Everything is bigger in Texas, including vacations at Jamaica Beach. Embrace the excitement of the beach, feel the breeze off the Gulf of Mexico, and soak up some of that big old Texas sun. Immerse yourself in beach living: swim, fish, picnic, paddle, or surf. Or you can hit over-the-top amusement parks, tour mansions, museums, and aquariums, or dive to explore a replica of a wooly mammoth. No matter what you choose to do, here’s a list of nine of the best Jamaica Beach vacation rental locations.

1. Jamaica Beach, Texas

jamaica beach

Whether it’s your annual vacation or a weekend getaway, Jamaica Beach supplies enough sun, sand, and surf to give your family plenty to do. Step off your doorstep and hit the beach running all the way to the warm, inviting waves for a refreshing swim, or simply relax in your lounge chair while the kids splash around learning to catch the waves on their boogie boards.

2. Freeport, Texas

bird

If birding is your passion, follow it to Freeport, where you can stay between two significant shorebird sites: Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge and San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Take your binoculars to look for the Northern Shoveler, the Blue-Winged Teal, and the Caracara, among more than 400 species that winter and nest in the refuges. The refuge websites offer printable guides for children to help them search and identify these and other species of birds and mammals.

3. East End of Galveston

galveston amusement

Fido is ready for a beach vacation too, and he’s welcome in Galveston where you can find pet-friendly accommodations. There’s also a leash-free dog park on the waterfront. Enjoy the Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and carousel with the kids at the famous Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park. It’s really something to see after dark when the brilliantly colored lights reflect off the water. Change the pace with a tour of the restored 1895 Moody Mansion or the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, also known as Gresham’s Castle.

4. West End of Galveston

galveston waterpark
Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s time to put a million miles between you and your stress, and the waterpark at the west end of Galveston holds your ticket to wet-and-wild adventures. Whether you stay on the waterfront or on the bay, all of the local parks and activities are just minutes away. Watch the kids’ faces light up when they enter the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, which features 19 types of rides and 18 thrill levels, mixed and matched for ages preschool through adult. Enjoy heated pools, slides, zip lines, and much more.

5. Tiki Island, Texas

penguin

Escape to an island to get away from the daily grind — Tiki Island, that is. It’s so refreshing to make this the epicenter of your vacation adventures, starting with magnificent Moody Gardens, just 8 miles away, in Galveston. The complex features huge pyramids that house the attractions. The aquarium includes penguins, whales, dolphins, and many species of fish. Experience an interactive adventure with rainforest plants and animals, including giant Amazon river otters and Saki monkeys. Enjoy 3-D and 4-D theaters, a water park, zip line adventures, dinosaurs, and golf.

6. Bolivar Peninsula, Texas

bolivar lighthouse
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Picture yourself stepping out on a deserted beach at dawn; cool damp sand yields to your steps as you stroll along the edge of the water. All you hear is the sound of the waves breaking just feet away. The walk soothes your jangled nerves and puts you in the mood for an exciting day reconnecting with your family. Your first stop is the Point Bolivar Light, built in 1872 and retired in 1933. It is said to be haunted. How about roasting some marshmallows over the fire pit in your backyard near the beach and discussing it after dark?

7. Hitchcock, Texas

kayak boats

Hitchcock fronts West Bay and includes Highland Bayou. Make this your vacation rental spot to enjoy access to freshwater and saltwater adventures. Check out Paddle Monkeys to rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for bayou fun where the water is calm, and the kids can aspire to master the paddles. Rentals include paddles, life jackets, and safety information for any kind of equipment you want to try. You can get in some saltwater fishing off the public pier just before crossing the Galveston Causeway, and the adjoining bait-and-tackle shop has all the equipment you need.

8. Oyster Creek, Texas

muddybones
Source: Flickr/muddybones

Life in Oyster Creek ticks along at its own charming space, inviting you to make it your vacation destination. Find peace and solitude walking along the banks of Oyster Creek, Jones Creek, or Ridge Slough. Wet a hook if the mood strikes to catch some largemouth bass for dinner. Help your little anglers learn to cast their lines, watch their corks, and reel in some crappies. If you have a notion to build sand castles with the kids, swim, or work on a tan, you can get to the beach in less than 10 minutes.

9. Clute, Texas

water surfing

Clute claims some interesting history centering on the discovery of a mammoth named Asiel. Book your vacation rental here to experience the Asiel restaurant and museum, along with several other local museums of natural history to view exciting exhibits and learn the history of the area. You can drive to Port Freeport and area beaches within five minutes to enjoy all the kite surfing, swimming, and beach fun you can stand.