Texas Top Beaches
Imagine the soft sand squishing up through your toes and the warm waves gently lapping at your ankles as you wander along a quiet stretch of beach. You watch the foamy tide recede, leaving shiny bubbles all along the shoreline. Something catches your eye; you stoop to pick up a flawless lightning whelk, the state shell of Texas, which will make a wonderful addition to your collection.
Seem a little too laid back to you? Perhaps you'd prefer a jolt of adrenaline from riding a wave onto the shore. Or you could head out into the Gulf of Mexico for the thrill of (hopefully) landing a trophy giant tuna, marlin, or sailfish. Or grab a pail and get busy as a family making what could likely be dubbed the most epic sandcastle ever.
All of this and much more is possible at the beaches of Texas. Now, we know that when you think of sun, sand, surf, and sailfish the Lone Star State might not be what your mind first conjures up. But with more than 350 miles of shoreline, Texas offers ample opportunities to indulge in your favorite beach pastime and bask in the beauty of the Texas Gulf Coast. To that end, we have put together our list of the best Texas beaches. So grab your sunscreen and let's check them out...
Best Beach for Fishing in Texas
Widely referred to as the 'Fishing Capital of Texas', Port A, as it's called, offers up fishing adventures for both serious and casual anglers alike. Fish right off the pier for chance to hook black drum, red drum, catfish, flounder, channel cat, and trout. Or, if you prefer, hire a charter or take off in your own boat and head for the deeper Gulf waters and try for kingfish, ling, mahi-mahi, Spanish mackerel, and even small sharks. The best part? There are even a few restaurants near Port Aransas that will clean and prepare your catch for a small fee. Yum!
Best Family Beach in Texas
Galveston Island State Park
A favorite for Houstonians, the Travel Channel named it one of the 'Best Gulf Coast Beaches' in 2013.Spend a fun day at the beach swimming, fishing, or kayaking. The park also offers great learning opportunities for adults and children alike with fishing clinics, nature field trips, and bird walks. Hiking and mountain bike riding are also favorites. You'll surely be tired after all that activity, so rest up at any of the beach campsites. Suitable for both RVs and tents, each site has electric and water services, as well as a fire ring, picnic table, and shade shelter. A bonus: Coastal Living Magazine named Galveston, specifically the island's western end, as one of the Top 10 Shelling Beaches in the U.S.
Best Camping Beach in Texas
Mustang Island State Park
Whether you'd rather pitch a tent and rough it, or plug in the camper for a few more creature comforts, you're sure to find the perfect spot here. For those of you who lean more 'primitive', there are a total of 300 drive up campsites along a 1.5 mile strip of beach. After renting your fishing rod at the park, you'll be able to cook up your own private catch of the day at your tent-side campfire. There are also 48 RV campsites with 50 amp and water hookups, as well as shade shelter, picnic table, outdoor grill, and nearby restrooms. In addition, the park has a store for snacks, drinks, and some supplies in case you forgot the toothpaste.
Best Surfing Beach in Texas
This quaint little village (population 482 as of the 2010 census) is certainly aptly named, as it boasts some of the most consistent and best surf along the Texas coast. The deeper waters found here allow swells to pass without diminishing the wave size from the drag of more shallow water. The jetty is also partly responsible for the good surf conditions, as it blocks the side shore winds while permitting the swell to wrap very cleanly onto the beach. While there, you might want to take a horse ride, spend some time at the crabbing pier, or visit Jetty Park for a wonderful view of the Gulf of Mexico and ship channel. Surfside is also home of the well-known Fort Velasco.
Best 'Get Away From it All' Beach in Texas
Boca Chica Beach
This southernmost beach in Texas is separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande river and is the perfect place to have some peace and quiet. Enjoy swimming, fishing, snorkeling, and more; just don't think you'll pop in to the local beach-side restaurant, as there are no amenities on the beach. This pristine stretch of coastline is also home to the ocelot, of which an estimated 50 live in the U.S., all in south Texas. You'll also be accompanied by several species of sea turtle, as well as a myriad of birds. History buffs will appreciate the Palmito Hill Battlefield, site of the last land battle of the Civil War. You'll want to hurry and visit Boca Chica soon, though; as of this writing it is the proposed site of Elon Musk's SpaceX venture.
Best Beach in Texas for Bird Watchers
If birding is your cup of tea, Matagorda Beach is where you want to be. Claiming the number one spot on the North American Audubon Christmas Bird Count since 1997, it is also home to the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center. Here, birders can take a golf cart from river to marshland to forest, rent a boat to explore the Colorado river, or stroll along the paths searching for new specimens. With over 300 species making their homes here, your avian adventures are sure to be exciting.
Best Cleanest Beach in Texas
Named one of the cleanest beaches in the U.S. by the Clean Beaches Coalition, Rockport beach is the ideal place for swimming, boating, fishing, and more. Parents love the warm, calm, shallow waters- ideal for wading and swimming with the little ones. If they'd prefer, take them to a playground along the beachfront. Then, if all of this isn't enough for you, hit the exercise trail, complete with workout stations with instructions. Later, have a bite at any of the 61 picnic sites, complete with shade cover and grill and follow up with a nap under a beachside palapa. Fun fact: Rockport Beach has been named one of the 'Ten Best Places to Fly a Kite in the U.S.'
Best Overall Beach in Texas
South Padre Island
South Padre tops many a favorite Texas beach list, and rightly so. With 34 miles of beaches, there is something here for every age and excitement level. The boisterous spring break crowd famously loves the island for its great weather, fun beach bars, 'big brand'-sponsored entertainment, bungee jumping, banana boats, and general party atmosphere. If that's not your thing, plan a visit during the other 11 ½ months of the year for a seemingly endless list of fun and entertainment: bay and deep sea fishing, kiteboarding, parasailing, dolphin watching, horseback riding, sandcastle building classes, as well as fabulous shopping, dining, and nightlife. Nature lovers will love the world-renowned Sea Turtle Inc.; you can even attend a sea turtle release and watch the adorable creatures make their way to the ocean for the first time. The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center also provides a wealth of information about the flora and fauna of the island.
So there you have it- our spin on the best Texas beaches. No matter which one you choose, we know you'll leave with more with more than sand in your shoe; you'll have plenty of sunny memories that will last a lifetime.