Spotlight on Bolivar

Photo by David Harris

David Harris is infatuated with Bolivar Peninsula. From the Midwest, Harris found his way down south and landed on Bolivar 21 years ago and became a fishing guide. After working 300 trips every year for 16 years, it was time for something new — Bolivar promotion.

“It’s so laid back,” said Harris. “Bolivar is an undiscovered gem. Where else in Texas can you drive golf carts, vehicles and camp right on the beach, and it’s populated enough to run to a restaurant or run to the store.”

So, Harris created the website that is all things Bolivar and includes everything about the community, businesses, events, where to eat, where to stay, plus has nine livestream webcams, including at Rollover Pass, Stingaree Bay and Fort Travis.

“My theory is, how many people can I get to come to Bolivar?” he said.

If you want to do something besides beaching, there’s golf, shopping, golf cart rentals, fishing, and the water slide at Fun Town Water Park.

For first timers visiting for the day, Harris suggests to visit Fort Travis Park and birding. Located at 900 State Highway 87 in Port Bolivar, Fort Travis was the first fort established by the Republic of Texas in 1836 to protect the Galveston harbor entrance. You can fish, enjoy a picnic, cook out, watch the ships roll by and enjoy the rich history.

The entire peninsula is part of the Great Coastal Birding Trail, which plays a vital role as a habitat for migrating birds. On the west end, check out the Houston Audubon Horseshoe Marsh and Bolivar Flats bird sanctuaries, and on the east end are the world-renowned Smith Oaks and Boy Scout Woods Bird Sanctuaries in High Island.

Harris also opened a Bolivar Tourism Center at 2275 Highway 87, Suite 10, Crystal Beach. It’s full of information, local artwork that’s for sale, maps, and a treasure hunt corner full of items that visitors have found on the beach.

Those who frequent Bolivar, or even newbies, should be on the lookout for the “Big Blue” live truck. If you see it, make sure you ask “What’s free today?” in exchange for goodies like koozies.

For visitors that are adventurous, you can join the weekly “Hunt for Bolivar” where the first person to find the hidden pink flamingo can win $100 cash. Every morning, beginning on Tuesdays around 7:30-8:30 a.m., Harris goes live on Facebook (Bolivar Peninsula Texas) from the beach and gives clues to find the pink flamingo. Some of the clues are also posted on the windows of the Tourism Center. The week leading into Labor Day Weekend, the “Hunt for Bolivar” becomes a mega-hunt with a prize of $550 cash.

Inside the popular Big Store at 2385 Highway 87 in Crystal Beach, Harris has a television studio where twice a week he will highlight local businesses. Harris said it’s the businesses and their support that help make promoting Bolivar possible.

And even though school is beginning to creep up, there are still some great weekends left to visit Bolivar with plenty to do and see.

The annual Golf Cart Poker Run is Saturday, Aug. 4, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Bring your cart and ride from Bamboo Beach Club to the Stingaree Restaurant. The event includes an auction with money raised going to local schools.

Speaking of the Stingaree, the restaurant also has live music every weekend and has booked popular Texas country act Reckless Kelly for Friday, Aug. 24.

Another popular get-together is the End of Summer Beach Party Trail-ride on Aug. 10-12. Bring your horse – yes, your horse – and even wagons are invited.

Further out on Oct. 27 is Brad and Big Rich’s Cajun Cook-Off. The third annual event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2:30 at the Stingaree Restaurant and Marina. Ten teams will compete for the best Seafood Gumbo, Chef’s Choice and Bloody Mary’s overlooking East Galveston Bay while listening to live Cajun music.

Harris said the draw to the area from Beaumont and Houston alone can support Bolivar, but a lot of people who own beach homes are also from the East Texas  area including Nacogdoches and Longview.

“We have most everything you need with no big chain stores, mostly family owned businesses where it’s the owner that opens in the morning and closes after the sun sets,” said Harris.

Whether it’s a night, week or for permanent residence, there are beach house vacation rentals at all price ranges, so make sure you check with Cobb Real Estate, and RV parks ready for you to hook up for your family get away.

“Time slips away when you are at Bolivar,” said Harris. “The sun comes up over the Gulf with an impressionable view like no other and sets over East Galveston Bay melting into the horizon. Once you’ve been here, you hate to leave and once you leave, you can’t wait to come back.”

And, yes, there is plenty of cell phone service.


Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor, Email cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com