily use or longer periods at a discount. The rentals include paddles, life jackets, and free delivery to anywhere on the island, so this is the perfect solution if you’d like to kayak from your bayside Galveston vacation home.

Beach Town Tours

  • Address: 18043 Shaman Rd, Galveston, TX
  • Website:
  • Phone number: (832) 630-2440

If you’re new to kayaking and looking to join a guided excursion, Beach Town Tours is the perfect solution. The tour and rental shop offers several types of outings around the island, including sunset paddles on the bay, daytime jaunts in the wetlands, moonlit kayak tours at night, and special seasonal offerings that include crabbing and oyster picking.

Southern Spears Surf Shop

This surf shop on the Seawall rents out kayaks, surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, and boogie boards for independent adventures. You can borrow single or double kayaks by the hour or for the whole day by stopping into the shop or making an online reservation.

Galveston Kayaking Tips

Best Season for Kayaking

You can kayak throughout the year in Galveston, but  spring and  fall are particularly nice when the weather is warm but not too hot.

Water temperatures in winter are around 60 degrees, which can make for some cold splashes on a chilly day. Hurricane season runs through summer and fall, but it’s smart to check the forecast for rain before heading out at any time.

How to Prepare for Kayaking

If it’s your first time kayaking, Galveston is a great spot to learn on some of the calmer waters along the bay. While you don’t need a lesson to get started, it’s helpful to at least have an overview of how to hold and move a paddle, especially if you’ll be kayaking in tandem.

It’s also important to know your limits and not venture far from shore unless you're both comfortable paddling and familiar with the route. For the safest kayaking experience, check out some of the guided tour options further down.

What to Wear Kayaking

The right kayaking outfit will depend on the temperature in Galveston, but you should be prepared to get wet no matter the season.

  • Pick fabrics that dry quickly, like swimwear, UPF shirts, and board shorts.
  • For footwear, opt for water shoes or socks, or sandals with straps.

What to Pack for Kayaking

Before heading on a kayaking trip, make sure you have a few essentials with you.

  • Since you’ll be on the water for an hour or more, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a shady hat are a must.
  • You’ll also want a reusable water bottle and snacks.
  • Pack a dry bag with a towel, any electronics you can’t leave behind, and the rest of your essentials.

Stay and Kayak in Galveston

Kayaking in Galveston is such a fun way to  spend time outdoors and enjoy the beautiful scenery around the island. Whether it’s your first time paddling or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll find great kayaking trails in Galveston.

Pack your sunscreen, grab your paddle, and book your Galveston beach vacation today!

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