Introduction:

Galveston Island State Park has two separate campgrounds, one on the Gulf Coast beach side of the island and the other, about 1.5 miles away, on the bay side of the island. We stayed on the beach side for a week and then booked an additional week on the bay side. The beach side costs $25 per night, while the bay side costs $20 per night.

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The Basics:

Overall Rating: 3.8/5

Price per night / Discounts: $25 / Texas State Park Pass (see summary below for details)

Campground website: Galveston Island State Park

Our Site #: 2 (beach side) and 59 (bay side)

Privacy Rating (how spacious and private do the sites feel):

3/5: 3 is an average between the two sites (4 for the beach side, 2 for the bay side). The beach side was much more spacious than the bay side. On the beach side, sites are lined up next to one another, facing the beach, with a covered picnic table between each site. There is no natural vegetation, but there is a good amount of separation between the sites and the camp fire ring is placed at the back of the sites, so if you're sitting out at night, you don't feel like you're looking in your neighbor's windows.

On the bay side, sites are arranged in a ring and they are offset from one another. While this meant we had a nice view of the bay from the driver's side of our rig, it also meant we were very close to our neighbors on both sides. When our neighbors were sitting outside talking, we could hear every word, and we noticed that there were no fire pits at any of the campsites. There were some in the circle in the middle of the campground, but none at the individual sites - likely because the sites are so close to one another, the smoke would bother folks. There was very little sense of privacy on the bay side, at least in our site. If they removed 3 or 4 sites, they could make the existing ones more spacious and it would make a huge difference.

Location Rating (accessibility to points of interest or to major highways):

4/5: As far as proximity to the beach and bay, you can't get any better. There is direct access from the campgrounds to the water on both sides of the island (there is a dune separating the beach from the campsites). The park is also about a 10 or 15 minute drive from downtown Galveston Island, so not far at all, and the island is about 30 minutes from NASA and an hour from downtown Houston, so it's a really great location to set up shop for a couple weeks and explore a pretty interesting coastal area.

Site Quality and Big Rig Accessibility Rating (utilities and accessibility of campground hook ups):

3.75/5: The sites here could use some TLC, but it's mostly because they are prone to flooding. When we arrived, many of the beach side sites were basically ponds because of the rain. The park employees came out during the day to pump some of the water out, but the end result of constant flooding is sites that look pretty beat up. They were reasonably level though, and the hookups (just water and electric) worked fine. We thought the price was fair given the quality of the sites.

Technology and Customer Service Rating (online resources, reservations, and staff):

4/5: Texas state parks have their own online reservation service. The nice part is you can book your own reservation. The down side is you can't book a particular site, so you just get what's available when you arrive. We'd prefer to be able to scope out our own site, but it's not bad. The folks at the front desk were very helpful and easy to deal with.

Internet Availability Rating (Verizon coverage or campground wifi):

4/5: Verizon worked fine. No wifi.

Summary:

Overall, we enjoyed our stay in Galveston Island State Park, but we much preferred the sites on the beach side to those on the bay side. They were much more spacious and we had a lovely breeze coming off the water the whole time we were there. While the sites on the bay side weren't bad, they were definitely much less private and angled in such a way that sitting outside was not particularly appealing.

One item to note - in addition to the nightly campground fee, Texas state parks all charge visitors a day fee as well. It is usually $6 per person per day. A Texas State Park Pass costs $70 per year (and covers multiple people). If you do the math, it becomes worthwhile to buy a yearly pass if you are staying in the Texas State Park System for more than 7 days in a year. The pass includes 4 coupons that entitle you to half off your second night of camping.

Campground Photos (Click for larger image):

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