As twilight falls over the battlefield, the inflatable bunkers and forts starting to fade in the darkness; the soldiers don't relent. The field's lights come on, suddenly illuminating the flat bermuda grass, and snipers continue battering their opponents. At Galveston Island Paintball, referees oversee skirmishes at two venues—the aforementioned X-ball field, which staffers reorganize on a monthly basis, or a rec-ball arena equipped with forts and spools. Catering to all levels of players, weekend drop-in sessions host a variety of action-packed scenarios as spectators watch from afar, supporting the war effort by drawing posters of old men angrily pointing at things. Outside the battles, an onsite shop equips with brand-name gear and occasional two-day clinics impart tips for safety, equipment maintenance, and playing fairly.
As tour-goers look on, the ghost-hunting historians at True History Paranormal Tours work paranormal recording devices during 2.5-hour walking tours through avenues of haunted history. Each excursion begins with a formal introduction to the staff's technical ghost-hunting implements, including electromagnetic-field readers and infrared high-definition video camcorders. Patrons are welcome to bring their own audio and video equipment, to add 10 pounds to other participants or subtract all pounds from spectral subjects. Once paranormal paparazzi have been briefed on documenting techniques, they follow the guides on a walking tour throughout the city, delving into historical events such as the city's role in the American Civil War and the devastation left behind by the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
Skydive Galveston connects wingless humans with their aerial ambitions, setting them aloft at up to 14,000 feet to swig freefall adrenaline and then sip on stunning ocean views while gliding softly toward the coastline. After a 30–60 minute safety session where jumpers suit up and get wise to the basics of parachuting, the free-falling party boards a Cessna 182 aircraft and sets course for the clouds. Twenty minutes and two vertical miles later, the pod bay door opens to release pairs of skydiving novices and instructors into a sea of air. Freefall lasts up to a full minute before your human backpack pulls the chute cord, releasing the canopy and slowing the 120-mph drop to a leisurely float.
Each spring, excitement starts to build along Galveston's coast like the crest of a giant wave. It can only mean one thing: Ohana Surf & Skate is hosting its annual Spring Surf Classic, during which some of the best boarders compete for aquatic glory. The surfers might even inspire others to pick up the sport. Aspiring riders won't have to look far for guidance.
The instructors at Ohana lead surf and skate lessons, as well as summer surf camps for kids 6–17 years old. Each morning, the waters of Galveston Island transform into classrooms where experienced surfers teach campers to balance atop boards, surf, and explore the Gulf of Mexico. Lessons go beyond riding waves; marine biologists often visit to teach students about aquatic life.
Besides these educational programs and special events, Ohana Surf & Skate's staff runs a retail store that looks straight out of Hawaii. A mural of palm trees and hula dancers covers one side of the exterior. Inside, patrons find surfboards, skateboard decks, clothing, and a wall of sandals big enough to replace an interior designer's supply of wallpaper.
The family that plays together stays together—an old adage that couldn’t be more true for owners Mike and Julie, now married more than 30 years. They took the courageous steps to change their unhealthy lifestyles by losing more than 20 pounds, a paradigm shift that inspired the couple to part ways with the corporate world and establish Beach Town Tours, their outdoor adventure company.
Now the pair, known to their customers as Mimi and Pops, encourage people to stay active with six kayaking tours and three bicycling tours. Knowledgeable guides take kayakers around Galveston Island, paddling along wetlands, islands, and waterfront homes while pointing out unique wildlife such as redfish and those flounder that sing and dispense sage advice to young merfolk.
Guests also can jump on a bike and follow tour guides in small groups to the Bolivar Ferry or through sections of Hurricane Ike–damaged trees that were revived by local artists armed with carving knives.