By Justin Wood
Texans drift toward the Gulf every summer to catch a sweet sea breeze and let their everyday worries melt away. With 350 miles of coastline, Texas offers beach getaways that can transport you to starlit wilderness or neon nightlife, with amenities to suit any taste. Here's a sampling of some of our favorite beaches.
Photo © Images from Texas
NORTH BEACH SOUTH PADRE ISLAND
Sure, there are noteworthy attractions on South Padre Island, but if you long for seclusion, drive north and discover the beaches between the tourist haven and the Port Mansfield Channel. Migrating birds “fall out” here to the delight of watchers; Kemp’s ridley turtles lay their eggs in the warm sand every summer.
Photo © Erich Schlegel
MATAGORDA BEACH MATAGORDA
With a permit, you can drive the Matagorda Beach for miles east of the Colorado River, but the western half is accessible only by watercraft. Calm days are perfect for paddling, and there’s free camping on the beach for up to 72 hours.
Photo © Carlos Muñez
BOCA CHICA BEACH BROWNSVILLE
Boca Chica’s 8 miles of quiet beaches may look uneventful, but there’s no shortage of activities at this former state park at the southernmost tip of Texas. Visitors to the area can fish, swim, surf or just sit back and enjoy the overwhelming sense of tranquility, since there’s hardly ever a crowd.
Photo © Jerry Hopman
ROCKPORT BEACH ROCKPORT
Boasting Texas’ first designated Blue Wave Beach, Rockport offers one of the most family-friendly beach experiences in the state. This bayfront beach is known for its smooth and shallow water, making it easy to swim, while nonswimmers can take advantage of amenities like shaded picnic areas and volleyball courts.
Photo © Kathy Adams Clark/KAC Productions
MUSTANG ISLAND STATE PARK PORT ARANSAS
A beach area with something for everyone, the park offers more than 5 miles of coastline. Named for the wild mustangs that used to roam there, Mustang Island State Park is home to diverse wildlife, including land and sea creatures. Take advantage of the paddling trails or kayak along the coastline. Camping and campfires are allowed in designated areas (camping is closed for now because of hurricane damage).
Photo © Jonathan Vail
PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE CORPUS CHRISTI
Home to the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, Padre Island National Seashore is perfect for a peaceful getaway. With 130,000 acres of grasslands, dunes and beaches, visitors can swim, surf, kayak or enjoy a walk on the Grasslands Nature Trail. Both RV and tent camping are allowed in certain areas.