The Gulf Coast of Texas was the third and final stop of our Texas tour. We loved San Antonio and Austin, but a bit of beach time, warm weather, and salty sea air were long overdue. The drive south from Austin was fairly uneventful, and I didn’t see any cowboys rustling up any herds on this stretch of the trip either – just a lot of asphalt and gas stations selling cheap gas (relative to what we pay in Canada). As we drove, Angela and I happily munched on the leftover BBQ we had saved from our feast at Stubb’s in Austin; succulent brisket helped to blunt the boredom of a cowboy-less drive.
We made it to Rockport by early afternoon, checking in to the Lighthouse Inn at Aransas Bay. The staff was courteous and they hooked us up with a great little mini suite that faced the water. The room had a nice balcony that looked out over the bay. We went out to get our bearings, pick up some food, and explore a bit. Located in a nice little area, most of the houses are built on stilts to avoid flooding when coastal waters come in.
We didn’t do much on day one, but as I cracked a cold beverage on the balcony I enjoyed watching the full moon rise over Texas. I figured it was a good omen, and a great way to start our time on the Gulf Coast.
Our goal in coming to this part of Texas was to really enjoy the beach, so we ventured over to Port Aransas, about a 45 minute drive plus a short ferry ride away. We zipped along in the hot Texas sun and looked forward to hitting the sand.
Port Aransas is a neat little town that features a plethora of seafood restaurants and kitschy tourist shops that seem to all be competing HARD for the tourist t-shirt dollar.
The highlight for us was definitely the beach. It’s absolutely gigantic – wide, long, sandy, and everything you hope a beach might be. You can even drive on it, which has its pluses and minuses (fun when I’m driving on it, not so much fun when someone zips by you kicking sand up all over the place).
As we were pulling up for our first glance at the beach we saw a group of people gathered at the water’s edge, pointing and laughing.
“Wonder what they’re up to?” I asked Angela.
“Dunno,” she replied, looking out at the water.
A beat passed. Then she saw it. A fin in the water.
“Dolphins!” she squealed. “Go, go, go, go, go!”
Angela loves dolphins, and to that point had never seen one in the wild. She was out of that car faster than Hussein Bolt on his best day. I followed, hastily grabbing my camera. It was the perfect start to our day,
For a relatively quiet day on the beach, there was plenty of action on the water. This beach is teeming with animal life, and I really dug watching the pelicans sail overhead, their wingspan way bigger than I remembered from the last time I saw them in Florida. Pelicans always look prehistoric to me, like they could have been zipping around these waters millions of years ago.
Competing for space on the water were windsurfers and swimmers. Not a heap of swimmers, but a few people were out there battling the waves. More prevalent were the windsurfers.
There was also one lone regular surfer out there. Surfing is something I’ve never done, but I’m adding it to the bucket list. I think, after a steep learning curve and a few thousand spectacular wipeouts, I’d be pretty average at it. But it would be fun trying.
We walked for a long time, enjoying the ridiculous amount of space on the biggest beach I’d ever seen. It was a lazy, calming day on the Gulf of Mexico.
Just about ready to pack it in after spending a number of hours out on the sand, we came across the remnants of an annual sandcastle competition that had taken place the day before. It had rained overnight, so the sand sculptures had taken a bit of a beating, but they held up pretty well considering.
The highlight for me was the Stormtrooper holding a purse while waiting for his (wife? girlfriend? mistress?) to finish shopping:
There were plenty of other gems…
Kids and families milled about, marvelling over the sculptures. It was a cool, unexpected surprise and a great way to end our time on the beach.
We drove back to Rockport and checked out a few of the shops before grabbing dinner and calling it a night. We didn’t have much time there, but it made a good impression. Texas, overall, was good to us, and we’ll be back.
Have you explored the Lone Star State? What did you think? Comment below! Cheers –