ESPIRITU SANTO BAY. Espiritu Santo Bay, between San Antonio Bay and Matagorda Bay in extreme southern Calhoun County (at 28°21' N, 96°32' W), forms the barrier between Matagorda Island and the mainland. The bay is sixteen miles long and five miles wide. It is surrounded by low ridges and swales covered by grass and oaks, oyster reefs, and tidal flats of mixed mud, sand, and shell where blue-green algae predominate. The name, Spanish for "Holy Spirit," was applied by early Spaniards to several locations on the Gulf Coast, but in Texas it was most generally used to apply to the Matagorda Bay area, especially to what is now Lavaca Bay, which was also called San Bernardo Bay.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, "ESPIRITU SANTO BAY," accessed March 23, 2019,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox