Due to its remote location requiring a ferry ride and few amenities on-site, Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula isn’t very popular with tourists and doesn’t have as many visitors as other beaches in the area, so it’s a great alternative to the overcrowded beaches of Galveston.
It’s a nice place for a beach weekend or for a one day trip. If you’re looking for a relaxing non-commercialized destination with cozy beach houses instead of tremendous condominiums in the background, Crystal Beach is a place of choice for you. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this beach is that you can drive on it and park your car wherever you want!
In general, this beach is easily accessible but it requires some time to get there. There are two options: you can either take a ferry (it’s free of charge) or go by car via Interstate 10 east to Winnie and then down to High Island. It’s a longer distance; nevertheless, both routes are likely to require the same amount of time, since long waiting lines to the ferry are quite common. If you wish to make your trip more quick and comfortable, consider going by ferry during the off-season.
The sand on Crystal Beach is hard-packed, pressed under the wheels of many vehicles going back and forth, so the popular routes across the beach are safe and easy even for RV owners. However, there are loose sand areas where you risk getting stuck, so be careful.
Parking and camping
On Crystal Beach, you can drive directly to the place where you want to stay and park your car right there. Parking and camping are free but require a beach pass, which you can buy in local stores on your way to the beach or in the town. The pass costs $10 and is valid for the whole year. If you don’t purchase it, you are still allowed to drive through the area but once you decide to park they’ll make you leave the beach.
Amenities and accommodation
Crystal Beach cannot boast many tourist attractions or good beach facilities – there are few restrooms and no rinse showers at all. You’ll also hardly find any businesses on-site, so make sure you’ve taken everything you may need – food, picnic equipment, sun chairs, umbrellas, etc. There are some good restaurants and shops in the town but it’ll take time to get there.
There aren’t many hotels or motels either, and it’s recommended to use Airbnb or other popular sites to look for accommodation options. The area features quite many beach houses for rent, varying from modest little homes to luxurious mansions.
One of the best things about this beach is that it isn’t as crowded as the nearby beaches. However, get ready to see many more visitors than usual on holiday weekends. All together, Crystal Beach visitors make up a very diverse mix – there are families, a lot of children, couples, visitors with dogs, partying youngsters (especially in the evening), fishermen (more of them at night). So before you stop somewhere, take care to look around and choose a social surrounding fitting your plans.
Despite the lack of eateries and beach facilities, Crystal Beach is a really nice place offering all the basic things that one could expect from a beach – such as a relaxing atmosphere, beautiful views, seagulls, dolphins, clean sand, and warm water. The county makes pretty good cleanup efforts, although sometimes the water may get coated in thick seaweed or you may see some trash or debris in the sand – well, these things can be hit or miss on any beach.
- 1 hour 35 minutes from Houston, TX
- 4 hours 5 minutes from Austin, TX
- 4 hours 30 minutes from San Antonio, TX
Hotels and rentals
If you're considering staying for one or even a few nights, there are plenty of options available near the beach. Chose your preferred accomodation type and your favourite room provider:
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Crystal Beach which you can visit:
- Bolivar Beach (4 miles)
- Galveston Island East Beach (Galveston East Beach) (12 miles)
- Stewart Beach (13 miles)
- Porretto Beach (14 miles)
- Galveston Seawall Beaches (18 miles)