Galveston Beach Safety

Water conditions changes daily, like the weather! There are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Galveston beaches:

pictured: Galveston Island Beach Patrol Lifeguard

Sea Stuff

  • Seaweed – Seaweed is the amazing ocean vegetation that provides a habitat for a wide variety of marine life, both in the ocean and ashore. The amount of seaweed found washed ashore our beaches varies greatly, though early summer tends to be peak season. We love seeing an essential part of our ecosystem on the shore!
  • Tarballs– Tarballs are a normal part of beach life here in Texas. They’ve been washing ashore for hundreds of years and were even used by the Karankawa Indians to waterproof baskets and pottery. For more information and what to do if you notice an unusual number of tarballs washing ashore, check out NOAA.
  • Microbial Life – Microbes keep our oceans healthy and are always present in the water. For the most up-to-date water quality information, check Texas Beach Watch water advisory page. The Texas General Land Office works diligently to keep the public informed about the safety of our beaches!
  • Sea Beans – Sea beans are parts of a category of plants called salicornia and grow salt marshes, beaches and in mangroves and are found in several oceans. One of their many nicknames is sea beans. There are so many varieties, it’s hard to describe them all. Some can be eaten (but we prefer that you don’t!) while others have unique shapes like hearts and hamburgers and can be polished and made into jewelry. Find out more about seabeans and their many uses here: and check out the photo gallery of sea beans on the: Texas Parks and Wildlife site.


Sharks are an essential part of a healthy ocean ecosystem. While you may see sharks in the waters around Galveston, they are unlikely to be dangerous. The Texas coast is one of the safest waterfronts in this regard - in more than 100 years there have only been 17 shark bites here in Galveston. Safety is the highest priority and there are some precautions that can be taken to help avoid sharks:

  • Steer clear of schools of fish (these are often a food source for sharks)
  • Stay out of the water if you are actively bleeding
  • Never try to touch a shark and leave the water immediately if sharks are sighted
  • Avoid dawn, dusk, and nighttime swimming
  • Don’t swim where fishing is taking place
  • Swim in a group
  • Leave shiny jewelry and watches at home (or at least out of the water) and don’t wear high contrast swimwear


Alligator populations in Texas were once in dangerous decline but careful work by conservationists and wildlife experts has made repopulation efforts successful. Unusual conditions -- like periods of heavy rain -- mean that you may come across an alligator in Galveston, if they’ve traveled downriver. Follow these tips to help stay safe around alligators:

  • Never feed alligators
  • Don’t approach, attempt to touch, or attempt to move alligators
  • Never disturb nests or small alligators and never attempt to take one as a pet
  • Keep your pets and children away from alligators
  • Swim in groups and avoid known alligator habitats
  • Alligators do not want to be cornered or crowded

Want to know more? Learn about alligators and find more safety tips.

Safe Swimming

Our warm ocean waters welcome swimmers and we want to make sure safety is everyone’s top priority. Here are some tips for safe and fun swimming:

  • Check beach conditions and sea stuff before swimming
  • Survey swimming area for potential dangers
  • Always have a buddy or a group
  • Know your swimming level and the ability of those you’re swimming with
  • Never dive in shallow water or water of unknown depth
  • Stay alert
  • Learn how to swim out of rip currents
  • Pay close attention to children and inexperienced swimmers
  • Swim sober

Safe Boating

We welcome boaters to our beautiful waters! Remember that safe boating practices protect you, fellow boaters, and the environment.

Find area public boat launches here: Texas Public Boat Launches

For boater education and boating laws, check with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. TPWD also has general water safety tips for you! The U.S. Coast Guard also offers general boating safety for all.

Safe Fishing

We’ve got great fishing spots! Make sure you stay safe, protect the environment, and ensure fishing for many years to come by following basic safety precautions and adhering to fish and wildlife regulations, which includes purchasing a fishing license.

Find safe fishing tips here and here.

Looking for a public pier for fishing? Click here

The TPWD also stays on top of fish consumption bans and advisories. Make sure you check THIS PAGE before consuming any fish!

Learn More