The board cutting through crystal-clear waters. The breeze lifting the kite, pulling the board faster and faster through the surf. White sand beaches becoming a blur. These are perhaps some of the sensations that prompted Michael Percy to sell his windsurfing gear in 1999, and throw himself into kiteboarding as the founder of Houston Kiteboarding . Today, he and his experienced staff lead hands-on lessons and product demonstrations in kiteboarding, kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and landboarding in the Gulf of Mexico.
As they introduce safety and basic on-water skills, instructors ride side-by-side with students?assisting them when they step onto the board, feel the breeze lift their trainer kites, and give a seagull family the right of way for the first time. Instructors take more experienced riders tanker surfing in Galveston Bay, and on stand-up paddleboard tours through the calm waters and bird sanctuaries of Dollar Bay and Texas City's Levee area. For those who want to strike out on their own, staff also rent and sell stand-up paddleboards and kiteboards by makers such as Cabrinha, Litewave, and Shinn. To accompany these, they provide wares ranging from GoPro HD digital cameras to riding accessories to kites.
Appearances on ESPN?s Redfish Cup and the Gulf Coast Troutmaster circuit are only a sample of the multifarious accolades that dot Captain Steve Auld?s resum?. A paramedic, licensed US Coast Guard captain, and professional angler, Steve is also the owner of Bay Adventures Sportfishing, where he leads as many as 200 fishing trips per year. Armed with included gear, fishing groups set out on Galveston Bay?s salty waters in search of catches such as speckled trout, redfish, and flounder. Groups are also privy to Steve?s special instruction and secrets garnered from years of professional experience, ensuring they don?t make newbie mistakes such as getting too attached to a fish and eloping with it. In addition to his Galveston Bay jaunts, Steve also leads specialty trips such as flounder gigging and guided duck and dove hunts in Mexico.
The boating experts at Carefree Boat Club empower their members to explore the region’s waterways at the helm of like-new, professionally maintained water vessels. Safety is paramount, so before club members can take the helm, they must attend a classroom training session and two on-the-water training sessions with Carefree Boat Club’s dock master. During these sessions, they learn navigation, docking, and boat safety. After receiving their safety certificates, members gain access to the fleet of deck boats, fishing boats, sailboats, pontoons, cruisers, and watersports boats. The club’s dock staff also holds the water vessels themselves to high safety standards. They inspect boats weekly using a 50-point safety checklist, and outfit boats with safety equipment such as flares, horns, flotation devices, and earplugs for blocking out siren songs.
The sun reflects off the chassis of a crimson Cobra as its engine lets out a declarative roar. Suddenly, gears shift and the driver makes their way onto the track. At Racing Adventures, thrilling moments are a normal occurrence as instructors show visitors how to handle vintage racecars and exotic sports vehicles from the inside of the cockpit. In two models of American muscle cars, a Porsche 911, or a Carrera, guests taste the adrenaline rush of high-performance driving during full-day racing adventures, laps around racetracks, or excursions on skill-testing roads in Arizona and Colorado.
Racing Adventures’ team also educates thrill-seekers in more aggressive styles of driving in its school. After outfitting students with suits and helmets, instructors demonstrate the basic principles and advanced techniques of racing before letting students practice on a real racetrack. Students can take the wheel of a Cobra, Corvette, or Porsche during three levels of driving experiences, and graduates of the program earn a certificate of achievement.
Feet patter across three information-packed floors stacked inside the Ocean Star, a former drilling rig that spends its retirement as a museum and education center on Galveston's Pier 19. After two decades drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the rig has since been revamped and outfitted with interactive models and displays that illustrate the story of offshore oil, gas, and the energies that lurk beneath the world's oceans. Visitors can tap into videos for explanations of drilling, geology, and seismic topics, or stand next to scale models of production platforms. In addition to its lineup of eye-popping sites, Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center harbors ongoing exhibits showcasing the industry's careers, history, and safety measures. Self-guided tours seven days a week enable guests to explore the rig's nooks at their own pace, while an onboard staff stands by to answer questions and courteously laugh at all petroleum-related knock-knock jokes.
The ghastly guides of Ghost Tours Texas lead groups of foolhardy interlopers on story-filled journeys past the spectrally inhabited landmarks of Galveston and Houston Heights. On the Galveston tour, a knowledgeable leader takes parties through the Silk Stocking District to visit the 1858 Ashton Villa mansion, whose second floor is occupied by the phantom “Miss Betty” Brown, and whose basement is occupied by a man who years ago forgot how to work a doorknob. The guide also divulges tales told from eyewitness accounts.
The Houston Heights tour winds through the area's historical and opulent homes, exploring such mysteries as the story of the Dean Correl murders and the children who are said to still haunt the alleyways of Houston Heights. Guides weave tales of ghostly possessions and evil voodoo dolls peppered with real-life testimonies from local residents.