If you live or travel in Texas, you’re likely to spend a significant amount of time on beach recreation of one kind or another. This hot and sunny state has a long shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico and boasts a huge variety of beaches. Of course, Texas beaches cannot compete with tropical Caribbean getaways and it’s probably not a destination you would choose for a two-week beach vacation, but this doesn’t mean you cannot fully enjoy the sun and the ocean once you find yourself here on the Gulf shore. Texas also has a great deal to offer to all kinds of beach lovers – especially, to those who know the right places 😉 In this article, we’d like to share with you our round-up of the best Texas beaches.
Port Aransas Beach
Probably, this name is the first you’ll hear when asking people which Texas beach they would recommend for a visit. Port Aransas Beach is among the most famous places on the Texas coast. That said, it’s less crowded than other popular beaches in the area. Being about 6.3 miles long, Port Aransas Beach is a truly tranquil seaside getaway with plenty of space where you can stroll for hours or choose a secluded spot to swim, sunbathe, picnic, and enjoy expansive picturesque views of the clean white-sand beach and the bright blue ocean. With a yearly parking permit, you can park your car directly on the beach. Camping is allowed: three-day tent camping is free while RV camping requires a $40 permit, which can be purchased at City Hall.
Padre Island National Seashore
It’s a wild 70-mile scenic beach in South Texas with plenty of space and the minimum commercial activity. Here, the water is untypically clear for the Texas Coast, featuring a very small amount of seaweed. Such amenities as a free parking lot, picnic area, restrooms, changing rooms, showers, and electric outlets can be found at the visitor’s center. There is also a museum, a gift shop, and friendly staff, who are always ready to help you. Consult them (or the center’s Facebook page) if you are interested to see the famous turtle release – a special event, which takes place at dawn on scheduled days and is aimed at protecting little baby turtles in their first run to the water. If you drive past the visitor’s center and further to a more serene and wild part of the shore, you can find an excellent spot for RV camping.
Boca Chica State Park
Boca Chica Beach is an eight-mile stretch of an absolutely non-commercialized and desolate beach area on the southernmost point of the state (from the lower Laguna Madre to the Rio Grande delta). It’s a remarkably empty and tranquil place with clean emerald water, good for swimming, snorkeling, kiteboarding, and surfing, and interesting and diverse wildlife. Here, on arid Texas lands, among mangrove marshes, tidal salt flats, and clay dunes, you can see osprey, hawks, aplomado falcons, as well as some the rarest sea turtles nesting on the shore (in the summer months). Driving on the sand is allowed and the beach is open 24 hours every day with free entrance.
Michael J. Ellis Beach & Seawall
There is a variety of city beaches along the one-mile Padre Island Seawall, and one of the best among them is Michael J. Ellis Beach, which is located around its midpoint. It’s a drive-on spacious beach with hard-packed white sand and clear blue water – a beautiful and soothing spot with all necessary beach amenities in close proximity to rentals, food facilities, and city shops. It’s a well-maintained beach with easy access and free parking but still rarely getting overcrowded. There is a little snack concession and a vendor offering surfing lessons on site. The waves are good and why not try a more dynamic beach recreation?
It’s a spacious 26-mile long uncrowded beach near the mouth of the Colorado River on the Texas coast. In contrast to Port Aransas or Galveston, this place is really off the beaten track. Being an extensive scenic beach with fine soft sand and beautiful clear water, Matagorda Beach is good for unhurried walks and wildlife watching – apart from sunbathing, swimming, and picnicking (bring your own food, there aren’t many businesses around). There are well-maintained picnic areas with grills and neat and clean restrooms. Dogs are allowed, so you can come with your four-legged friend and have fun.
This beautiful family-friendly beach with good location and easy access on the Corpus Christi Bay is open 24 hours throughout the year and features free entrance and parking (including on-beach parking). Swimming in its calm and clear waters is safe and enjoyable for children as well as adults. There are beach rentals, public restrooms, and rinse showers on site. There are also a kids’ playground and sidewalk for biking, skateboarding, and lounging out.
Crystal Beach is located on Bolivar Peninsula, so you’ll have to take a ferry ride to reach it (free of charge). Then you can drive directly to the place where you want to stay and park your car on the sand. Parking and camping require a beach pass, which costs $10 and can be purchased in local stores. Amenities are scarce; there are few restrooms and no rinse showers at all. This is a place to enjoy the untouched natural surroundings in a relaxing atmosphere, with beautiful views, seagulls, dolphins, clean sand, and warm water. Instead of tremendous condominiums, there are pretty beach houses on the shore, and some of them are available for rent.
It’s a spacious picturesque drive-on beach with the best white sand in Corpus Christi. It’s a popular place with convenient location – an excellent option for a quick beach holiday. Peaceful, well-kept, and family-friendly – most of the visitors are families with children. There are also many visitors with dogs, so your pet is also welcome (on a leash). There are public restrooms and showers on the beach and some good restaurants not far from it. The local fauna includes seagulls, migrating brown pelicans, colorful northern caracaras, hermit crabs, coquina crabs, pipers, and blue crabs.
Another good place for a short trip without special preparations is North Beach. It’s not a scenic beach with fine sand and turquoise water, but it’s easily accessible, convenient, and offers all necessary amenities as well as a variety of restaurants and entertainment options. You can swim, sunbathe, play volleyball, visit Lexington, Aquarium, or Dolphin Park with a beach playground and outdoor musical instruments. There is also a long sidewalk close to the water, which is good for strolling, jogging, or walking a dog.
Harrison County Sand Beach
It’s a lovely, well-maintained, and picturesque sandy beach on the Gulf coast featuring a small number of visitors even on holidays and summer weekends, so the atmosphere is peaceful and tranquil. This is a place of choice if you like meditative sunbathing, or swimming on your own, or unhurried walks, either alone or together with a spouse or date, enjoying the ocean views and the sea breeze. The local wildlife includes various bird species, crabs, glowing jellyfish, and oysters. It’s also a good place for holding events – the county authorities even permit fireworks if you submit an application in advance.