Rockport is chock full of trails, great restaurants, parks, museums and places to explore on foot or bike. You just can’t ignore the prime waterfront location however and experiencing the area by boat is a must-do for most folks.
The rich aquatic ecosystem, abundant access and ability to take your own boat or hire a tour makes Rockport a prime location for water lovers. Getting out on the water makes it possible to view more birds and wildlife in the water and on the shoreline. You can also see the aquatic species and even catch them by using a boat. There is really just something special about being on the water with a motorized, wind powered or human powered craft and Rockport has the perfect location for water lovers looking to get out on the bay.
Kayaking and SUP’s
A small, paddle powered boat puts you directly in the middle of everything without making a peep. Kayaks and SUP’s are quiet, peaceful and they are perfect for exploring Aransas Bay. Hit the water in the early morning or evening for an especially peaceful experience on calm waters. This is one of the better ways to approach bird watching from the water. You can get close without spooking the birds and sending them flying in the opposite direction. It’s also a great approach to fishing Aransas Bay as many of the fish feed in shallow waters. The shallow draft on a kayak or SUP puts you in waters that are very difficult to access with a larger, motorized boat.
You can bring along your own kayak or SUP or rent one. The Little Bay Marine has a boat rental service and a kayak specific rental service is available in Rockport. Your best bet for advice, rentals and even guided trips is by making contact with the Rockport Kayak guide service. They live and breathe kayaking the area and have a wealth of knowledge and value to get you on the water.
Bird and Boat Tours
The same Rockport Kayak company offers bird tours via kayaks. A number of other birding tours are available as well. You can take a Whooping Crane and Coastal Birding Tour with Capt. Tommy at Rockport Adventures. They require a minimum of 15 people to send out the tour on a comfortable, large vessel that offers excellent viewing from a stable platform.
Heading out on a guided boat tour is a great idea. You get to spend your time looking and watching for birds without worrying about the navigation and direction. It’s a very low stress method of seeing the aquatic ecosystem while finding the rare bird species that frequent Rockport.
Dolphins are also around, calling the local waters home. Finding the dolphins however is not so easy. You can cruise around in a kayak and you might get lucky. Every so often they cruise within sight of the shorelines as well.
The most reliable method of viewing dolphins is from a boat with a captain that really knows their patterns. Capt. Tommy offers dolphin tours in conjunction with the whooping crane and bird tours. The opportunity to see both dolphins and cranes is a rare event anywhere and Rockport is among the few places where this is possible.
A 1-2 hour dolphin cruise around Aransas Bay is also available. This trip large revolves around the shrimp trawlers. As they work the bay and gather shrimp, the dolphins often gather to eat the displaced shrimp and other fish species drawn to the trawlers.
If you want to see dolphins in action, head out on a dolphin specific tour that focuses on the shrimp operations. Many of these tours run in smaller groups and are easy to book in advance or on the same day.
No boat? No problem. You can still hit the water. Aransas Bay has numerous great swimming holes. Rockport Beach is no secret and you can work on a sun tan, barbecue lunch and take a dip all in the same place. Drive the coastline however and it’s easy to spot bridges and roadside stops where the locals go to jump in the water.
If swimming in the saltwater doesn’t sound appealing, there are plenty of opportunities to jump in a local swimming pool. Several pools are open to the public and many hotels offer swimming as well.
Fishing in the Bay
If you’re headed out on a boat, consider bringing along a fishing pole. You can bring a rod on a kayak rental or charter a guide for a half or full day of fishing. Much of the fishing in Rockport is focused on the bays where redfish and speckled trout are abundant. You don’t need to head way out for these amazing sportfish as they work the nearshore waters, eating shrimp and local forage fish.
If you love the ocean and want to really get out, consider an off-shore fishing charter. You will drive out of the bay and onto the open ocean in search of sharks, dorado, billfish and all of the big game fish that cruise the ocean. This type of fishing is done with the most experienced boat captains and anglers in the region. You might run across the trophy of a lifetime while getting to experience the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Just the boat ride is worth the trip here and the fishing is world class.
Several off-shore operators are running trips year-round. The High Noon Sportfishing company runs a beautiful 48-ft. Viking that is truly a luxury watercraft. It’s hard to beat the level of comfort on this boat.
The Saltwater Cowboy is another charter service that runs all year. They have a diverse set of boats and trip options for both inshore and offshore. They also focus on duck hunting in the bay during the open season for migratory birds. Several other charter companies are running great trips from high quality boats as well. You won’t have a hard time finding a great service in Rockport. Always try planning ahead however to book your dates. Many of the captains book up quickly and fill their calendars.