Get us in your inbox

Port Aransas Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Gracie X.Port Aransas Beach

The 10 best beaches in Texas

Whether you're after a quiet stretch of sand or a bustling hangout, it's all here in our guide to top beaches in Texas

Written by
Justine Harrington
Advertising

Though Texas may not be as known for its beaches as it is for, say, its cowboy culture and savory BBQ, the Lone Star State is home to more than 600 miles of coastline, pristine beaches, charming seaside towns and emerald-green waters – can someone say, “beach vacay”? Whether you’re itching for a secluded island getaway, a bustling beach town with things to do galore or just a quiet stretch of sand, chances are you can find it along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Best beaches in Texas

What is it? A barrier island off the southernmost corner of Texas that boasts sparkling tropical waters, unspoiled beaches and action-packed nightlife.
Why go? South Padre may be unofficially called Spring Break Island, but this picturesque locale is so much more than a teenage hangout (just don’t come here during March!) The best time to visit is between September and February, in order to relax and enjoy the lovely scenery without the crowds and rowdy partying.

What is it? A barrier island just east of Corpus Christi that’s home to a spectacular state park and tons of beachside activities.
Why go? For those looking to hike, mountain bike, kayak or swim in the Gulf, Mustang Island is a great beach destination. But it’s the state park’s sheer natural beauty – forest green dunes, powdery sand and dark blue waters – that’s the biggest draw. One of the prettiest and most remote beach getaways in Texas, Mustang Island State Park also offers first-come, first-served beach camping. Plan to visit between April and July to catch a glimpse of the sea turtles laying their eggs on shore.

Advertising

What is it? 70 miles of protected, peaceful coastline, prairies and dunes that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre.
Why go? If raw, rugged, beachy wilderness is your thing, you’ll love Padre Island National Seashore. The world’s longest undeveloped barrier island, Padre Island National Seashore is a Texas treasure, and one of the state’s most important conservation areas. The island provides a safe habitat for over 350 migratory bird species, in addition to the rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Camp on the sand or just find a quiet place to lounge for the day.

Boca Chica Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jason M.

4. Boca Chica Beach

What is it? A laidback, sandy, eight-mile beach located just across the Rio Grande from Mexico.
Why go? If you’re just in it for the sand and surf, Boca Chica Beach may just be the perfect choice. This rustic yet charming area doesn’t have much in the way of amenities, but this is precisely why it’s so wonderful. Come here to fish, swim, snorkel and surf, but be sure to pack plenty of food, beverages and other beach essentials for the day; as previously mentioned, there really are no services here.

Advertising

What is it? Nestled on the 18-mile long Mustang Island, Port Aransas (or “Port A”, as it’s known to locals) is beloved for its mix of great beaches, excellent seafood restaurants and cultural attractions.
Why go? This idyllic stretch of coastline features soft white sand, blue-greenish waters and plenty of activities, including fishing and camping. If you’re craving a dose of quiet, coastal charm, a visit to Port Aransas Beach is just what the doctor ordered.

What is it? A lovely state park nestled on the western end of the island, where visitors can explore both Galveston Bay and the Gulf.
Why go? Home to over 2,000 acres of natural landscape and scenic coastline, there are tons of island activities to enjoy here. Admire the views of the park’s marshes, wetlands and estuaries; go hiking or biking on picturesque trails; or, simply pack a picnic and lounge on one of the park’s beaches.

Advertising

What is it? A lively, kid-friendly beach community on the shore of Aransas Bay, just northeast of Corpus Christi.
Why go? Home to volleyball courts, several picnic spots, play areas for the kiddos, a popular fishing spot and plenty of shoreline that’s perfect for lounging and swimming, Rockport Beach is a clean, family-oriented area that’s also known for being the first Blue Wave Beach in Texas.

San Jose Island

What is it? A private, undeveloped and relatively undisturbed island situated across from Port Aransas.
Why go? San Jose Island is accessible only by boat – which is a significant part of the island’s charms, of course. There’s a ferry that travels hourly between here and Mustang Island, and because San Jose is privately owned, visitors are restricted to the beach only. However, swimming, birding, fishing and beachcombing are allowed.

Advertising
Crystal Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Paul D.

9. Crystal Beach

What is it? Situated along Texas’s Upper Gulf coast on the Bolivar Peninsula, this pretty slice of coastline is home to tons of amenities and activities.
Why go? Crystal Beach does tend to attract party-goers, in addition to families and other big groups, largely because you can drive your car directly on the sand here. In addition, there’s plenty to do in the area: Enjoy freshly-caught seafood, soak up the local nightclub scene, go crabbing, hunt for shells or just frolic in the glimmering waters.

What is it? Though the city of Matagorda has roughly 58 miles of beach, only 23 miles of the beach are accessible by foot; this off-the-beaten-path coastal strip attracts very few tourists, especially compared to South Padre and Galveston.
Why go? Matagorda Beach is a bit of a hidden treasure in Texas, so this is the perfect coastal spot to visit if you’re in the mood for solitude. Just keep in mind that Matagorda is primitive and it’s a bit of an adventure to get here, so you’ll need to bring plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen to last you the whole day.

Looking to explore more of Texas?

The 10 best things to do in Texas
  • Things to do

In a state the size of Texas, there are so many diverse and exciting attractions, monuments, cities, rural towns and landscapes that it’s enough to make your head spin. Here's what to add to your bucket list.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising