I took a four day road trip last weekend to the North Texas gulf coast in search of some ridable waves and to simply satisfy my curiosity of what the surf scene looks like down there. I checked the surf forecasts religiously prior to embarking on my 5 hour 300 mile drive from Dallas. My plan was to drive straight through Houston to Galveston Island, and then slowly make my way south to Surfside Beach.
The drive was long, but no terrible. I armed myself with audiobooks, podcasts, and classic rock to help the time pass as I cruised down to Galveston Island for my first stop of the trip. I went first to a local surf shop as I read online they were having big sale on surfboards, and figured now that I (sort of) live within driving distance to a beach, it would be in my best interest to buy my own board if only to gain the added convenience of not having to pick it up and return it on future coastal surf missions.
Before I even got to the surf shop, I stopped at to the intersection of 61st and Seawall Blvd overlooking the beach and what I saw completely validated my 300 mile journey. The surf was 4-5’, and perfectly clean. It was Sunday afternoon, and the parking spots lining Seawall Blvd were jammed packed with pickups, surf vans, and surfers of all ages grinning from ear to ear. I went to the surf shop, and made a quick decision on my new board to preserve the precious time to actually go surfing that afternoon.
I grabbed the closest parking spot, and couldn’t get my wetsuit on fast enough. I installed the single fin in my newly purchased 8’ log, and ran out there not knowing how long conditions would last. (This is Texas mind you, winds could switch onshore at any time!!)
What followed would be an amazing surf session, I surfed for 3 hours until sunset and enjoyed the surfing camaraderie only found in Texas. This would only be an average day at many breaks in CA, but for these locals every wave was viewed as a gift. I would learn that 61st has a little more punch than many of the other breaks in the area, the sand bars are a little better than the spots nearby. I also learned to away from the fishing pier, although I was asked to do so in a very polite Texas fashion.
The next morning the winds were still offshore and the swell had dropped down to about 2.’ It was Monday morning, and the only surfers I saw all morning were surfing the South side of the other fishing Pier in town “Galveston Pier.” The waves seemed to be breaking pretty well, and the small 2’ lines were connecting all the way into the inside. I decided to get a session in here, and hopefully explore other breaks down South later in the day. I always enjoy venturing out into new surf territory after getting my fill of waves for the day. Knowing that if I strike out I at least had the morning session. The morning waves were fun, and the locals were very friendly and happy to share the left overs from the weekends swell.
Later that day I decided to make my way south all the way to Surfside Beach. By this time, the winds had turned onshore and the clean lines of the morning were long gone. I enjoyed a very scenic drive over the San Luis Island Pass and into Surfside. Not being used to sparsely populated coast lines, the vacant houses, open highway, and empty beaches were very intriguing and made me feel like I was somewhere much more distant that E Texas. The towns of Jamaica Beach, and eventually Surfside Beach looked like ghost towns and were more remote than what I was expecting. I checked the surf along the way at some of the many beach access roads, but it became overwhelmingly clear I would need to find some wind protection if I was going to paddle out again that afternoon. I then drove to Surfside Jetty, hoping the curvature of the coast line and the fishing jetty would block the wind, but by that time the wind was blowing cross shore from the NE making conditions better but still very rough.
On the other side of the jetty channel at Surfside, I saw a seemingly vacant fishing pier where another stretch of beach continued down the coast. The wind conditions made me wonder if surfing on the other side of the channel would be more favorable as the jetty would block the wind. I wondered what the surf looked like over there, it was only about 1500 ft. away but due to the channel getting over there would be another 30 minute drive to drive west to the bridge to head back east again to what’s known as Quintana Beach. I honestly didn’t even know if there was a public road that went there, or if the beach was public. I saw what looked like a giant nuclear plant nearby and wondered if the beach was off limits due to pollution or radiation. (Embarrassingly, this was a petroleum center. I’m really far from home) After consulting google, it seemed that there was an RV park over there, and other “signs of civilization” landmarks nearby. So I jumped in the truck and went for it.
After some wrong turns, some “what the heck is that?”, and “where am I right now?” moments later I arrived at Quintana County Park (the fishing jetty from across the channel). The parking lot more like a mud pit as the entire dirt parking lot had been flooded out. I somehow found a path to the beach, hiked over a hill full of dense vegetation and finally saw the mysterious jetty on the other side of the channel. What I saw exceeded even my wildest expectations.
Glassy 2-3’ waves with not a single human in sight. I still had no clue if surfing was allowed here, but for a second time this trip I was struggling to get my legs into my wetsuit due to the overwhelming excitement. My concerns about water quality, theft, and being on private property were now gone as all I could think about was riding these amazing long clean lines. With one look at the waves I now felt completely validated in going on such a wild goose chase.The paddle out was easy as the wave interval seemed to be much slower at this spot. I took the first good wave to come my way, found myself in perfect position. I made a big hook turn left, I cruised down the line almost 50 yards and then turned right to ride another 25 yards back to the jetty. I threw my my hands in the air and screamed in victory. There was no one to see me. Not on the beach, not in the lineup, not on the fishing jetty. One of the best waves of my life, made even better by being in an obscure part of the North Texas coast with not a single soul around to witness. I surfed until sunset feeling closer to God than I had ever felt in any church service, with an overwhelming feeling of validation for taking the road less traveled. Not just that day, but in life in general.