Cowboys, barbecues, and… Beaches? You might not associate the Lone Star State with sandy shores and clear blue waters, and it’s true that its beaches cannot hold a candle to Hawaii’s. We’ll be honest – from the spring breakers on South Padre Island to the beaches that are more dirt than sand, it can be hard to find a real beach. But some Texas beaches stand out from the others – you just have to know where to go! Here are the best Texas beaches and beach towns to visit in the Lone Star State.
1. Padre Island National Seashore
For a rustic and off-the-beaten-path beach experience in Texas, check out Padre Island National Seashore. Located on North Padre Island, it is actually the longest undeveloped stretch of coastline on a barrier island in the entire world. Visitors can camp directly on the sand or find a quiet spot to lay down a mat for the day. Kayaking and snorkeling are also possible in Laguna Madre, and wildlife lovers can see sea turtle hatchling releases in the summer. If you’re looking to go to the island’s more remote beaches, make sure you have four-wheel drive.
2. Port Aransas
For a family-friendly beach vacation, Port Aransas on Mustang Island might be just what you’re looking for. Ranking as one of the top 10 best family beaches in America, convenience is key here. Laid-back restaurants and rentals line the 18-mile-long beach, where activities include parasailing, kayaking and surfing. Facilities like outdoor showers and bathrooms are also well-maintained, and you can rent a golf cart to haul everyone around. Head over to Roberts Point Park for picnic tables, playground, sweeping views of the bay and maybe even a dolphin sighting or two!
Rockport is another Texan beach town perfect for family fun. Rockport Beach is also the only Blue Wave beach in Texas, which means it is super clean and completely free of litter! Lots of effort goes into it, and this also means that cars, dogs, bonfires, fireworks, and campsites are prohibited. Locals spend time swimming, playing beach volleyball, fishing off the pier and lazing in the thatch-roof umbrella that line the beach. In town, there are many unique shops and excellent restaurants, and you can also visit the Texas Maritime Museum for a history lesson!
4. Boca Chica Beach
Located across the Rio Grande, Boca Chica is a laid back destination and one of the most beautiful Texas beaches. This is as close to Mexico as you can get without actually crossing the border! It may lack the bells and whistles of other beach towns, but it is as rustic and untouched as they come. The lack of overdevelopment is what makes Boca Chica so special. It’s a great place if you want to slow down, put out an umbrella and read a book.
5. Surfside Beach
True to its name, Surfside Beach is one of the best Texas beaches for surfing. Like Rockport, Surfside Beach has some of the cleanest sand and clearest water you’ll find in Texas. Unlike Rockport, however, the rules here are much more relaxed. Campfires and leashed dogs are allowed on the beach, and cars are allowed on specific sections for a fee. The town is small and quiet, making it the place to experience island life, Texas style.