Houston is served by two airports, George Bush
Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and William P. Hobby Airport
(HOU). All international flights to Houston arrive in Bush, whereas
many domestic and budget carriers use Hobby.
Getting to High Island is pretty simple from Bush Airport and takes
about two hours.
Exit the parking lot onto
JFK Drive and go south. Look for the purple signs with yellow lettering
for the Sam Houston Tollway (locally known as Beltway 8). Be sure to
have some cash for the toll; booth operators can make change. Go east
on Sam Houston Tollway until your reach I-10. Take I-10 East out of the
city and continue until you get to the town of Winnie. Winnie is
approximately 52 miles from the Sam Houston Tollway and I-10
intersection. At Winnie take the state highway 124 exit. Go south on
Hwy 124 approximately 18 miles to High Island. In High Island turn left
(east) on 5th Street (you’ll see the post office on the southeast
corner). Drive three blocks to the Tropical Birding Visitor's Center on
your left, look for the birding tower.
An alternate and less
direct route, but one with more birding options, is to exit before the
town of Winnie. From the airport, follow the above directions to reach
I-10 east. Take I-10 east to the small community of Hankamer, which is
approximately 37 miles from the Sam Houston Tollway and I-10
intersection. Take exit 812 onto state highway 61. Go south (right) for
a few miles. You will come to a four-way intersection. Hwy 61 is to the
right (west), hwy 65 is to the left (east) and hwy 562 is straight
ahead. Continue straight through the intersection to Hwy 562. Continue
south on Hwy 562 to the small community of Double Bayou. Just past the
town, the road forks. Hwy 562 is to your right (southwest) and will
take your to Smith Point and offers various birding opportunities.
Route FM1985 is to your left (east) and will take you past the entrance
to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, which can have great birding in
any season. If you have time, stop and bird Anahuac, otherwise carry on
east on FM1985 until you reach hwy 124. Turn right (south) onto Hwy 124
and go to High Island. Turn left (east) onto 5th street per directions
Where to Stay
The Gulfway Motel (409-286-5217) is the only one in town. They also
have a nice restaurant that is open to the public for breakfast and
lunch. Dinner is only available to guests of the motel.
There is a wonderful house
called “The Roost” for rent directly across from Houston
Audubon’s Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary. While you would have to
be lucky indeed to find vacancy during spring migration, it is often
available during the rest of the year with a bit of advance notice. For
bookings, call Winnie Burkett at 832-385-7551, but chances are slim
there will be space in April.
There is an RV park in
town with camping and a few slots with hookups. The location is very
good for people wanting this type of accommodation. See their website
About 19 miles north of
High Island, just off I-10, is the town of Winnie. You will find your
normal set of chain motels there including:
Studio 6 409-296-3611
Holiday Inn Express
Quality Inn 409-296-9292
Winnie Inn and Suites
Locally owned motels
include Ricelands Motel 409-296-4121 or the Sands Motel.
Where to Eat
The Gulfway Motel has a restaurant that is open to the
public for breakfast and
lunch. Dinner is only available to guests of the motel. There is a small shop at the gas
station where you can pick up sandwiches and snack food.
The local Methodist church puts on a BBQ lunch every Saturday and
April (with the exception of Easter Sunday). The High Island town
association offers up a superb and good value gumbo that
is also served at the local Methodist church on Weeks
Avenue. Free (and very good!) coffee will be available from
the Birder’s Information Center across from the Boy Scouts
entrance on 5th street. Look for the tower; it is pretty hard to miss.
Besides the normal fast
food that is found at most I-10 exits, there are now three very good
alternatives in Winnie. Please let the people serving know that you are
birders supporting the local economy.
favorite is the steak and seafood restaurant Papa's Place that recently
re-opened (particular favorites there are crawfish, and they also do a
mean smoked brisket). Papa's is just south of Winnie, alongside the
124, signed on the right side of the road (as you are heading toward
HIgh Island). There is also a good Mexican restaurant called Machos on
the west side of the road (i.e. right if heading south and left if
heading north from High Island). This is only two miles south of
Winnie’s I-10 exit. The food here is very good Tex-Mex fare, with
a full meal coming in under $15, and many options under $10.
For Cajun food lovers,
there is Al T’s on the eastern side of highway 124 near I-10 in Winnie.
This restaurant can be packed, but is worth the 20-minute wait. They do
steak and seafood in Cajun style, and the dirty rice is fantastic. You
should leave there paying around $20 to $25 a head.
more information, check out the Winnie
Beach has mostly recovered from the devastation of Hurricane
in September 2008. The Big Store sells groceries as well as many other
items, and there is a fantastic taco stand in the parking lot.
Stingaree is a great restaurant, offering excellent seafood and other
dishes, and the bar underneath it is great for a more casual dining
environment. The Tiki Bar & Grill offers a laid-backed
and also serves food. For more information, check out the Crystal