When you think of Texas travel, wide open deserts, weird Austin, and lots of barbeques come to mind. But Texas has a secret gem about which few people know. You’re about to become a member of a secret club. Texas has great beaches.
You might ask yourself..
Are there any good beaches in Texas?
Short answer is; yes, lots. Long answer, there’s over 350 miles of Gulf of Mexico shoreline filled with state parks, wildlife refuges, white sand beaches, and small town beach culture. There’s a beach for everyone in Texas. You’re craving spring break beach culture? Try the infamous South Padre Island. Are you a sportsman who loves to kayak and paddleboard? Head to Port Aransas. There are even beaches where big waves break and you can surf, like the aptly named Surfside Beach.
If you’re visiting Texas in the summer, you won’t need more convincing. You’ll be craving a dunk in the ocean.
You might worry about fitting in a beach trip during an already planned Texas vacation. Granted, Texas is the biggest state in the lower 48 (still only half the size of Alaska), so a beach trip takes a little extra planning. The flight from a major Texas airport to a regional airport along the shore shouldn’t take more than an hour. There are also three international airports right on the Gulf, so you can fly direct to the beach.
For a unique and scenic coastal road trip, load up the car and explore the Texas shore from Mexico Border to Louisiana state line. Along the way, stop at the 13 best beach in Texas:
Boca Chica Beach. Brownsville.
This is the most eastern beach in Texas, past the Border Patrol checkpoint and next to the SpaceX launch site. It’s deserted without amenities, and there’s a good chance you’ll have the entire place to yourself. A fun feature common at Texas beaches; you can drive your car right onto the sand. Remember to bring snacks and drinking water with you in the car.
Among the seaside dunes at Boca Chica the Rio Grande flows into the Gulf. Depending on the time of year you visit, sandbars may halt the river’s flow into the ocean. It’s a great place for tailgating, and beachcombers will love the seashells among the wide white sand beaches.
Lighthouse & Magnolia Beaches. Port Lavaca.
These are popular beaches with families. Magnolia Beach is a natural shell beach, great for beachcombers. There’s free RV camping allowed on the hard pack beach, so you park right at the water’s edge. You won’t find resort culture and modern amenities here (there're no hookups for RVs), but quiet scenery and plenty of fresh air.
Those who appreciate a quiet beach with gentle surf should head to Lighthouse. You’ll find locals and visitors alike enjoying this beach. Take a walk along the Formosa Wetlands Walkway through the bird sanctuary to the Alcoa Bird Tower for bird watching. There are campgrounds for overnight stays with plenty of amenities; laundry, kitchen, game room, and a pool during the summer.
Port Aransas. Mustang Island.
Located on a barrier island near Corpus Christi, Port Aransas has 18 miles of wide sandy beaches. The town is vibrant year round with festivals, events, and plenty of activities on sea and shore. Try kayaking or parasailing, birding and dolphin watching, and partake in the sport fishing. When you catch something, try out the ‘cook your catch’ roadside taco stands.
Accommodations range from beach camping, RV glamping, rental cottages, and resort hotels. There’s so much to do, even if your vacation is just enjoying the sun and surf. No matter your vacation budget, Port Aransas provides unparalleled sea views of the Gulf throughout your stay.
High Island Beach. East Texas.
Described as “quiet and quirky” by CultureMap Houston, this is the beach for nature lovers. Four bird sanctuaries open daily make up a significant portion of the town where visitors can see rosy spoonbills and herons amongst other native Texas species.
The beach is startling in its remoteness, but it’s a drive-on beach so you can take your car onto the sand to set up a spot for just the day, or camp overnight. There aren’t many amenities in town, but if you’re looking for a rustic getaway, put High Island Beach on your list of best Texas beaches.
Port Arthur Beach. Beaumont.
This port town adds cajun style to Texas beach culture. Chowing down on crawfish after a day at the beach, you may forget you’re even in Texas. It’s a great beach for families because there’s so much to keep kids engaged and excited. Plus, there are plenty of affordable places to stay just minutes from the beach. It’s home to the S.A.L.T Club, a non-profit dedicated to introducing youths to salt-water fishing.
Stay in any of the motels, hotels, and RV/campgrounds in Port Arthur or in nearby Beaumont for a greater assortment of cultural attractions and restaurants. Explore the many waterways and lakes by kayak, and then head ashore at the manmade Pleasure Island for arts, culture, and entertainment.
Rockport Beach. Copano Bay.
A quick 45 minute drive from Corpus Christi, Rockport Beach features a park for families and a variety of seaside activities. There’s paid parking close to the sand, with both daily and yearly rates available. Rockport has several seaside pavilions available for rent that accommodate 85 to 200 people.
The Beach Park has gentle waters, great for families with young kids. There’s a playground plus grilling area, picnic tables, and lots of shade. Next to the beach are several jogging/bicycling paths for active visitors. The festival grounds across from the bay host yearly events and monthly Market Days with local vendors selling produce and handmade goods.
South Packery Jetty Beach. Corpus Christi.
This beach acts as a natural border between Mustang Island and Padre Island. The calm sandy beaches are quieter than other beaches in the area. While there isn't a wide range of additional attractions at Jetty Beach, it’s a classic beach experience without crowds.
Access is a little difficult as there’s no parking lot, but you’re allowed to drive on the beach. It’s a great place for the family to set up camp for a day of beach combing, swimming, fishing, and relaxing. Anglers will appreciate easy fishing and big catches from the jetty. Otherwise, visiting early morning or late night promises breath-taking sky vistas and occasional visits from sea turtles.
Galveston Island. Galveston.
Find several beaches on the island suited to a variety of seaside adventures. Texans consider Stewart Beach to be Galveston’s most family-friendly beach because of the playground, lifeguards on duty, and prohibition of alcoholic beverages. There are concessions, showers, and lots of shade (including beach umbrellas for rent) to set families up for the perfect beach day.
For more of a party vibe head to East Beach where you’ll find live bands, festivals, and permitted alcohol. The State Island Park is perfect for athletes looking to kayak and surf. There are also nature expeditions for bird-watching and wildlife observation. Find beach resort culture at the Seawall Beaches. Galveston Island is the perfect place to experience everything Texas beaches offer.
South Padre Island. Brownsville.
This barrier island is a 45 minute drive from Brownsville and across from Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. During spring break throughout March every year, the island turns into a non-stop party. Featured musical guests play set right on the sand, dance parties take place on the beach, and you can find great deals on vacation rentals.
The rest of the year, the island is still active, with a more family-friendly vibe. It’s near to the SpaceX facilities for a day trip. There are plenty of arts and culture to explore off the shore. On the water, you can rent watersports equipment, go on dolphin-watching tours, and partake in guided fishing expeditions. If your vacation speed is a little more subdued, there beautiful sandy beaches are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sea air.
Crystal Beach. Port Bolivar.
Find seven miles of wide sandy beaches here, with permitted camping and campfires. There’s great fishing, either off the shore, from the rocky jetty, or Rollover Fish Pass. The pass was made to improve fishing, and for almost 70 years, thousands of locals and visitors to Crystal Beach have enjoyed fishing success on the pass.
The beach hosts year-round festivals, perhaps the most well known is the Crab Fest. Every May, the Texas Crab Festival fills a weekend with crabs to eat, live music, art vendors, charity runs, activities, and attractions. Find plenty of beach rentals and RV parks along Bolivar Peninsula and take advantage of the free ferry over to Galveston Island.
Matagorda Beach. Matagorda.
Sixty miles of beach surround Matagorda, but of those 35 are only accessible from the water. Once you pay for a $10 permit to drive onto the beach, you can camp for up to 72 hours without paying an additional fee. They caution against attempting to bring your vehicle onto the sand unless it’s a 4x4.
Seafood lovers will appreciate the local restaurants, plus there’s plenty of opportunity to catch your own dinner from the long pier. For true fisherman, there are fishermen's lodges and cabins for a fish-focused stay. Otherwise, accommodations range from condos to rental homes and waterfront properties. The beach is clean, with clear water and gentle surf. Because there’s so many miles of beaches, it’s easy to drive to a spot with the family to set up camp for a quiet beach day.
What is the prettiest beach in Texas?
This is a matter of opinion, but I think we can all agree that white sand, gorgeous sunsets and warm gulf water all add up to a gorgeous beach. Here’s the shortlist for finding a pretty beach to waste a few hours.
Mustang Island. Corpus Christi.
Get ready for cotton candy pink sunsets, a pristine shoreline and pure white sand. This 18 mile barrier island is just a short drive from Corpus Christi. There are big thrills besides great beaches for relaxing. There’s three ‘paddling trails’ through the wetlands by either kayak or canoe. You can also sky dive, parasail, and surf at different locations all along the island.
Spend the night in paradise, with 50 primitive campsite and over 40 RV sites with hookups in the Mustang Island State Park. For wildlife lovers, there’s an assortment of birds and mammals throughout the island dunes. The shores are home to over 600 species of saltwater fish. Two species of sea turtle frequent the island, including the endangered Kemp’s ridley. Mustang Island is a bit of beach paradise on the shores of Texas.
Surfside Beach. Brazoria County.
This beautiful beach is a must-see for surfers in Texas. The beach is four pristine miles, with legendary and consistent waves. It is also legendary among families because of the 2,000-square-foot splash pad with 10 water features offering a freshwater alternative to the waves.
For fishermen, there are plenty of places to get a line in the water. While taking in the breathtaking views from Surfside Beach, you can also cast off from the jetty park, hunt crustaceans at the crabbing pier, and book a deep sea excursion to catch tuna and sharks.
Surfside Beach is near the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 200 different species of birds. But visitors don’t even have to make a trip to the refuge to enjoy world class bird watching. Egrets, spoonbills, and snow geese all live on or near the beach. A trip here a naturalist’s dream.
Are there any good beaches in Texas?
Yes! There are so many. Now that you’re part of the secret club who know the best beaches in Texas, you can plan your first lone star beach day. Many are just an hour drive from a major Texas, so going for a day or weekend is an easy addition to a planned Texas vacation. If you’re a nature lover, they are all home to Gulf of Mexico wildlife. Bird-watching and sea kayaking for dolphin watching is always a perfect Texas beach activity.
Bring your four-wheel vehicle, or rent one to set up an overnight camp to stargaze while enjoying the warm sea breeze. The beaches in Texas are unlike anywhere else in the country and worth exploring from the Mexican border all the way to Louisiana.
Which beach are you most excited about visiting?