Top Galveston To Caribbean Weekend Getaways

Cruise from the Southwest to the Western Caribbean

By Mary Luz Mejia | Published on March 31, 2023

Wear your comfiest shoes, y'all, because Caribbean weekend getaways from Galveston, Texas, are all about sightseeing before or after your cruise. This coastal resort city and port is located on the state's southeast coast on Galveston Island, just 45 miles from downtown Houston. With family-friendly attractions, Texas coastline beachcombing for miles, fishing off local piers and plenty of cultural activities and architectural marvels, Galveston has something for everyone!

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In the 19th century, Galveston was the largest and wealthiest city in the state. This explains why the city, named after Spanish governor Bernardo de Galvez, houses so many beautiful architectural mansions and gems. The city's seaport helped to make this a prosperous and politically important city. Today, Galveston is a popular spot for western Caribbean weekend getaways.
Caribbean weekend getaways are made all the more special when you take a few extra days to soak in Galveston's marvellous historic architecture before you sail off. The city's fifty-block, tree- and flower-lined East End Historical District is renowned for its stunning Victorian architecture. In the 19th century, the wealthy resided in the city's first residential neighborhood amid buttercream and pastel colored mansions, including the famous Moody Mansion and Bishop's Palace. While exploring, take a moment to admire the neighborhood's tree sculptures, which include everything from whimsical dolphins and dogs to geishas and guitars, crafted by artists using uprooted trees left over from Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Then, head downtown to the Strand, where you'll see a spate of historical styles and motifs including Neo-Renaissance, High Victorian, Greek Revival, Gothic, Beaux Art and Romanesque intermingle for a veritable feast for the eyes. You might notice oddities such as brick lined with stucco to resemble stone, interlaced with granite, cast iron and marble details to create these various period looks. Experts agree that Galveston's commitment to preserving its architectural gems while ensuring they are suitable for modern-day use and living is a truly remarkable feat. If shopping is on the to-do list, check out one of several quaint galleries, shops and boutiques while you're there. Then, end the day with a feast of some quintessentially southwestern cuisine like gumbo or shrimp and grits and look forward to the rest of your weekend trip ahead.

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Sail from Texas to the western Caribbean today on epic weekend getaways.

Dive Into Top-Rated Texan Beaches

Can't wait to hit the lush beaches of the Caribbean on your weekend vacation? You don't have to! Galveston has some of the most postcard-worthy beaches that will whet your appetite for all the tropical bliss awaiting during weekend getaway cruises to the western Caribbean.

If you're standing on Stewart Beach, Jamaica Beach, East Beach or Galveston Beach on your weekend trip, you're where Houstonians and other Texans flock when they want local sand and surf. Right in the center of town, you've got Galveston Beach that sits next to the 61st Fishing Pier. Pull up a chair and try your luck at reeling in some speckled trout, black or red drum fish, sand sea trout or flounder. More of a sandcastle person? Head over to East Beach on the northeastern end of the island and catch the AIA Sandcastle Competition where sixty teams compete for the coveted Golden Bucket Award every summer.

For those who prefer to be in or on the water, make your way to Pier 21 and prepare to get soaked with an adrenaline-pumping speed jet boat thrill ride replete with 90 degree turns, tricks and spins. If dolphin sighting is more your speed, you can take a boat ride on the Gulf of Mexico's Galveston Bay to spot bottlenose dolphins, the only species native to Texas. Galveston is the perfect jumping-off point to an epic cruise vacation.

Sail On To The Western Caribbean

Now that you've explored all that Galveston has to offer, it's time to enjoy your pick of Caribbean weekend getaways out of Texas with a cruise to the western Caribbean. On a short cruise, you'll stop in Cozumel, Mexico, or Puerto Costa Maya, where you'll be greeted by warm, crystalline waters, tropical reefs ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling and impressive Maya ruins. Divers and snorkelers should head to Chankanaab National Park to take in the riot of colorful tropical fish and reefs. Or head over to the Great Maya Reef, which stretches from Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula south to Honduras Bay. At almost 700 miles long, this is the Western Hemisphere's largest barrier reef (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef).

Then, soak up a laid-back afternoon and relax in the port village of Mahahual, where you can sip on a frosty michelada — a drink made with beer, lime juice and savory sauce that does wonders to cool you off in the tropical heat.

My biggest piece of advice for making your western Caribbean weekend vacation unforgettable is to go where the wind takes you.

Explore The Sights And Sands Of The Western Caribbean

Cruising in the Caribbean regions of the world means you have so much history and nature to discover. Start by trekking up the Maya ruins of Kohunlich on the Costa Maya to view the famous Temple of the Masks, which was built around A.D. 500. You'll notice six- to eight-feet tall sculpted masks around the lower side panels of the pyramid and a set of central stairs leading to upper level chambers. Climb to the top to get a close-up view of the intricate mask carvings and the jungle canopy surrounding the temple.

From Cozumel, island-hop to nearby Tulum or San Gervasio, where the largest ruins date back to about A.D. 300. Or visit the less touristy Ek Balam (meaning black jaguar in the Yucatec Maya language) near Tulum to behold the pyramid where Maya king Ukit Kan Lek Tok is buried in a tomb in the largest pyramid on the site.

As you explore these ancient sites, keep in mind all those who have come before you to really take in how special of an experience it is. When I walked the steep pyramid steps of what's called Structure 35 Sub at Ek Balam, I was taken aback by just how hot it was. Next to me climbing the stairs was a Mexican mother with her bundled infant, so I asked her in Spanish if she was okay. She smiled and said, "Of course. I'm sharing this amazing country's cultural legacies with my baby who will grow up proud to have been born here." My husband and I were honored she shared that with us, and duly impressed, as this climb is not easy. The exertion to get up and down these steps is not to be underestimated, but the sweeping views from the top make it well worth the sweat.

With just a few days in the western Caribbean, you need to indulge in all the sunshine, sand and surf that defines these destinations. Don't miss out on an opportunity to take in the sensory experience that is a cenote: a natural sinkhole that occurs when limestone bedrock collapses and exposes fresh groundwater. The ancient Maya used them for various purposes, including as a fresh water supply and, more spiritually, as a sort of gateway to the afterlife. These were treated as sacred places by the Maya, who performed various rituals in and around them. You can access a cenote on a guided tour, where you can truly experience these tranquil spots and take in the best of mother nature's majesty.

When I visited a cenote in the Riviera Maya, we walked through tropical jungle with a Mayan guide. Another two guides were waiting for us at the cenote's entrance, where we were given life vests and asked to wash off first to avoid contaminating the water with sun block and lotions. When we left, I heard rustling in the surrounding brush and one of the guides told us that a jaguar has been tracking us on our walk, which is a sign of luck. I like to think the spirit of the Maya were with us, and it was the perfect end to my western Caribbean getaway.

My biggest piece of advice for making western Caribbean vacations unforgettable — whether it's just a weekend or longer — is to go where the wind takes you. You're in one of the most beautiful places in the world, so embrace it and be prepared to see and do everything. From Texas to the Caribbean, adventure awaits.

Written By

Colombian-born, Canadian raised Mary Luz Mejia is a twice NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and Level II Certified Chocolate Taster. Her work has been published in Saveur Magazine, the Toronto Star, The Globe & Mail, The Latin Kitchen, Rodale's Organic Gardening and Toronto Life to name a few. Former Saveur Editor-In-Chief James Oseland calls her "One of Toronto's most passionate food journalists" and her personal goal is to master iconic Latin American dishes, one plate at a time. And por supuesto, se habla Español!

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