It should come as no surprise that a place known as the Lone Star State would have beaches that are absolutely stellar. Texas offers much more than just a beach or two here and there, or a single sandy strip that straggles out to the sea. Like everything else it’s known for, Texas does beaches in a big way. Here, the Gulf region entices with 600 miles of glistening coastline that invite you to swim and soak up the day enjoying land, sea, and sky.
Immerse yourself in jet skiing, sailing, sea kayaking, fishing, or snorkeling. Gather some petal pink shells while taking a sunset stroll, all the while letting the warm-water surf dance about your feet. Spend a day letting your imagination take flight; Texas, after all, is known as the top bird-watching destination in the United States. You can even saddle up, in true Texas style, and go horseback riding, beachside.
To whet your interest: let’s explore some of the best beaches in Texas:
1. South Packery Channel Beach (also know as South Packery Jetty Beach)
Home to some of the best jetty fishing in South Texas ( you could reel in kingfish, grouper, tarpon, or trout), South Packery Channel Beach is known for swimming and serenity, and for being an excellent spot for children to splash in the water or build a sandcastle on the shore.
Often less crowded than some of the other touristy swimming holes in Texas, this one’s a keeper.
2. Crystal Beach
Rent a beach cabin at Crystal Beach and you’re sure to feel like you’re in your own private world with the soothing sound of the surf as your constant companion.
Located on the Bolivar Peninsula and stretching for seven miles (10 km), this beach permits camping and fires (break out the s’mores!) and is also a great fishing destination.
3. Port Aransas
Port Aransas is timeless, making it one of the best choices for spending your beach time.
There’s no hustle and bustle here, no big city comings and goings — the only thing coming and going is the tide. Although Corpus Christi is nearby, you won’t notice anything but the idyllic calm and peacefulness of long, languourous beach that invite you to linger and indulge your lazy side.
It’s the type of beach that’s made for cloudless days when tinkling laughter lifts skyward and time is all but forgotten.
4. North Beach (formerly known as Corpus Christi Beach)
Sun, surf, and sand? Of course they’re all here. But North Beach takes enjoying a day at the beach a step further; in fact, just a few steps away are some great Texas attractions you won’t want to miss.
Soak up some rays on the super clean sand, go for a dip, then cool off in one of the charming cabanas before taking in the sights. The U.S.S. Lexington, a WWII Essex Class aircraft carrier is open to visitors, and the Texas State Aquarium let’s you get up close to a wide variety of the animals from around the region. And serving as the backdrop to it all: the scintillating skyline of Corpus Christie.
5. Magnolia Beach
At Magnolia Beach, fun in the sun translates into family time, which means slowing down and spending time together. You won’t find any fast food outlets here.
And tourists, well, there aren’t too many — they’re probably all hanging out at the touristy spots where people feel the need to always be moving, doing something, and searching for the next great thing.
Here, you can search for crabs in the surf or search the sky for clouds. You can chat with a villager or two if you like. This beach isn’t just about beauty; it’s about family and serenity.
6. Mustang Island
It’ll be difficult to rein in your excitement once you arrive at Mustang Island. The beach is spectacular, to be sure, but there are so many other things to do in addition to sunning and swimming.
Build a beach-front campfire. Go camping. Spend an hour or two beach combing. Explore miles of beautiful paddling trails along the pristine shore. Go bird watching. Seek out some amazing sea turtles (in season); Mustang Island is one of the last remaining breeding grounds for the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.
And unlike some of the other beaches in Texas, feel free to bring Fido with you — leashed, of course.
7. Surfside Beach
Within driving distance of Houston, Surfside Beach is located in Brazoria County near Freeport.
Why it’s popular: it’s clean, clean, clean. What else makes for a perfect beach day here: You can drive on the beach (no walking and lugging those unwieldy beach chairs and cumbersome coolers), you can make bonfires (beaches and bonfires are a perfect match), and there’s free parking (no exorbitant fees to put the brakes on your fun).
8. San Jose Island
Say hello to “St. Jo Island”, a private, undeveloped island located across from Port Aransas. If you’re in search of seclusion you’ve come to the right place, but to get here you have to take a jetty boat (several drop-off and pick-up times are available).
Amenities? Absent. It’s the astounding solitary beauty that makes you want to spend time here swimming and fishing, birding and beachcombing. There are no houses, cars, or condos to disrupt the day; so, yes, say hello to St. Jo but be prepared to not want to say goodbye.
9. South Padre Island
It’s a hot spot — and not just because of the abundance of sun. South Padre Island is a fave among tourists looking for the wild life and those looking to observe wildlife. Some come here to scope out the rowdy bar scene while others can’t take their eyes off the silky smooth dolphins dotting the surf and majestic sea turtles scuttling in the sand.
Located just off the southern tip of Texas, this beach features crystalline waters that calm and soothe, especially if you visit when it’s not Spring Break when the beach can be flooded with students.
10. Rockport Beach
Facing Aransas Bay, Rockport Beach is a big draw for families with children because of the absence of strong undertows or big waves. But it’s not just an ideal spot for the kiddos; it’s a great place to let the sun shine on your romantic side.
With a 1,500-foot lighted jetty pier at the end of Rockport Harbor, you can take a leisurely stroll with your significant other while feeling like there’s no other place in the world you’d rather be.
By the way, Rockport Beach is also considered one of the cleanest beaches in Texas.
11. Padre Island National Seashore
There’s a lot to take in here: 130,000 acres, to be exact. This is a spectacular protected National Park, a place of abundant beaches, dunes, and grasslands that, together, form the world’s largest undeveloped barrier.
Here you can develop and pursue interests of nearly every kind: beach combing, traversing scenic Grasslands Nature Trails, off-roading on the beach, watching baby sea turtles amble toward the ocean, enjoying a birding tour, listening in on a park ranger talk.
Whether you experience Padre Island National Seashore at sunrise, sunset, or sometime in-between, it boggles the mind with beauty.
12. Stewart Beach
If you’re heading to Galveston, be sure to add Stewart Beach to your agenda. One of the reasons this beach has a leg up on others in the area: You can bring your four-footed companion along with you. During peak season, sponsored events like volleyball tourneys up the excitement factor.
Chair and umbrella rentals mean you don’t have to tote your own to your favorite spot, while on-site showers mean you won’t be sitting in your own personal sand pile while you head home in your car.
13. Malaquite Beach
Malaquite Beach is quite the place. Rarely crowded. Home to a visitor center with eye-catching displays on local history and wildlife. There’s kayaking and windsurfing. And 60 miles of silken sand that lead you all the way to the Mansfield Channel.
This is a place to whom the beach gods have spared no gift. You can meander and wander and wonder at all the natural beauty that has come together in one place. The only thing there’s not enough of: hours in the day to enjoy it all.
14. Boca Chica Beach
In the heart of Boca Chica State Park, this beach boasts a tropical feel that’s wonderfully enticing. The sandy shore and stunning flora speak to the nature lover who prefers wilderness to wildly overdone development.
If you’re looking to take a break from sunning and swimming, try your hand at the superb snorkeling, abundant fishing, and go-for-it kiteboarding.
15. Porretto Beach
Some things are just meant to be kept private: Porretto Beach is one of them. It’s a place where locals cluster and snow birds flock, just as they have since it was established in the 1950s.
But it’s remained privately owned and operated over the years, attracting those who crave the extra attention and the extraordinary activities like the jet skis and parasailing that are noticeably absent from most public beaches.
And just in case you end up feeling a bit parched while you lounge on your beach perch: Beverage service is available, too.