Floating the Comal River

New Braunfels, Texas

If it’s been a while since you’ve sought respite from the hot Texas sun in the cool waters of the Comal, you might have some questions! Is there a safe way to take my phone tubing? (Yes) How many times do I need to stop at Buc-ee’s on the way? (At least twice, if you’re riding with me) How do I get alcohol onto the river with no plastic, cans, or glass?? (Right this way..)


We rented our tubes from Texas Tubes and the whole process was quicker and easier than I expected. We parked in their lot, stripped down to our bathing suits, mixed our drinks, and walked over to get our wristbands. We were worried about needing cash but they take card, because you know, it’s 2018. It was $20 for a tube and shuttle- you can take the shuttle and float the river as many times as you want as long as you wear the wristband. The shuttle takes you to pick up your tube and hop right in the river. A few glorious hours later, we scrambled out of the water and boarded the shuttle which either takes you back to the beginning (if you have that kind of energy left), or right back to the parking lot. Note: bringing your own tube will not save you any money here, it’s still $20 for the shuttle so save the trouble and just grab one at the river’s entrance.


Maybe you want to take pictures, maybe you just don’t like leaving valuables in the car...Either way, you have a few options. Ranging from most to least ghetto, they are:

  • Put your phone in a plastic baggie and keep it in a floating cooler. This worked out fine for me, but if I had planned ahead (like, at all), I would have chosen another, less risky option. I was so nervous the whole time, especially going through the chutes. Word to the wise- if you do decide to go the ghetto route, do not skip the plastic baggie- my friend put his unprotected phone in the floating cooler and when the ice melted, his phone was submerged and dead.
  • Buy a waterproof fanny pack. They come in clear. They come in bright, summery colors. They come in holographic.
  • Buy a waterproof lanyard. To me, this is the smartest choice for river-floaters. They come in cute colors, you can still use the screen through the plastic, and you can take underwater pictures! And they’re not expensive.
  • Invest in a lifeproof case, like a responsible adult. If you go on adventures a lot, it’s probably worth it to just keep your phone perpetually protected.


Speaking of floating coolers, you can either rent one for $20 like a chump, or you can buy a way cuter one on Amazon for only $8. The rules are: No disposable plastic cups, cans, or bottles on the river...Don’t Mess With Texas! But what’s a tuber to do? Break out the Rtic cups of course! We pre-mixed our drinks in the parking lot and loaded up our floating cooler. I’ve also heard that people just bring small kegs. We each had one cupholder in our tubes.


Wear your bathing suit in the car or change at Buc-ee’s along the way, as there’s no good (read: clean) place to change once you arrive at the river (unless you’re cool with port-a-potties *gag). Any bathing suit will do- be mindful about those tan lines and don't forget sunscreen. Leave your clothes in your car- you'll be stuck with everything you bring until you're done for the day. As for shoes, you can wear flip flops/sandals, Chacos, old sneakers, or of course, water shoes if you’ve got’em. Anything goes, but I would recommend shoes that wrap around your ankle so you don’t have to worry about losing them. Lastly don't forget sunglasses and/or a hat!


The only way to improve upon the perfect summer day, is with the perfect summer playlist. You’re bound to float by a group or two with a speaker, but when you float away, you’ll wish you had your own. It turns out, portable, waterproof speakers don’t cost that much these days and you can take it to the pool, beach, or even shower.


There are two chutes- they are fun and not scary, but apparently if you’re a mom on tripadvisor, you will have a problem with them. Apparently, you can bypass them if you are a small child or don’t like having fun. It’s worth mentioning that at the end of the first chute, you should try to keep right to avoid getting sucked back into a small, backwards current. It’s no big deal, but you’ll have to paddle to get back into the flow of the river.

In Review: A Checklist

  • Bathing Suit
  • Shoes that wrap around your ankle
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Money for the tube/shuttle
  • Waterproof protection for your phone
  • Floating cooler
  • Beverages
  • Non plastic/glass/can cups for those beverages
  • Waterproof speaker

With a little planning-ahead, you'll be all set to have a perfect afternoon, coasting down the Comal and soaking up plenty of sun! Comment below if I've forgotten anything and let me know how your trip down the Comal was!