Texas Travel

A Guide to the Best Beaches in Texas

By Peter Simek 5.26.22

When you think of beach destinations, California, Florida, or Hawaii likely spring to mind. But Texas is home to approximately 370 miles of coastline. And with that much coastline, there are plenty of great spots to cool off during the hot summer months. Not all of Texas’ beaches look like Caribbean postcards — though we have some of those too. In the southeastern part of the state, the coastline is a collection of rich estuaries and marshlands that are home to migrating birds and rich sea life. As the coast bends toward the border with Mexico, the beaches of South Padre offer miles of remote, pristine sandy beaches where you are as likely to run into hatching sea turtles as you are to find camping beach lovers. If you’re planning a summer vacation, here’s a guide to some of the best beaches in Texas.

best beaches in Texas
Photo by Jacob Collins

Boca Chica Beach

The southernmost beach in Texas, Boca Chica sits near the Rio Grande River delta near Brownsville. You really feel like you are relaxing on the edge of the world at Boca Chica, where die-hard beach lovers soak up the sun, camp, kayak, windsurf, and swim. Proximity to the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area also offers access to the alluring tidal waters of the delta region.

Crystal Beach

To the northeast of Galveston, you’ll find Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, which juts out into Galveston Bay separating it from the Gulf of Mexico. Crystal Beach’s charm lies in its seclusion. It is accessible via ferry from Galveston, and it features a spectacular array of migratory bird species, great fishing, and remote camping.

Galveston Island

Once the largest and most important city in the state (before hurricanes drove businesses and residents inland), Galveston is the classic Texas seaside resort town. After you explore the bustling Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, enjoy the long stretch of Gulf Coast, which offers bustling urban beaches as well as quiet, cottage-lined sandy getaways.

best beaches in Texas

Lighthouse Beach

Located in Port Lavaca, this bayside beach is about midway between Houston and Corpus Christi. Children will enjoy playing in the calm waters and beachside splash pad. Nature lovers will find great birdwatching along the shore. And anglers will love the plentiful red fish and bass in Matagorda Bay. A campground offers RV facilities, and don’t miss the short walk from the beach to the Formosa Wetlands Walkway.

Photo Courtesy of Matagorda Beach

Matagorda Beach

The beach is located at the spot where the Colorado River spills into the Gulf Mexico, creating a wildlife-rich network of marshes and waterways that can be explored by foot, horseback, boat, kayak, canoe, or vehicle. Camping is allowed on the beach, and the park service rents items such as paddleboards, beach chairs, and beach wagons.

best beaches in Texas
Photo by Craig Mikes-Courtesy of Travel Texas

Mustang Island

Located a few miles east of Corpus Christi, this barrier island is popular with families and adventurers alike. Camp or surf along its approximately 18 miles of sandy beaches or explore Mustang Island State Park’s 20 miles of paddling trails.

best beaches in Texas
Photo Courtesy of Texas State Aquarium

North Beach

Located in the heart of Corpus Christi, North Beach is adjacent to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum. But for more than 100 years, it has been a popular destination for locals and Texas vacationers.

best beaches in Texas
Photo Courtesy of Travel Texas

Padre Island National Seashore

The crown jewel of Texas beaches, Padre Island National Seashore stretches from South Padre Island to the most southern tip of the state, offering a long strip of sandy beach that require days and weeks to truly explore. Visitors enjoy camping, kayaking, windsurfing, searching for seashells, and spotting sea turtles along the seashore.

best beaches in Texas

Port Aransas Nature Preserve

Located adjacent to a marshy wetland that hugs Aransas Bay, what the Port Aransas Nature Preserve lacks in beachfront it makes up in pristine habitats for a range of wildlife. Visitors enjoy hiking, birdwatching, and paddling.

Rockport Beach

One of Texas’ more popular and developed beaches, Rockport Beach overlooks Aransas Bay and features sandy beaches, volleyball courts, and a legendary ocean fishing pier. Rockport is also one of Texas’ cleanest beaches. It was the first spot in Texas to be dubbed a Blue Wave Beach by the Clean Beaches Coalition.

Surfside Beach

Located southwest of the more popular Galveston, this quiet, soft-sanded paradise features pristine waters, great waves for riding, and plenty of wind for windsurfers. When you’re finished enjoying a day in the sun, be sure to wander the small seaside town of Surfside that was the site of the signing of the treaties of Velasco, which ended the war between Texas and Mexico.

best beaches in Texas
Photo courtesy of Travel Texas

South Padre Island

This resort town booms every year during Spring Break, but visitors enjoy sandy beaches, warm waters, fishing, boating, birdwatching, and exploring the vibrant resort town throughout the year.

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