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The Lone Star state boasts 400 miles of picturesque coastline that are ideal for those perfect summer days. Combining warm Gulf Coast waters with plenty of excellent beach destinations, visitors can swim, sail, kayak, fish or hop on a boat for a fun-filled day of fun in the sun with the entire family. Whether beach-goers want to indulge in exciting water activities like kiteboarding, windsurfing, and parasailing, prefer to relax on a quiet stretch of sand, or are in search of diverse wildlife, the beaches in Texas have a lot to offer its visitors. Both a haven for nature lovers and a hot spot for outdoor adventurers, explore some of the best beaches in Texas.
Located on the Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach is a quiet stretch of beach that spans seven miles. Named after its sparkling beaches, this eco-friendly beach is popular for its abundant fishing opportunities, as well as crabbing and fresh seafood available from nearby restaurants. Less crowded than other beaches, beachgoers can find a variety of beach cabins that are ideal for a family-friendly beach escape. Perfect for a day of swimming and water activities, visitors can end their beach days with a toasty fire paired with s’mores. A ferry departs Galveston and Crystal Beach 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, making it easy to access the area.
Devoid of the hustle and bustle of the city, Port Aransas offers visitors a tranquil beach area where you can soak in the sunshine and let go of your worries. Less crowded than its more popular counterparts such as South Padre Island and Galveston, Port Aransas boasts long stretches of quiet beaches where you can find peace and quiet. With 6 miles of beach, the area is perfect for families visiting with kids, as it has plenty of space to enjoy the sounds of the tide rolling in where you can relax in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Although Corpus Christi is nearby, Port Aranas is one of the best choices for a relaxing beach day.
A hidden gem in Texas, Mustang Island State Park is a popular spot to enjoy sunbathing and swimming. A dog-friendly beach, visitors can bring their favorite four-legged friends as they go beachcombing for seashells, fossils and other treasures swept up from the tide on this beautiful barrier island. One of the few breeding grounds for a special breed of turtles, Kemp’s Ridley, the area is teeming with diverse wildlife, including over 400 different species of birds. Beachfront campfires are a real highlight of this park, in addition to the scenic paddle trails where you can kayak along the shore. An adventure-prone area for visitors of all ages, beachgoers can enjoy drive-up campsites on the sand or right behind the dunes bordering the beach.
South Padre Island is a tourist hot spot in Texas, for a good reason. One of the best places to spot diverse wildlife such as a dolphin or large sea turtles, it is also known for its beautiful beach area. Lined with 33 miles of pristine beach area, beach-goers can indulge in a variety of activities, from swimming to parasailing, or simply soak in the white-sand and clear water surroundings. A barrier island that is known for its lively crowds of party-goers, the area also appeals to families with kids and snowbirds in the winter. A nature lover’s oasis, bird watching is a popular activity, as visitors have spotted herons, egrets and Yellow-billed Loons among the more than 300 bird species that flock here during spring and fall migrations.
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Boca Chica State Park, the beach here offers eight miles of picturesque coastline. Between the Rio Grande delta and lower Laguna Madre in the southernmost tip of Texas, the beach is relatively free of crowds, making it the perfect beach escape for beach-goers. Tranquility and a peaceful atmosphere are what you’ll find on this quiet stretch of beach, where the sights and sounds of the sandy shore and rustic wilderness are its biggest highlights. After soaking in the sunshine and beautiful surroundings, indulge in the variety of watersports available. Take a dip in the calm waters, or try your hand at snorkeling and fishing. Active beachgoers might enjoy a hike around the mouth of the Rio Grande, and surfing and kiteboarding are also top choices.
A unique nature experience in Texas, Padre Island National Seashore is the largest undeveloped barrier island in the world. With more than 130,000 acres of dunes, grasslands and beaches, the area is a protected National Park and a hot spot for family-friendly adventures. Perfect for those looking for either seclusion or outdoor activities, at this beach you can venture through the Grasslands Nature Trail, spot diverse wildlife or try a bird watching tour. Situated along the Gulf coast, beachgoers can watch baby sea turtles make their way to the ocean or go off-roading on a 4-wheel vehicle on the beach. Accessible only through Corpus Christi and North Padre Island village, the area has over 50 miles of unspoiled beaches to roam, making it feel like you are on a remote island adventure by yourself.
Nicknamed “St. Jo Island”, San Jose Island is located across from Port Aransas. A private and undeveloped island, visitors who are looking for the ultimate secluded oasis will find this beach suits their needs, as beachgoers need to hop on a jetty boat to even access the area. While the beach is bare without any amenities, houses, cars and condos, beachgoers will feel like they have won the lottery with the miles of a quiet, unspoiled stretch of sand. Perfect for a day of lounging, swimming and fishing, leave the mainland behind to explore the area’s abundance of birds and other wildlife enjoying their natural habitat before heading back to Port Aransas for food and entertainment.
Just north of San Jose Island is Matagorda Bay Nature Park, visitors will find panoramic views of inviting bright blue waters here. Just 200 miles southeast of San Antonio, this 55-mile stretch of coastal land makes up a part of Matagorda County, with 25 miles of it accessible by car. Boasting laid-back vibes and plenty of spots to soak in the sunshine, the beach area is known for its fantastic kayaking, surfing, and bird watching opportunities, while spotting treasures that wash up from the tide is popular with kids. Get off the beaten path and hop on a boat to reach more secluded parts of the area, and explore the cast iron Matagorda Lighthouse that was built in 1852.
A beach that faces Aransas Bay in the small coastal town of Rockport, Rockport Beach is considered one of the cleanest beach areas you’ll find in the state. Offering visitors a stunning stretch of sand, beachgoers will discover the beach is ideal for family-friendly days out enjoying the sun. Perfect for the little ones, Rockport Beach is popular for its absence of big waves and strong undertows, ensuring that everyone in the family can get in the water. Popular activities include fishing, boating, and bird watching, while plenty of restaurants, gift shops, and galleries line the area and offer opportunities to purchase souvenir keepsakes. A 1,500-foot lighted jetty pier also sits at the end of the harbor, where those looking for a bit of solitude and romance will find a perfect place for a stroll with their significant other.
In a perfect location to escape from the city’s stress, Surfside Beach is less than an hour’s driving distance from Houston, situated in Brazoria County near the city of Freeport. One of the cleanest beaches in the area, visitors will find a plethora of activities to choose from. Spoiled for choice, beachgoers can drive straight on the beach, avoiding the need to drag beach supplies long-distance. Combining top-notch water activities with an area filled with coastal eateries, the area is perfect for a family-friendly vacation with the kids. Peppered with unique lodging along the coast, this small town is quiet and devoid of the lively crowds at other beaches. The beach also allows bonfires, which make a great ending to a fun-filled day in the sunshine.