French for ‘I am alone’, the term ‘Je suis seul,’ is one that solo travelers repeat to hostesses and waiters, hotel and concierge staff throughout France to let them know they are traveling or dining alone. In France, it is considered an honor to host a solo traveler in a restaurant or hotel. Now more than ever, solo travelers are welcomed worldwide with open arms.
For a solo traveler in Texas, Rockport-Fulton is a can’t miss destination. The two towns, situated side-by-side along the Gulf Coast in Aransas county, combine for a population of approximately 10,000. It is easy to feel the sense of community in both small towns.
And, you’re not likely to find many t-shirt and taffy shops here. The area is home to many families who make their livings fishing and shrimping. During the colder months when oysters are in season, shrimp boats switch to different trawling nets and harvest oysters. Each March, the small town of Fulton hosts their annual oyster festival. The small town waterfront assembles tents for the community to enjoy oysters in every possible way and includes a parade, carnival rides, live music, a shucking contest and much more.
The village of Rockport is next door. In 2017, the small, thriving community was voted the #2 Best Coastal Small Town in the U.S. The town hosts art festivals throughout the year and is well-known for being home to only Blue Wave Beach in Texas. Rockport Beach was awarded the prestigious designation by the Clean Beaches Coalition to communities committed to promoting clean, healthy beaches.
Solo travel makes it easy to slow down and listen to the beat of only one drum. Yours. Perhaps one of the most interesting components of solo travel is learning just how capable you are. Without a partner, friends, or family to immediately rely upon, solo travelers quickly learn to make decisions on their own which builds confidence. For many solo travelers, the ability to meander through a farmers market, spend hours watching the activity in a tidal pool, or enjoy an impromptu conversation delivers a sense of authentic simplicity.
One such impromptu conversation occurred in the art gallery of John Martell Photography in Rockport. With a humble, yet engaging personality, Martell’s talent clearly showcases the beauty and awe of Rockport-Fulton. He enthusiastically embraced the notion that many people, and travelers, can be generally defined as either those who prefer the windshield of life or the rear-view mirror. The automobile windshield with it expansive window, encourages one to look ahead and embrace (or prepare) for what life’s next chapter will reveal. The rear-view mirror represents the ability to look back, to learn from life’s lessons but to understand that the mirror is small for a reason. The question of how much time is spent viewing life through the windshield or the rear-view mirror transitioned to a conversation that was inspiring, engaging and thought-provoking. The essence of solo travel is the almost unperceivable ability to engage with others, to ask questions, and to enjoy being a traveler more so than a tourist.
It is impossible to drive into Rockport-Fulton and not be aware of the natural beauty. The area is home to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and may well be one of the more peaceful drives that any can traveler can take. The big tree, one of the largest and oldest live oaks in the world, can be found in Goose Island State Park. The tree inspires and invites you to imagine what it must be like to live through more than 1,000 years of Texas history.
For a solo traveler there are many places to stay in the area, however one that tops the list is the Pelican Bay Resort in Fulton. Situated on the Aransas Bay, the cottages are painted in pastel colors, each with white rockers on the front porches. Guests linger on their porches in the evenings, eager to share stories and welcome those impromptu conversations that the solo traveler knows so well.
Je suis seul? Yes, the solo traveler is indeed alone. Lonely? Absolument pas! Absolutely not. Solo travel is rich and engaging and opens doors to all new experiences.
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Cover: Rockport Beach. Photo John Martell Photography, Rockport, Texas
Haven Lindsey resides in Austin, Texas. She is an enthusiastic solo traveler and freelance writer with more than 20 years experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest stories. This is the first of a four-part series on the merits of solo travel.