Few things are more synonymous with summer than the sounds of crashing waves and the feeling of a warm sea breeze. Going to the beach is at the top of most people’s list of things to do in the summer, and if you’re in Texas you are spoiled for choice. After all the Gulf Coast is lined with gorgeous beaches where you can bake in the sun, play in the water, and build amazing (to you, anyway) sand castles.
While these coastal hotspots offer everything you need for a family getaway, vacation with friends, or a romantic retreat, each has something that sets it apart. Read on to discover some of our favorite spots on the Gulf Coast. Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen!
To escape the summer crowds that hang out on Galveston’s beaches, catch the Port Bolivar – Galveston Ferry north to Bolivar Peninsula. Here you’ll find an endless stretch of sparsely populated shoreline and waters ideal for fishing, surfing, and swimming. When you’re not at the beach, check out the live music scene in Crystal Beach and the historic Bolivar Point Lighthouse.
If you’re a beachgoing Texan, then this one may seem like a no brainer. After all, South Padre Island is famous for its crystal clear turquoise waters and soft white sand beaches. Any stay here is magic from the moment you cruise over the Queen Isabella Causeway. Whether you hang out on the beach, enjoy the rides at Schlitterbahn Beach Waterpark, ride a horse on the beach, or soar on a zip line, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy your time here.
Tour Texas Tip: South Padre Island is also an exceedingly popular destination for the Spring Break crowd. If you want a quiet getaway, stay at any other time than early March.
If you don’t want to be too far from the big city but you’re still wanting some sun, sand, and surf, Galveston’s Seawall Beach is for you. That’s especially true after the recent $20 million makeover that added plenty of new sand to the beach. Not only is there plenty of space to soak up the sun, you’ll only be steps away from a wealth of seafood restaurants and burger joints and some of the island’s top attractions.
Tour Texas Tip: Get to the beach early as it can get pretty busy.
To truly get away from it all, it’s hard to beat the Padre Island National Seashore. Housing 70 miles of protected coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats, the seashore is a natural wonderland. Dip your toes into the warm and inviting waters at Malaquite Beach, a scenic stretch of sand where it’s just you and the ocean (and thanks to the no cars rule, a more relaxed vibe). Yet the beach is just your entry point into a world of adventure.
Looking for a bit of peace and quiet? Make the 40-minute drive down the gorgeous Bluewater Highway to Surfside, where colorful stilt houses line expansive stretches of sandy beach. While the sunbathing and swimming are sublime, Surfside Beach is also fantastic for fishing and surfing. The unusually deep waters just off the shore means you can catch fish often found much further off the coast from the pier. The greater depth also helps create consistent waves perfect for showing off your skills.
Best For: Fishing, Kayaking, Swimming, Surfing
City: Surfside Beach
Region: Gulf Coast
While the five miles of peaceful coastline at Mustang Island State Park makes it an ideal place for some awesome sunbathing, it’s everything else the park has to offer that makes it a winner. Camp on the beach and listen to the rolling surf as you fall asleep. Watch coastal birds fly overhead as you paddle along the 20-mile-long Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail. Needless to say, if you’re looking to add a walk on the wild side to your Texas beach getaway, look no further.
Breathe in the sweet sea breeze and watch the inviting waves from the shade of an old-fashioned cabana. Listen to the palm trees around you sway in the wind and you might just start thinking you’re on a secluded tropical island. Instead, you’re at Rockport Beach in the charming coastal village of Rockport.
Known as Texas’s first Blue Wave Beach (a designation given to beaches that are cleaned and managed to ensure environmental quality), Rockport Beach is just as well suited for family trips as it is for vacations with your sweetheart. Whether you enjoy swimming in the calm surf, fishing, or even windsurfing, you’ll find all you can handle here.
North Texas may be the last place you’d expect to find a beach, but the one at Eisenhower State Park is worth the effort. Crystalline blue water meets soft sand in this peaceful cove surrounded by limestone cliffs. Lay out your sunbathing towel and, after a moment or two, you might just think you’ve made the trip out to the Gulf Coast.
Our other non-coastal beach resides within none other than Garner State Park, a one-of-a-kind oasis of limestone cliffs and verdant mesquite trees where the pristine waters of the Frio River flow. One of the most popular spots to swim in the river is at Rocky Beach, so named because it’s, well, rocky. Wade into the clear and chilly water, or kick back on the beach, and take in all the breathtaking beauty that surrounds you.
With 21 miles of totally unspoiled coastline, San Jose Island is the kind of place to go when you want to get away from it all. Along with its immaculate beaches covered in an array of shells to hunt for, the island is rich with wildlife with more than 600 species of fish and 300 types of native birds. To get here, you can take the short passenger ferry from Fisherman’s Wharf in Port Aransas.
“Location, location, location” sums up what this beach park in Port Aransas has to offer. Situated on the northernmost point of Mustang Island just a few minutes from a plethora of restaurants and funky surf shops, this beach offers tons of convenience along with its plush sands and blue surf. Play, surf, and swim, then stop by Keepers for a bite to eat. The seafood restaurant sits on the Horace Caldwell Pier, where the fishing for shark, tarpon, king mackerel, red and black drum, and speckled sea trout is
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About the Author: James Waterson is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing about the many great places in the state of Texas, he’s planning his next epic adventure in the Lone Star State.
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