Kemah Boardwalk: Gateway to Galveston Bay

The town of Kemah in Texas is home to the third largest concentration of recreational boats in the US and has long been an idyll for generations of boaters looking to escape the state’s summer heat. Charlotte Niemiec invites Brad Grace, marina manager at 400-slip Kemah Boardwalk marina, to talk shop

Kemah Boardwalk is a 60-acre (24-ha) theme park situated on the Gulf Coast in Kemah, Texas, around 30 miles (48km) southeast of downtown Houston. Considered among the most impressive boardwalks in the US, the complex is owned and operated by leading hospitality company Landry’s and – in addition to its 400-slip marina – boasts thrilling rides, games, attractions, a boutique hotel, a charter yacht and multiple shops. Originally a small fishing town, Kemah is today a major tourist destination and the ideal location for visitors looking to spend a day on the water boating or fishing, or dining at one of the many fantastic waterfront restaurants. With a history steeped in the legend of pirate Jean Lafitte in the early 1800s, who developed Galveston as a base for his smuggling operations, local attractions include the Johnson Space Center, museums, a rainforest exhibit and stingray touch pool.
The marina, originally called Lafayette Landing Marina, was built in 1988. It was subsequently acquired by Landry’s in 2000, and renamed Kemah Boardwalk Marina. There are now over 30 marinas in the Galveston Bay area but, because of its location at the mouth of Clear Lake on the shores of Galveston Bay, Kemah is often called the ‘Gateway to the Bay’. Brad Grace explains its unique appeal is due to its “convenient and protected location on Galveston Bay, with deepwater slips and no bridge restrictions between us and open water – and within walking distance to dozens of restaurants, shopping, attractions and nightlife.”
“Our marina hospitality services offer more amenities and guest services than any other marina on the Texas Gulf Coast. Galveston Bay itself offers fantastic sailing activities and hosts weekly sailing races and larger sailing regattas each season,” he adds.
Grace started his career in the marina industry 30 years ago as a dockhand at a small family-owned marina in Northeast Florida. “I found I enjoyed working on the water, interacting with the guests and around boats, and the constantly changing dynamics of the job,” he says. “Over the years, I slowly worked my way from dockhand to assistant dockmaster, to dockmaster to marina general manager. I’ve had the opportunity to have worked and managed several marina properties over the years in Florida, the mid-Atlantic, New England, the Midwest and now the Texas Gulf Coast. I’m lucky enough to thoroughly enjoy my job and absolutely love experiencing what each new day brings.”
Among his short-term goals are to expand the marina’s hospitality services and guest experiences at Kemah and incorporate them into additional marina properties for Landry’s, and to continue to improve and add to those services for marina guests. “Our biggest challenge is continually coming up with new services to our marina hospitality offerings. I enjoy meeting and exceeding a marina guest’s expectations and assisting them in enjoying and maximising their valuable leisure time. A marina manager’s responsibilities are fluid and ever changing, which is a big part of the allure for me.”
Expansion and development plans
“We just completed the modification of B-Dock from 42ft (13m) monohull slips into one 450ft+ (137m+) alongside-tie dock to better accommodate the high demand for larger 50ft+ (15m+) catamarans (see Marina World, July/August 2022),” Grace says. “With most catamarans larger than 45ft (14m) unable to access most of the region’s marinas due to their mast heights and bridge restrictions, we decided to take advantage of our location on Galveston Bay to offer these larger yachts an ideal homeport for exploring the bay and the Texas Gulf coast. The additional alongside-tie dock will now offer catamaran owners a Texas homeport option instead of being forced to keep their yachts in Florida.”
Future improvement projects include plans to completely replace the docks within the marina, and redesign the layout to better accommodate the current boating trends of larger yachts and catamarans, Grace says.
His ambitious plans build upon a history of upgrades and improvements at the marina. “In recent years, we’ve upgraded the marina’s complimentary Wi-Fi system by placing repeaters out on the docks, installed a new Keco pump-out station for guest use, built a bocce ball court and putting green, installed guest seating areas with new propane fire pits and replaced our old charcoal grills at our dockside guest pavilions.”
Keeping pace with modern needs
Currently, the marina boasts more than 400 slips, T-heads and alongside-ties accommodating vessels from 25ft (8m) to 100ft (30m) in length. The existing docks are all floating docks with timber frame and wood decking, with 30amp, 50amp and single phase 100amp electric services. Plans for a new 150ft (46m) fuel dock and ship store are currently in the development stage.
Other marina facilities include a tropical pool and hot tub spa, marina dock carts, laundry, dog walking areas, yoga sessions and basic boat washing services.

The marina is currently at 93.5% occupancy, with a waiting list on larger slips up to 62ft (19m), as well as 70-100ft (21-30m) T-heads and alongside-ties.
While there are no haul-out or boatyard facilities at the marina, third-party insured marine contractors are allowed to conduct minor repairs on guest boats, and a large haul-out and shipyard facility is located just five minutes from the marina.
Tight security at the marina allows for visitor peace of mind. “Security is not a concern at our marina because we are ever vigilant,” Grace explains. “The marina property is enclosed by a perimeter fence with 24-hour guest access by electronic key card at our automatic front gate. Contractors and visitors may also be buzzed and signed in by the Marina Office and dedicated uniformed roving marina security personnel. We also provide local law enforcement marine vessels with complimentary slips to support their safety and law enforcement operations on Galveston Bay. These law enforcement slips were purposely assigned at the front of the marina property with the highly visual presence of four to five law enforcement vessels and five to six law enforcement vehicles providing the marina and our guests with an additional security measure by acting as a visual deterrent for any potential illegal activities.”
Grace is proud of the marina’s environmental credentials. “We are a Certified Texas Clean Marina,” he explains. “Our daily environmental tasks include removing any trash by dip net within the marina basin and cleaning all bird mess from the docks. We provide our guests with a used oil and waste water/diesel disposal centre. This enclosed area also accepts used battery disposal and is cleaned and maintained weekly. The marina has several trash and recycling containers scattered throughout the property, which are emptied daily. The marina also maintains a close working relationship with the US Coast Guard and Texas General Land Office in reporting any possible oil or fuel spills in Kemah and assisting with minor clean-ups.”


Waterfront innovations in Canada

New agent for Capria

Breaking ground on the future

Port Vell launches bunkering service

Pacsoft launches MarinaPay

Extra berths at The Boat Works

Storm protection in Quincy Bay

Dura adds smaller size mesh

Smart Marinas guide and 2022 industry statistics

Man Overboard alarm readies for export

Eco pedestals promoted for export

Safe storage for lithium batteries

Freedom adds two Sydney clubs

Rental service boost in South Florida

New transporter is fit for a Princess

Keeping it in the family

Metstrade remains essential anchor point

Adapting marinas to alternative fuel propulsion systems

EV charging in the marina industry

Whitepaper illuminates key role of bidirectional charging

Mobile fuel station pioneers sustainability and efficiency

Resilient marina renovations lead to coral relocation

New research outlines pathways to decarbonisation

A resilient rebirth at Zeke's Landing

Renovations, partnership and acquisitions

Partnership boosts nautical tourism

Replacement docks double superyacht capacity

Premier buys leading drystack

Tourist driven marina breaks ground

Waikawa extension opens

Ultra luxury on The Spit

Launching Norlana superyacht hub

Popular boat lifts form part of renovation project

New forklift boosts operator confidence

Digital payment solution for visitor moorings

Stacking up on Okanagan Lake

Smart software drives success in Mooloolaba

Using bacteria to eliminate hydrocarbon residues

Sustainable sanitation for America’s Cup bases

MDL continues multi million pound roll ut

D-Marin makes €1.7 million investment

Voting in the best for 2023

Regeneration continues at Isle of Wight harbour

Expansion plans in a buoyant market

Customers, culture, comms and carbon

Ligurian icons make a comeback

Welcoming megayachts to Istanbul

Integra buys Aventura marina

Med marina networks partner up

Renewed Dover dock nears completion

Merger creates 'biggest' South Florida marina

Sindalah yacht repair centre, first of many for Neom

New Calero group marina, and more

IBEX one of best to date

Plans firmed up for Habacoa

M3 to boost Amaala to La Belle Classe

IWMC 2025 heads to Venice

AMI keynote announced

Redeveloping a prime lakeside marina

Charging options on both sides of the Channel

Sanitary building kick starts floating building range

Hydrogen power

Floating patio becomes new marina hub

Boosting sustainability with the WRF

New lifts in facility upgrade

Interest builds for electric hoists

Majoring on the minority

Flying the Blue Flag

Silver EcoVadis for Premier

Protecting a sensitive ecosystem

Tangible benefits for the local area

Karpaz Gate Marina: A home away from home

Convenience is not a European value

Industry lobbies government on cyclone cover crisis

Upgrades at Port of Lisbon

Port 32 expands partnership with Gulfstream

North Island marina expands

Monument buys Florida marine centre

Marine Centre plans for James Watt

JYC Marina soft opens for Saudi Grand Prix

Wider decking panel– ideal for finger piers

GCMarine partners with Harbour Assist

Elevator Lift is reconfigured

Cleaning water with Advanced Oxidation

Trouble free trolley goes international

Waiting pontoon for high season

More Freedom in Australia

First in Barcelona, first in Redwood City

D Marin wins iF Design award

Futuristic pod delivered to the Pearl

New production line, new designs and noteworthy deliveries

New owners to invest in Dartside Quay

Multi use trailer for Canadian tourism service

Handle with care: a pad for all hull shapes

One year operation of electric boat hoists

Setting new delivery records for 2023

Variable width option for mobile boat hoists

IBEX 2023: focus on sustainability

In need of new marinas and new money

Superyacht marina for Dubai Islands

Swift progress on Blue Water Cay

Bermuda dock opens for superyachts

New managers for GCCM

IGY to operate NEOM's first groundbreaking marina

Mega focus in Italian marinas

Marina Bahia Golfito: the new Costa Rica destination

Rivergate up for sale

Full service in Fort Lauderdale

Go Outdoors platform launch

Upgrading key infrastructure

Marina group in administration

Operator sought for Co Down marina

How sustainable is your marina?

Geoff Phillips

UK marina group signs four year service contract

Valterri Vauramo

Joint connector enhances breakwater performance

Flovac wins second Mallorca contract

Setting a new standard in marine electrical safety

Smarter management, happier customers

Enhancing customer service across a multinational portfolio

Moss Marina: surviving the storm

Developing the Eagle Float

Wet versus dry in the western Med

First phase drystack opens in Charleston

Forklift design for growing centre console market

Pioneering drystack buys larger forklift

Industry views: Drystack storage

Promoting a customer focused culture

Ismailia contract awarded

Trophy asset for east coast portfolio

Marina completes waterfront regeneration

Investment plans for Pylos

Operator chosen for Elounda

New marina at town gateway

Guidelines for sustainable infrastructure

Evolving design over the decades

New trends drive marina reshape

Electric chargers for Italian marinas

D Marin expands digital solutions

Next generation buoy

Ultranav invests in LifeLadder

New hoist brings new technology

Pontoons for Ocean Race

Electric propulsion: a solution to pollution

Collection and protection for small islands

AMI Expo: a record breaker

Slovenian marinas join forces to boost potential

Resilience, long term vision and personal approach

Support for local businesses

Becoming a master at planning marinas

A nautical tourism centre for Piombino

Ismailia Yacht Marina: a key player in the new era of the Suez Canal

Rebuild underway at Club marina

Upgrade approved for Jones Bay

Port 32 buys Lighthouse Point

Suntex adds NJ and AZ marinas

Marina group expands to Spain

Port Vell as Cup superyacht marina

Berths still in high demand

Community space with maritime focus

Livart builds state of art factory

Dock company changes hands

New catalogue highlights

A 3D map of your marina

All change at ICOMIA

ICOMIA stats for 2021

Stellar joins Molo

Developing a fast charge network

The move to electric: e handling and e boating

Building a sustainable marina

Buzzing on full power

Innovation on the dockside

E dock supports e boat challenges

World Cup boosts pedestal contracts

Power for bigger berths in Dubrovnik

Opening the APS Seychelles agency

Building post pandemic momentum

Jesolo Marina plays major part in coastal plans

Reimagining Noss on Dart

Regeneration planning for Des Moines

Suntex buys Green Cove

New docks at Blue Haven

First NEOM island announced

Plan ahead for Marinas24

Novalja opens second phase

Melbourne City completes large berth upgrade

Inaugural PIANC America

Calypso Cove project agreed

Funding boost for Ocean Reef

MarineMax buys marina build specialist

Pod design to regenerate seagrass

First electric boat supercharger in Portugal

20 years for ICMS

Community docks for St Johns River

D-Marin invests in Sense4Boat

Autonomous gardening – anywhere under the sun

Australian marina sets new benchmark in waterfront living

Electric and traditional – hoist designs for all

Cat trailer range expanded

Ontario operator buys multi use trailer

Green o'clock at Metstrade

40 years of yard deliveries

One of the world's first electric marine hoists is installed in Spain

Twenty years of talented teamwork

Kemah Boardwalk: Gateway to Galveston Bay

Marinas and takeovers: Enough room for boating?

True spice in the Spice Island

Top US boat dealer launches first in state drystack

Captains and crew vote Coral Sea Marina 'best in world'

First superyacht repair and refit centre in UAE

Abu Dhabi: a new winter oasis

Gibraltar superyacht berths near completion

Superyachts welcome at Palm Beach marina

The big boat picture in southern Italy

Seclusion and luxury in the Bahamas

Jersey marina invests in rebuild

New superyacht haven in Greek isles

Resort opens in favoured tourist spot

Hurricane Ian devastates Fort Myers marinas

NZMOA 2022 Awards

Big Challenges, Big Decisions

Suntex expands into California market

Ocean Reef breakwaters complete

Almarin buys Aister

Historic club installs movable rowing pontoon

Partnership boosts green awareness

Fast charge expansion to US and Sweden

Customised forklift for Saxon Wharf

New decking prompts rethink

Silver and gold for D Marin

Third gen business buys third MT

MARINAS22: inspiring – and successful

Adelaide Pointe: a new development model

Repairs bring new energy to Dinner Key Marina

Buying and managing a first Italian marina

South Island gem for boating community

Construction starts at Dana Point Harbor

Second contract for 2024 Olympics

First phase completes at Windermere

Golden centrepiece at Beach Marine

Interest builds for megayacht marina

Common nautical rules sought

MarineMax to buy IGY Marinas

Bristol town upgrades harbour

Med market hit by lack of uniform fee policy

The good, the fair and the dangerous

The future of government marina leases and concessions

Boosting berths in Roskilde

Vacuum sewage system for new Spanish marina

Canadian club buys stacker crane

European boost for electric charging

Phase one portal release

Sign up surge for marina platform

Maximising occupancy: the smart way

Mia and Mateo and the smart marina

Delivering a digital future for marina management

One system for your whole business

Revolutionising time at the fuel dock

Kempinski to manage one of a kind hotel

A shared vision for the future on water

Building the first sustainable floating city

Flexible marina investment for maximum returns

New life for neglected peninsula

APCC wins Jubail contract

Resource consent for Te Rahui Herenga Waka

Spit plan contract

Berth boost at BYC

More cats welcome in Kemah

Planning for Enviro Officer course

Marina mooted in the east

Revised costing for St George's

JDC progresses mega project

Health of Industry report

MYP becomes MYTR at IBEX

Free flow club design links land to sea

Ambitious plans for a 21st century network

Azimut Benetti marinas

New all tide marina to enhance leisure mooring

Balancing land use, economics and destination appeal

When the seas rise

Sponsored feature: Semi automation boosts drystack

Phase two pier in place

Superyacht marina opts for vacuum sewerage

Storm proven attenuator protects Sunset Bay

Custom forklift for Cape Cod yard

Added value software features for ever changing industry

Developing a new green standard for Italian marinas

New yachting brand officially launched in Monaco

Coral Sea Marina Resort marks Clean Up Australia Day

Closing the loop on waste

Sustainable solutions support yard services

Composite piling for eco sense and long life

Future proofing St Michaels Marina

Trio to develop resort on Al Marjan Island

Semi automation boosts drystack profits

Final phase at Corpach

Upgrade complete at Albert Pier

Marinas to compete in Smart and Sustainable Rendezvous 2022

Abu Dhabi breaks ground on new marinas

Resort plans in Wallonia

Pelican Waters breaks ground on Queensland marina

New Cyprus Marina

Positive signs for Metstrade 2022

LA Waterfront. Setting the stage for new development

New yard in Australia

Marina group marks 35 years