Galveston Island is a 200-square-mile stretch of land with some of the best beaches and water activities in the state. When it comes to the Lone Star State, the 32 miles of beaches in and around Galveston beckon tourists and locals alike. These sunny beaches lure visitors to their sandy surfaces and right into a quest for the elusive creatures of the sea. Galveston is the place to discover the energetic and playful pods of dolphins that swim throughout the Bay and along the Texas Gulf Coast. While Texas does not allow people to swim with dolphins, the next best way to appreciate these entrancing creatures in their natural habitat is to adventure out on a dolphin watching tour.
Not only are these Galveston dolphin tours fun, they are also educational. The boats’ captains provide interesting and informative trivia on these fascinating sea mammals. Before heading out, prepare by learning which dolphins frequent and frolic in the waters around these tour boats. The most common resident, by far, of the coastal water along the Gulf of Mexico and Galveston Bay is the bottlenose dolphin, most likely because they prefer shallower water and are drawn to channels that connect to larger bodies of water. Fortunately for viewers, the dolphins love to make an appearance and provide plenty of entertainment.
BayWatch Dolphin Tours
BayWatch Dolphin Tours is known as “the home of the affordable family fun of Galveston, Texas.” Located at Pier 21, in front of the Harbor House Hotel at 21st Street and Harborside, it is a family-owned and oeprated business that has been serving the area since 2005. “We take pride in the fact that we keep our prices affordable for everyone while still providing 45 minutes of informative fun for young and old alike,” Captain Mike said.
This tour company is very conscientious about the safety of marine life, so they make sure their boats are dolphin safe. This means that the boats do not have propellers but are driven instead by jet propulsion motors, which ensure a safer environment for and a closer look at the dolphins.
There are several options when it comes to their touring boats. The BayWatch I is a 34-foot United States Coast Guard (USCG) certified boat that carries up to 36 passengers and features a covered interior. This boat can also be chartered for private events such as birthdays, weddings, famil reunions, or even burials at sea. Guests can bring their own food, drinks, and adult beverages. The Texas Tease is a 65-foot party yacht that holds up to 89 passengers, provides air-conditioned comfort to passengers, and boasts a full bar on board.
BayWatch Dolphin Tours tries to accomodate guests any way they can. If desired, catering can be provided on any private cruise by a local restaurant. Tours are available seven days a week, year round. Infants and pets ride free.
Galveston Harbor Tours
The Galveston Historical Foundation is a local preservation organization that prides itself on public education and historical and maritime preservation. In 2002, the organization purchased the Seagull II, a 50-foot catamaran, so that they could provide historic harbor and dolphin watching tours, alongside an educational experience while aboard the vessel. Their objective is to preserve history and nature while educating the public along the way.
One of the best ways to get a view of the dolphins is by cruising around on this USCG certified boat and enjoying the one hour narrated tour aboard the Seagull II Harbor Tour and Dolphin Watch. The Seagull II is Texas Seaport Museum’s twin-engine motor vessel where participants can sit back (either on the main deck that is sheltered from the sun and rain or on the open upper deck) and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Galveston Bay and the historic Port of Galveston, not to mention the birds and marine life.
They also offer a Marine Biology Harbor Tour that provides an educational perspective on an even deeper level. This tour, also aboard the Seagull II, is available to the public with limited dates. For one and a half hours, marine biologist Sid Steffens, Ph.D., provides an opportunity for guests to observe dolphins in their natural habitat, trawl for marine organisms, and study plankton through a microscope.
Tickets for both of these tours can be purchased at the Texas Seaport Museum Gift Shop located at Pier 22 next to the Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant. Children five and younger are free. Seagull II can also be used as a private charter for birthday parties, receptions, or other get-togethers.
Get Hooked Charters and Boat Tours
Get Hooked Charters and Boat Tours is another family-owned and operated business that offers tours 365 days a year. Their operation is located out of the Galveston Yacht Basin floating docks off of Barracuda Avenue, right outside of the main gate. According to owner Mike Short, “getting you ‘hooked up’ is our only business.”
Their Dolphin and Sightseeing Tours are family friendly and take place on boats ranging from 22 to 39 feet, provided through private charters. While touring around the channel for two hours, guests are almost guaranteed to see dolphins body surfing in the wake created by the boat, or doing somersaults in the air. This tour takes place in the Galveston Bay Complex, but if interested parties wish to view other areas, contact Captain Mike for custom pricing.
Dolphins may even follow the boat, steered by USCG licensed captains, while also takin gin the views of the cruise ship terminal, oil rig museum, SELMA (the sunken concrete ship), and the ferry landing. Riders may even bring a small cooler with drinks and snacks on board to enjoy while cruising around the Bay and drinking in the sights and sounds of the region.
Most of the time, when people think of Texas, they think of land features such as cattle ranches, horses, and rodeos. But there are less visible marine mammals that deserve acknowledgement, as well. Take a trip to Galveston this summer and learn about these social and mischevious creatures that always have grins on their faces.