Texas has more than 370 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico, offering plenty of beach vacation options. When it came to determining which Texas beaches stand out, U.S. News considered sights, beach quality and amenities, as well as the opinions of readers and experts.
The Texas beach destination Boca Chica is located north of Mexico across the Rio Grande. It may lack the glitz and glamour of other beach towns, but Boca Chica more than makes up for it with its tried-and-true classic beach activities. Make sure you bring your own equipment if you want to go fishing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling, etc. In Boca Chica, you can also set up a beach chair and read a good book while admiring the ocean.
2. Padre Island National Seashore
About 30 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore stretches across 70 miles of beaches, dunes, and tidal flats. This protected area allows visitors to camp, kayak, windsurf, and swim. Long walks are possible on the soft, wide shoreline – the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. Interpretive programs and public sea turtle hatchling releases offer budding naturalists the chance to learn more about local wildlife and conservation efforts.
3. South Padre Island
In recent years , South Padre Island’s beaches have become a favorite spring break destination for families. Visitors return to the island year after year due to its beautiful Gulf of Mexico views, affordable accommodations, and wide, sandy shores. On the southern end of the island, Isla Blanca Park features pavilions with food options, boating facilities, fishing spots, and more. On South Padre Island, you can also visit Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Sea Turtle, Inc., a sea turtle rehabilitation center.
4. Mustang Island
Mustang Island is a popular beach destination for families and active travelers just east of Corpus Christi. The Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail (a 20-mile series of shallow-water canals) offers kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding opportunities. You can relax on the island’s 18-plus miles of beautiful sands while watching turtles, dolphins and birds.
5. Rockport Beach
In southeastern Texas, Rockport Beach overlooks Aransas Bay. There are volleyball courts, picnic tables, and a fishing pier at this crescent-shaped beach. In addition to taking a stroll along the promenade that backs the sands, travelers can set up chairs for relaxing and sunbathing on the beach, which was praised by past sun seekers for its cleanliness. As a matter of fact, the Clean Beaches Coalition recognized this beach as the first Blue Wave Beach in Texas.
6. Crystal Beach
Crystal Beach is located on the Bolivar Peninsula, which separates Galveston Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. Because of its secluded location (accessible by ferry from Galveston), the beach has a distinct ratio of hermit crabs to beachgoers. Travelers can also go fishing or bird watching when they are not searching for hermit crabs. Every year, more than 100 species of migratory birds visit the peninsula. Campers are also welcome at Crystal Beach, and campfires may be built directly on the sand.
7. Corpus Christi
Many travelers stay in Corpus Christi for the day and visit the shorelines surrounding the city, but the city also has its own beaches. A small, clean beach within walking distance of downtown, McGee Beach offers gentle waves and a jetty for fishing. Alternatively, beachgoers can cross the Harbor Bridge to reach North Beach. Aside from its 1 1/2-mile stretch of sand, North Beach is also home to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington.
8. Lighthouse Beach
In spite of Hurricane Harvey’s damage to the boardwalk at Lighthouse Beach, the popular beach in Port Lavaca is still worth a visit. In Lavaca Bay, older kids and adults can swim, while small children can enjoy the splash pad. Nature lovers will likely enjoy taking a stroll on the beach’s Formosa Wetlands Walkway, which is also a bird sanctuary. A campground at Lighthouse Beach offers travelers a closer connection to local wildlife.
9. Matagorda Bay Nature Park
In Texas, the Colorado River flows more than 800 miles southeast until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay Nature Park. A total of 1,333 acres and two miles of coastline make up the park, with camping, fishing, and swimming all available. There are also horseback riding opportunities on the beach and birdwatching opportunities in the park’s coastal marshes. Those who don’t have their own beach equipment can rent items such as paddleboards, beach chairs, and beach wagons from the park service.
10. Surfside Beach, TX
There is no surprise that the beach is the main attraction in this small town located 40 miles southwest of Galveston. The deep water of Surfside Beach provides excellent conditions for surfing, kayaking, and windsurfing. When you’re not in the water, the shoreline’s soft sand and clean environment make it a great place to nap or read a book in the sun. A fishing jetty and a splash pad with 10 water features are also available at the beach.
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