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The pier at San Luis Pass County Park in Galveston, TX.

The San Luis Pass Galveston Island Park

This Galveston Island park is located at the southwest end of the Island—it’s the pass that connects Galveston’s southwest side with the Texas mainland. People are drawn to the tip of Galveston where the pass begins for fishing, birdwatching, or just a nice day out; it offers a varied landscape depending which way you’re facing. If facing northwest toward the bay, you’ll find tidal flats dotted with scrubs and cane grass; the Gulf side features sand flats and dunes.

The area is lovely thanks in part to the lack of development there. Tides, sand, and storms make building there a poor decision, so the area is naturally set aside for those who want to get out and enjoy nature. Many people from Galveston have fond childhood memories of days spent at San Luis Pass County Park. Granted, the spot is not the same as it used to be—while pier fishing was a favorite activity for locals as well as tourists, Hurricane Ike destroyed the pier in 2008. Access to the public beach is now permanently submerged by the Gulf, as is where the bait house once stood. Parking is simply limited to anywhere not on the soft sand or in the plant life.

A Scenic Retreat

It would be misleading to call San Luis “hidden,” but that doesn’t change that it still feels off the beaten path. There are no lifeguards, and no sewage systems, so you really are “away from it all” and left to your own devices (but no glass, alcohol, or off-road vehicles please). The tidal flats and grassy wetlands are well away from the city, making it a nice place to get away from manmade noise and enjoy the expanse of nature’s bounty near the Gulf of Mexico. Please note, this Galveston Island park is not a place for swimming! Strong currents and abrupt changes in depth make swimming in these waters too dangerous to allow.

Birds and Fish Abound

While Hurricane Ike wiped out the pier, fishing is still a popular pastime at San Luis Pass. Redfish populate the area in abundance between June and October. Black drum are also popular catches.

San Luis Pass may be one of the best Galveston county parks for bird lovers. With the sand flats and the wetlands, it’s home to many kinds of birds, including sandpipers, sparrows, herons, avocets, loons, pelicans, and egrets.

Where to Find the San Luis Pass County Park

To get to San Luis Pass County Park, take FM 3005 and turn left right before crossing the east side of the San Luis Pass bridge. If the water is too high to access the beach, enter instead just south of the water tower and ride along the beach about two miles to the Pass. San Luis Pass is one of the only beaches that allow vehicle access.