We just got back from a morning at East Beach and were shocked by the policies. It is $8 for entrance, which is not bad for how clean they keep the beach. The parking is quite a walk from the beach (about 200-300 yards). Once we had hauled all of our things to the beach and put up our awning the staff came by to tell us that awnings can only be put up in a thin strip of sand about 20 feet from the parking lot (still 200-300 yard from the water). They informed us that this is for the lifeguards to have a clear site line down the beach. Although, moving 300 yards away from the water seems very excessive. Conveniently, they allow umbrellas with the same size as a small awning which they will rent to you (the quest for more money) for $35. We moved back to this strip and the staff ok'ed our location. We had set up our entire camp site and got our hibachi coals lit when a police truck (#RA2916) came by and told us that we were 2 feet over the "tent line" and that we would have to move our whole site 2 feet back. When we questioned if 2 feet was a big deal and did we really need to move 2 feet, he threatened us that he would make it a big deal for us if we didn't move. At this point it is obviously not a safety concern, but a power trip from a beach cop who likes to hassle tourists (we saw him hassle many more families who were not breaking any rules). Overall, the location is good but they do everything they can to intimidate you to spend money on their approved umbrellas. Galveston has many beaches to choose from and I recommend finding a more accommodating location.
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