Sunday, August 22, 2010


Another grand trip to Surfside Beach Texas, so many wonderful photos, news of special happenings and great new people to introduce.  Many interesting and informative sections will be added to the site.
In the meantime, stay in touch with the everyday happenings at beautiful Surfside Beach by joining in with the over 6000 others in one or both of our Surfside Facebook pages. Click Facebook 1 or Facebook 2 to join in the fun, share thoughts, photos and keep informed about upcoming events.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Travel along with our family to the enchanting magical shores of a little known Texas treasure. Through photos and narratives explore with us her wave kissed beaches, curious shops, island restaurants, diverse lodging, her interesting history and colorful residents.  Click on photos to enlarge and click highlighted text to open link.  After uncovering her charms, don't just envision yourself lazing on the cushiony warm sand of her beaches or in the soothing tide of her waters, but make plans for your own magical family getaway to one of nature's finest.

Nestled beside the alluring Texas coastline, just a 55 minute drive south of Houston and located in the ultimate playground of the Gulf of Mexico rests a small unpretentious island. Shadowed by her glamorous big brother Galveston and linked hand in hand via the San Luis Pass Bridge is Follett’s Island. On the southern tip of this most wonderful of Texas coastal treasures is a rare hidden jewel, the most awesome Village of Surfside Beach. This paradise of nature's best is separated from land by the San Luis Pass, Christmas Bay, the Intercoastal Canal, the mouth of the famous Brazos River and the magical waters of the Gulf.

Four generations of our family have lovingly called this area our second home and three generations travel together to Surfside on a regular basis for the ultimate relaxation fix; hence, we have decided to share our thoughts, photographic images and boast the attributes of this spectacular coastal getaway with those who call her home, anyone seeking a special vacation retreat, or just those who have shared in her beauty at one time or the other. We are the families of Eric Younkin Sr. and Eric Younkin Jr.and we all live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Eric Younkin Jr. is a talented and skilled professional photographer, who along with his parents, wife and children unabashedly love the Village of Surfside Beach, Texas and her people.

Nowadays, 3 generations of Younkins travel to Surfside at least once a year and more often when possible. It is has been jokingly alluded to that Eric Jr. may have been conceived somewhere around the Octagon * Photos (an area Eric Sr. surfed in the 60’s) or underneath Sam’s Pier, which is now only a skeleton of what it once was. Either way, we figure that may be why Eric Jr. is drawn to the island and feels so at peace when there.

Our motivation for this blogspot/web page is to connect people with what we believe is one of the richest areas of Texas and the Gulf Coast in charm, wildlife, sea creatures, adventure and even history, not to mention the friendliest locals anywhere. We will paint a picture of this unassuming paradise with photos, descriptions of the island and information on any businesses of interest.

Feel free to contact us via Email with questions regarding Surfside or anything posted on this site, you will receive a timely, honest and unbiased response. Whether you are a resident or vacationer, please alert us of any events, interesting vacation stories or new business openings. Also, please forward to us any photo files you wish to share. Although we live in the DFW Metroplex and the bulk of Eric Jr's

Eric Younkin Jr.

work is concentrated mainly in this area, he has contracted photographic work with local merchants, vendors and rental owners in Surfside and hopes to spend more time doing so in the future. You may view some of this work at Eric Younkin Photography and Premiere Phototography Studio where his talents have blended. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you feel there is a photographic need that may benefit your business, vacation rental, commercial sales or event.

A year ago in late August of 2008 our family returned home after a two-week vacation at Surfside Beach.

We left our stay on the beach just days before Hurricane Ike trounced the upper Gulf Coast with a vicious combination of devastating winds and storm surges that had not been felt in decades. We were horrified as we watched live from the safety of our home, some 300 miles away, this vicious storm engulfing our magical island and wreaking havoc on her infrastructure and her people. We had no doubt that the end was in sight, Surfside Beach was gone and rebuilding would be an impossible task. Her population would move further inland to avoid future catastrophe and this paradise would be lost for future generations.

How wrong we were, not only had we not considered the incredible love of Surfsidians for their village but we had also neglected to factor in that Godly law of sowing and reaping. The people of Surfside plant good seed and the summer of 2009 told the tale after 9 months of prayer, planning, rebuilding and diligence. From all accounts every vendor, business owner, merchant and investor spoke of soaring profits and enthusiastic crowds. The beaches were teaming with families, surfers, fisherman, jet skis and partygoers.

The terrain on the beaches had changed its face and to our amazement for the better. The dunes were being renewed and vegetation was already returning.

The beaches were whiter and the Gulf was as clear as we have ever known it. Surfside was not patched and struggling, she was actually healing magnificently from the wounds of a catastrophic hurricane.

Numerous businesses not on the island prior to Ike were newly opened and flourishing.  Landmarks like the most awesome Kitty’s Purple Cow, which was totally destroyed, have been faithfully rebuilt. Nowadays at the Cow you will find Miss Kitty holding court to throngs of faithful locals, hungry travelers and laid back vacationers

The Village of Surfside Beach begrudgingly exists in the 21st century. She is a unique, quiet, laid back, charming town, but upon arrival you may find your senses suggesting you have slipped back in time, oh, say to around the 1950's. You ask yourself "Have I just entered the Twilight Zone" but the answer is no, the Village of Surfside Beach is very easily accessed by sea, air or land, a time machine is not necessary. Once on the island, there is one road that takes you to within a stones throw of any destination, that road is Bluewater Highway. This well maintained 2-lane blacktop has been painstakingly renewed after Hurricane Ike and is in perfect repair.

Bluewater Highway stretches 10 miles from the core of Surfside up to the San Luis Pass' $2 toll bridge, this fee depends on whether the booth attended (for years we have seen the same elderly gentleman collecting fees from behind the frosty glass). Every time we cross the Pass and the tollbooth is not manned we chuckle and think of an article a friend emailed recently, you may also find it funny (link to article).

Surfside is only 2.2 square miles in size, with 20% of that being water, so you won't get lost here. Now, let me attempt to paint a picture in your mind's eye of how we relate to Surside and the island by segmenting her from the southernmost area the heavily fished Jetties (the tongue of the island), to the northernmost part of the city, which are the posts that divide middle beach

from county beach. The island's tail, which is 8 miles from where the Village of Surfside ends and county beach begins, is the San Luis Pass Bridge. Let us liken Follett's Island to an eel sliding down the coast in a Southwesterly direction towards Mexico, Surfside (the head) being closest to the border. Entering this Island from the Surfside end is accomplished via State Highway 332 over the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge.

The view from atop the bridge looking down onto this quaint Village, it's coastline and the Gulf of Mexico, is to us, as wondrous and magical as any spot in Texas. Some of the reasoning for this is that at one moment you are passing small colorful bait shops, fish markets, flat coastal marshy waterways lined with net fisherman and crabbers, then you top the bridge and your senses are smacked with wonder. Without notice you find yourself directly above the Intercoastal Waterway and the fresh clean salty seaside aroma of the Gulf of Mexico wafts through your car. Directly below the bridge appear painted tugs, massive barges, curious ships, party boats and busy marinas.

Before you are able to draw a second breath your attention is immediately diverted to the magical picturesque scene on the ocean side of the bridge as the Village of Surfside Beach comes in to full view.

The symmetry of the canals, colorful beach homes built on pylons, wave rippled serpentine coastline and the awesome blue and green Gulf of Mexico, it's too much to take in at once, you want to stop on the apex of the bridge and gather your thoughts...but don't, there are others sneaking up behind you and soaking in the magic.

No matter how many times we cross that bridge into Surfside, we will always do so in unbelievable wonder of God's Handiwork.

Before heading on to the island, we thought this would be a good spot to interject a bit of history along with some photos and depictions that may surprise most everyone, even some of the old timers in Surfside. The Village of Surfside Beach and Freeport to the northeast have long been associated with many names over the last 180 years, Velasco, Old Velasco, Surfside, Surfside Beach and Freeport. Whatever moniker you place on our beloved Surfside, there is loads of history here. Surfside's great growths came from her amazing location as a beach retreat that rests alongside a busy port of entry whose natural geography creates an amazing location for beachgoers, wildlife enthusiasts, sports fishermen, surfers, adventurers and all those seeking quality leisure time. Surfside's untimely declines in the past have occurred after natural disasters combined with a lack of confidence and dedication to rebuild. We believe Surfside is awakening, her people see what can be accomplished in a short time with some support, the right attitude and diligence. History could have repeated itself after Hurricane Ike but it is extremely obvious that will not happen. Below is an architects rendering of the hotel that existed on Surfside Beach in the 1890's and was destroyed by the storm of 1900. Surfsidians rebounded and in the early 1900's resurrected another grand hotel on her shores, three of those photos are also shown below. We post these because we believe that Surfside and her people deserve the best and should have it once again, look at these old photos with great expectations for the future. Please note they can be enlarged by clicking on the image.

Once over the bridge and back on land, you will find the only traffic light in Surfside. One hundred yards before this intersection and on the right you will encounter a bright yellow building, this is Beach Resort Services (409 E. Highway 332), they handle beach house rentals that will accommodate parties of 1 to 35.  Now remember, you are still on Highway 332 as you approach the intersection, Ft. Velasco Drive is to the right, Bluewater Highway to the left and the beginning of middle beach is 1 block straight ahead to the left, pedestrian beach to the left.  This intersection is truly the hub of the city and the most active area for motor traffic and light business. Click here for map  At this juncture you find Breaker Sports (405 E. Highway 332) on the first corner right (surf rentals, kayaks, beach clothing, souvenirs).

Mayor Larry Davison the owner and operator can generally be found inside, either busy behind the counter, on the phone with city business, or relaxing in an old recliner next to the surfboards. Larry is a font of information regarding the Village, so drop in and say Hi. On the next corner past Breakers on Ft. Velasco is Valero Corner Store, a busy gas station/convenience store frequented by locals and vacationers alike. From the intersection you can see Hammerhead Bar and Burger (10 Surf Dr.) directly behind Valeros. Highway 332 dumps straight into the Gulf  1 block after passing Surf Drive.  Hammerhead's is frequented by all manner of beachgoers, bikers and travelers. They have a full service bar and grill that provides the usual fare, burgers, sodas, cold beer, mixed drinks and good air conditioning. They provide live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays, a fun place, drop in and have a look see at the Hammerhead Shark above the bar. To the left of the intersection are wetlands, beach and bay homes, realtors, restaurants and beach rental equipment. Let's take a look to the right, which is the head of the island. This area holds most of Surfside's permanent residents, many interesting and brightly colored beach homes, City Hall (a site close to the old Fort Velasco), the Volunteer Fire Department, Police, marinas, Jetty Park, the Jetties,  Pedestrian Beach (no vehicles allowed) and one of the oldest establishments on the island, the original Surfside dive, The Jetty Shack (412 Parkview). This infamous hang-out is home to their most awesome Jetty Burger and the Annual Jetty Shack Open Fishing Tournament, which benefits the city and county. Stop in, play some darts, drink an ice-cold beer, pet Corona, and chat with the locals, no tellin' what you tall fish tales you might hear.

Now head toward the Gulf on Parkview from The Jetty Shack and within 1/4 mile you will come to streets end. You are now directly beside one of the better known sport fishing spots in Texas, the Surfside Jetty. Not only is this picturesque fishing arena well admired for the countless types and sizes of aquatic inhabitants that are angled out daily but it is also one of the most hyped areas for surfing on the Texas Coast. If you have young ones, the Jetty Park is also here, swings,  picnic areas with barbecue pits, shade trees and water inlets for crabbing. Large speckled granite slabs married to a  concrete walkway reach out from the park into the Gulf waters as if beckoning a far away ancient pirate ship .

On the Jetty you will find all manner of humankind, serious fisherman (some will share their secrets), brightly clad Asian anglers with pointy hats, wide eyed youngsters with their families and eager newbie fisherman screaming every time a dolphin pops the surface. Pleasure boats, tugs, barges and monstrous tankers of countless shapes, sizes, colors, and origins cut a magical path through the jetties as they pass almost within casting distance. 

Surfers are also seen in throngs, the combination of natural and man made contributions to the shoreline create a desirable effect for great wave action when the proper conditions prevail.  The Jetty is sometimes used as a launching pad for seaoned surfers who are seeking a closer perch to their favorite break or a stab at riding the plowing wake of gigantic tankers powering their way in between the long stony fingers of the Jettys. Make sure you check it out, the photographic opportunities are unlimited, from the excitement on the Jetty to the balancing acts of the dedicated surfers as they glide upon sun glistened cresting waves.

Let's travel 2 short blocks back to Ft. Velasco Dr. and then toward Bluewater Highway. On your right one block before the traffic signal is Castaway Bar and Grill (111 Ft. Velasco), one of the older and more popular entertainment spots in the city. You can find it all here, great live bands, pool tournaments, karaoke night, full bar, grill, video games, local patrons, vacationers and partygoers alike. Super vibe, sure worth the stop.

Almost directly across the street is one multi-happening shop that has certainly kept it real for many years. You will not find in this city a more intriguing conglomeration of Surfside memorabilia, beachwear, surfboards and everything in between, step back into the 1960's, step into Bingo's Surfboards (18 Ft. Velasco). Look for the Hawaiian shirt and the gray ponytail, that would be Bing Cosby, the owner, operator and alpha and omega to many in the art of surfing. Bing is a spiritual man and a survivor, you can engage him in conversation easily, but watch out, he may wax philosophical. If you are over 50 you will leave Bing's expecting to encounter boisterous, deep tanned teenagers without a care in the world behind the steering wheel of a cool panel wagon or a brightly painted VW gently cradling their prized possession. No, not their favorite beach bunny, that would be their custom longboard, which by the way Bing still hand crafts and repairs on site. This is another must stop for adult and kid alike, take your time, wander around, grab a soda and burger at Bing's grill, you will not leave disappointed.

Now, before passing on through the intersection and to our next interesting stop, let us pause a moment and ponder the whimsical debate that was sparked recently while our families were shopping in Surfside. Finding ourselves in dire need of portable shade (hats), Maggie (Eric Jr.'s wife) and Gramps (Eric Sr.) were caught by a sneaky photographer striking poses while making questionable decisions on cranial attire.  Please break our tie vote, who actually looks prettier in pink???

WARNING: This could be you after too much surf and sand in Surfside

Leaving Bingo's we enter Ft. Velasco Dr., turn left and pass once again through the only traffic light in town. In my estimation we have just left the heart of Follett's Island, Surfside's history and origin. Here Ft. Velasco Dr. becomes Bluewater Highway and for the next 10 miles is the aorta, the deliverer of life to the island. To your right you will see a myriad of interesting beach houses and on your left you will spot canal homes sitting directly off the intercoastal waterway.

Within several blocks and on your right is the first business of note,  Brannan Realty (246 Bluewater Highway), a one-stop source for Surfside Beach and area real estate services. At the same location is Brannan Resort Rentals, they have been providing vacation rentals at Surfside Beach Texas for over 40 years. At this single location you may visit with experienced agents who have expertise in beach rentals, real estate buying, selling, relocation and mortgage information.

Two blocks up the road and once again to your right is the fabulous and Ooh so delicious Red Snapper Inn (402 Bluewater Highway). To locals, travelers and vacationers, this is the premiere stop for culinary delights. I personally, would rather relax and feast here than Galveston's Gaidos or any of the other would be greats in surrounding counties. On any given evening you will find smiling faces from residents of Houston and Galveston relishing the tasty, freshly prepared seafood and other delictables. The Red Snapper Inn was established in 1987 by Ivan Stathopoulos as a seasonal restaurant to serve summer tourists and in 1991 Ivan's son-in-law, Owner/Chef, Lin Biar, brought his Louisiana inspired seafood favorites to a burgeoning year round operation. Ivan became sole owner in 2007 and now boasts his establishment as a beacon of light for all seafood enthusiasts seeking a divine dining experience featuring, blue crab, red snapper, flounder and shrimp, all from the Gulf. Check out his menu and start making plans for a visit and when there, tell Lin Eric sent you.

Another couple of blocks finds us at the intersection of Bluewater and Ocean Avenue. Why does everyone get this feeling, "for some reason I need to pull over, park, get out and go inside".  Is it the whimsical demeanor of the purple cow on the hand painted sign or the magnetic pull of the perennial popular, positively perfect and properly placed position of Kitty's Purple Cow. Yeah, I get it, enough said, you already know I feel, guess I have fallen helplessly under the purple spell.

Okay, after passing "The Cow" and immediately on the right you will find the aged alchemy and brewers potions of Surfside Liquor (430 Bluewater Highway). This home owned and operated liquor store takes pride in offering the best selection of beers, wines, and spirits in the area, plus an assortment of beach supplies, entertainment and party accessories.

About a mile down the road, and believe it or not on the left, is the city owned and well maintained public crabbing pier. There is plenty of parking and elbow room for any number of crustacean loving crabbers along the long wooden walkways built over the marshy waters of Swan Lake. So, when conditions are right, show up with your chicken necks, crab lines and nets, you will not leave disappointed, the only thing lacking here is shade, so dress accordingly.

Directly across the street once stood Stahlman Park until Ike visited in September 2008. For many years this building and park generated revenue from rentals to the public, organized groups and corporate entities. Our understanding is that there are plans hatching for a great new park with many wonderful improvements. Keep your eyes on this area and watch for progress, maybe we will see her rebirth in the summer of 2010.

Another short drive and again on the left is the only other convenience type store on the island near Surfside. At 2703 Bluewater Highway you will pass Perry's Store, family owned, operated and definitely not your typical quick-stop operation.  Perry's is truly unique with a charm all it's own, I would call Perrys the poor man's Buc-ees, in here you will find everything from art to zig-zags.  Never too crowded, if you see the guard gates slid open from the windows and door, stop in, they conduct business all summer and on holidays.

At this point we have not quite traveled halfway up the island. For the remainder of this trek, which will end at San Luis Pass and Treasure Island, you will be seeing on your right beach homes dotting the gulf side and on your left bay houses speckling the wildlife populated shores of Drum and Christmas Bay. On our families next trip to the island we will be adding video of the drive from Surfside to San Luis Pass. 

Even though we are now several miles outside of Surfside, I would be remiss not to mention Christmas Bay, a favorite spot for sport fishermen, kayakers, boaters, bird watchers and organized expeditions to the surrounding areas. Look for Amigo Lane on your left and turn in, you can always find well informed visitors to the bay, a place to launch your boat and possibly there are still RV hook ups at the old Ernies on the left.

Just a few miles from arriving at the Pass, you will see rising from the shore on your right, four 3 story buildings. These are the Peregrine Townhomes, a "time share" resort that is heavy in the process of rebuilding after Hurricane Ike dealt them a tremendous blow. We wish them Godpeed and the best of times in their reopening.

Just a few miles more and you are at the tail of Follett's Island and approximately 10 miles from Surfside. We have arrived at the end, we are now in  San Luis Pass, also known as Treasure Island, a small healthy municipality of approximately 25 full time residents and many more who frequent their homes during the year. There are quite a few visitors to this side of the island during the summer months, mostly those who like its proximity to the Pass but also those who prefer to be closer to the touristy core and bright lights of the seawall end of Galveston, about 30 minutes away. You will see quite a few beach homes in Treasure Island some on the Gulf side, many on the rocky side of the Pass as it enters the cut and just as many on the beachy, well fished banks of the Pass. For many years the most visible and well-known spot in the vicinity was the San Luis Pass Fishing Pier, a highly active destination year round for those seeking an afternoon or evening of great fishing; unfortunately for those that enjoyed this wonderful pier, they are now left with only fond memroies.  When Hurricane Ike passed ravenously through last September not much was left in his wake but a raggidy skeleton.  Certainly the mainstay of Treasure Island is The Brite Light, a bait and tackle shop more akin to a general store serving residents and vacationers. Standing for over 30 years, this place of business also substitutes as headquarters for community and civic meetings.  You will like what you find here, the beer is cold, the talk is friendly and there is always someone hanging around that is willing to update you on any fishing news.

Just had to add this photo sent to us by Captain Mike Jennings from Rig Runners Sportfishing Charters. If you think this is an unusually good day, just stop in at Bridge Bait about 1700 hours and watch boat after boat, captained by the best on the coast, dock and unload their catch into wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.

Sport fishing is big business and bigger fun, if you have never traveled offshore for the big ones, do it the first chance you get and do it from Surfside. Check out the "Photos Sent To Us" link for more fun.

This site is a work in progress and is being updated frequently.   If you wish to add a link to this page, information regarding your business or event, vacation photos or just inquire about Surfside please email us.  If you enjoyed our information on Surfside or we have already linked you on our site we hope that you will reciprocate by adding a link to us at your web presence.  All inquiries will be answered promptly...Eric Sr.

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