Summer is undoubtedly beach season, and there are few places better to go for sun, sand, and surf than Galveston Island. Yet there’s far more to see and do here this summer than you’d expect, including some truly extraordinary experiences you won’t find anywhere else. From exploring a World War II submarine or soaring above Galveston in a helicopter, these adventures serve up unique ways to spice up your stay when you need a break from the beach.
Step into a World War II Submarine
It was on her maiden patrol in the summer of 1944 that the USS Cavalla avenged an American tragedy. With a salvo of six torpedoes, the Gato-class submarine brought down the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Shokaku, one of six aircraft carriers that launched the fateful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This authentic piece of American history still lives on at the American Undersea Warfare Center (soon to be known as the Galveston Naval Museum) where you can explore the inner workings of the Cavalla as well as the USS Stewart, a destroyer escort that primarily served in the North Atlantic.
Embark on a Dolphin-Spotting Adventure
Yes, you read that right. Not only are there dolphins in Galveston’s coastal waters, but it’s actually quite common to see them swimming alongside ferries and boats between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. Watch these playful creatures on a dolphin watching tour. Such excursions,offered by BayWatch Dolphin Tours and Seagull II Harbor Tour & Dolphin Watch, take you out on a dolphin-friendly boat with no propellers, allowing up-close views and memorable photo-ops.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Galveston Island
Although strolling along the Seawall and lounging on a sandy beach are some of the best ways to enjoy Galveston’s coastal charm, there are more adventurous ways to take it all in. Watch the ocean tides roll on the shore and enjoy a spectacular view of the Seawall, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and other hotspots from the cockpit of a helicopter during a flight with Galveston Helicopter Tours. Looking for your next rush of adrenaline? Try leaping out of an airplane 14,000 feet above Galveston with Skydive Galveston.
Meet a Penguin
With their black and white feathers and adorable waddle, Humboldt penguins are just about the cutest animal you’ll meet. Fortunately, you don’t need to travel to the coasts of Peru or Chile to see them. They’re among the many penguins that call Moody Gardens’ Aquarium Pyramid home. Watch these small and energetic birds swim in the Humboldt Penguin habitat and get a close-up look at King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins in the South Atlantic Pacific Habitat.
Discover Galveston’s Historic Architecture on a Segway
Before the destructive hurricane in 1900, Galveston was a thriving seaside city second only to Ellis Island as an immigration port. Although the storm changed the course of history, much of the grand and glorious architecture of the era still stands to this very day. You can see these historical treasures everywhere, but one of the best ways to really get to know Galveston’s historic side is on a Segway tour with SegCity Segway Tours Galveston. On your majestic two-wheel steed, you’ll pass the Galveston Railroad Museum and venture into the largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the country on your way to the seawall. Led by a knowledgeable guide, it’s a great way to learn about local lore.
All Photos Courtesy of Galveston Island CVB.