Texas boasts some gorgeous shores on the Gulf of Mexico, but a few Texas beaches top the list as traveler favorites. Check out the best beaches in Texas to visit for warm water, soft sand, and endless sunshine!
From Beach Coast to South Padre Island, you’ll discover some of the most amazing beaches in the state of Texas in this guide. Each one offers something different, so browse the best beaches to find your ideal beach below.
What Are the Best Beaches in Texas?
Texas beaches may not come close to Florida’s in terms of popularity and miles of coastline, but they offer a refreshingly laid-back opportunity to spend time on the shore and enjoy the calm, warm water of the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas has a lot of beaches – with almost 370 miles of sandy coastline, the broad shores of Texas are excellent spots for a less-crowded beach vacation with all the sunshine, sand, and beachfront attractions or secluded beauty you’d expect.
About 77% of Texas’ coastline is made up of public beaches, so your opportunities to get your toes in the sand are vast and widespread around the southern coast and barrier islands.
But what are the very best beaches in Texas? Whether you’re looking for secluded shores or family-friendly beaches with tons of attractions nearby, there’s a beach for everyone here.
- Padre Island National Seashore
- Boca Chica Beach
- Galveston Island State Park
- Rockport Beach
- Malaquite Beach
- Mustang Island State Park
- Surfside Beach
- South Padre Island Beach
The list includes visitor and local favorites like Padre Island National Seashore, Boca Chica Beach, Galveston Island Seawall Beach, Rockport Beach, Malaquite Beach, Mustang Island, Surfside Beach, and South Padre Island Beach.
From secluded island shores accessible only by ferry to bustling beaches with a party vibe, you’re about to discover how diverse and stunning the best beaches in Texas really are.
The 8 Best Beaches in Texas
Whether you’re looking for the perfect family-friendly beach vacation with tons of activities along the shore or a more secluded, natural beach experience, the best beaches in Texas await you.
From pristine, white sand beaches that sprawl for miles in either direction or the natural brown sand beaches with incredible shells hidden along the shore, there’s a Texas beach that’s perfect for your trip.
Keep reading to learn more about the 8 best beaches in Texas and see which one will be the perfect fit for you – each one promises sand, surf, and sunshine!
1. Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore is a sprawling 66 miles of untouched coastline on a barrier island off the coast of Texas. This is a long, natural beach and a favorite spot for wildlife viewing and relaxation.
A 15-minute journey from Corpus Christi brings you to Padre Island National Seashore (PINS), which is home to white sand, warm Gulf water, and a beautiful wildness that delights every beachgoer.
Shelling, swimming, windsurfing, kayaking, fishing, camping, and viewing marine and wildlife (dolphins and pelicans galore!) will keep you busy on the almost 70 miles of shoreline along PINS.
You can drive right up to the shore here, making beach days with family or young children more convenient with a low entrance fee of $10/car.
A museum, visitor’s center, and book shop make great stops when you’re ready to get out of the sun!
2. Boca Chica Beach
Boca Chica Beach is a beautiful, natural beach inside Boca Chica State Park in South Padre Island. SpaceX is very close by and makes a great day trip for families who want to see rockets!
It’s not a tourist beach with tons of activities, but that’s why people enjoy Boca Chica Beach so much. It’s quiet, secluded, and private for a relaxing day on the sand.
Shelling is great here, with large, intact shells all along the shore to pick up and examine. Fishing is another favorite beach activity here, and less angler competition means bigger and better catches!
Go snorkeling, try surfing, grill up dinner on a grill, or sit and soak up the sun in a comfy beach chair as you listen to the waves crash. The water is warm and relatively calm here, plus you can drive onto the beach!
If you’re up for continuing the trip, head down to the Mexican border and the Rio Grande – just make sure you bring your passport!
3. Galveston Island Seawall Beach
For the ideal family vacation that’s packed with beachfront attractions along a gorgeous, white sand shore, look no further than Galveston Island’s Seawall Beach.
The first thing you’ll notice about Seawall Beach is the enticing Pleasure Pier amusement park on the pier jutting out into the Gulf of Mexico. Roller coasters, Ferris wheels, rides, games, and food are just feet away from the beach.
But the beach itself will amaze you with its soft, white sand that continues on for 32 miles across the island. There’s plenty of room to set up your chair and umbrella to spend a day in the sun!
This oceanfront hotspot attracts lots of tourists, but doesn’t feel too crowded even during peak season because it’s so roomy.
Nicknamed the Playground of the South, Galveston’s Seawall Beach is the perfect spot to visit if hanging out on the shore is only the beginning of your beach trip plans.
Head to Pleasure Pier for a fun-filled day, head to the nearby Galveston Island State Park to kayak, fish, or enjoy wildlife, play a round of mini golf, see glass pyramids and zip line at Moody Gardens, or visit nearby museums while you’re here.
You can even check out the live sea cam to get a sense of traffic, weather, and how crowded the beach is on a given day.
4. Rockport Beach
Rockport Beach is a visitor favorite in Texas and it’s easy to see why. This mile-long crescent-shaped shore curves around Aransas Bay with palms and tiki umbrellas setting the scene.
You’ll find a free daily use area as well as other areas with a $10/car entrance fee (both are great). In the summer, food trucks line up to serve beachgoers. You can also walk to nearby restaurants and bars!
Since it’s on the bay, the water here is gentle, shallow, and warm, making it perfect for families with young children or those who enjoy a less intense day on the water.
The shallow water extends out for about 150 yards, meaning you can walk in the surf without needing to swim for quite a distance. It’s a lot like hanging out on a sand bar.
The beach is kept clean and pristine with covered pavilions, restrooms, and parking close by for convenience. This is a great Texas beach to spend a day or two soaking up the sunshine and playing in the calm water!
5. Malaquite Beach
Malaquite Beach is part of Padre Island National Seashore, but it deserves its own spot on the list! Part of Closed Beach on the PINS, Malaquite is known for its serene vibes and unspoiled oceanfront beauty.
While it’s somewhat wild at Malaquite Beach, you’ll still find restrooms, showers, and accessible parking nearby. Clean, clear water that stays pretty calm is another bonus to visiting this beach.
Shelling is great on Malaquite Beach, and you’ll be able to find large specimens lodged in the soft sand all along the shore. The larger beach area, Closed Beach, gets its name because it’s closed to vehicles (unlike many Texas beaches).
You’ll enjoy fishing, bird watching, grilling, camping, snorkeling, and swimming on Malaquite Beach as you take in the natural setting. While the usual tourist attractions are lacking, you won’t miss the noise and crowds one bit!
Since it’s part of PINS, there’s a $10/car entrance fee. But visitors agree it’s more than worth it with very few crowds and such spectacular beach conditions.
6. Mustang Island State Park
Located in Port Aransas, Texas, Mustang Island State Park features 5 miles of sandy beaches and coastal dunes that are perfect for water sports and activities or total rest and relaxation.
Go biking or hike the trails around the park that their way across the island, fish the abundant waters, or watch over 400 species of birds fly overhead.
You’ll find amenities like restrooms, covered pavilions, a pet-friendly zone, park store, and ranger-led programs for kids and adults here in the park.
The scenery is gorgeous here, offering a look at the wild side of Texas with the amenities of a public beach to make things a little more comfortable.
There’s a $5/car entrance fee to use the beach, but you’re paying for a more secluded and natural beach experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, head to Mustang Island State Park.
7. Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach is a popular beach destination located on Follet’s Island and it’s easily one of the best beaches in Texas. As a drivable beach, people love coming here to spend an entire day on the shore and in the water!
The sand is soft and white, making it very comfortable to walk and play in. It’s great for building sand castles! Fishing, grilling, swimming, bird watching, and snorkeling are fun activities to try here.
Shells are abundant and easy to find along the shore, though the real draw here is the surf.
You’ll find some of the best waves on the Texas coast right here at Surfside Beach, where the swells are consistent thanks to the deeper water and long jetties that direct the waves.
Restaurants are plentiful nearby if you don’t want to pack a lunch. You’ll need a permit to drive on the beach (around $12 at stores nearby) if you don’t want to park or stay at a beachfront hotel.
8. South Padre Island Beach
South Padre Island Beach is well developed, and you’ll find plenty of spots for shade, picnics, and grabbing a bite to eat or playing a round of mini golf. Restrooms and a long boardwalk are other benefits here!
The sand here is a natural brown color, with areas boasting softer white sand if that’s your preference. Areas are hard packed and suitable to drive on.
Try fishing off the jetty that extends into the Gulf, go kitesurfing, pick up intact shells along the shore, see the largest outdoor sand castle in the USA, or check out the turtle sanctuary to see sea turtles.
It’s a popular beach, but it never gets too crowded with 34 miles of shoreline on South Padre Island giving everyone plenty of room to spread out.
This beach is dog-friendly with warm, calm water thanks to its location on the Gulf of Mexico, so it’s a great spot to bring the entire family.
Things to Consider
What else should you know about visiting some of the best beaches in Texas? Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your southern beach vacation in the Lone Star State.
- You might see cars on the beach. Not by the beach – on the beach. That’s because many of the best beaches in Texas allow vehicles to drive right on the shore where the sand is hard packed. It’s because beaches in Texas were historically used as roads, and the tradition continues on today. If you don’t like the idea of driving onto the beach or having cars parked nearby, head to beaches with closed vehicle access like Malaquite Beach.
- Expect a lot of shells. If you’ve never been to a Texas beach, you might be surprised by the number of shells lodged in the sand along the shore and within the shallow water. Global water currents deliver shells (mollusks) right up to the Texas coast en masse, making the beaches excellent spots for shelling you won’t find on many popular beaches in other states.
- Get used to Texas sand. The sand along most Texas beaches has a brownish color due to the sediment that washes up from the Mississippi and Trinity River deltas. It’s not quite as pristine in appearance as the Emerald Coast in Florida, but it’s just as enjoyable with a soft feel and excellent packing ability for sand castles!
- Take long walks down the beach. Many of the best beaches in Texas are vast and sprawl out for miles, making them the perfect places to take one of those long, romantic walks along the shore. Take a solo stroll or bring your dog (as long as the beach permits it), spouse, or kids to enjoy the scenery and wildlife as you stroll along the beach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about visiting the best beaches in Texas by taking a look at the most frequently asked questions below. You might learn something new that makes you even more excited to come and see the Texas coast!
What is the prettiest beach in Texas?
Rockport Beach may be the prettiest beach in Texas, thanks to Blue Wave certification that ensures it’s kept clean and pristine with no litter or trash taking away from the beauty.
Padre Island National Seashore and Malaquite Beach share this certification and are other beautiful beaches in Texas.
What beach in Texas has the clearest water?
Mustang Island State Park, Surfside Beach, Boca Chica Beach, and the Padre Island National Seashore boast the clearest water in Texas. At these beaches, you’ll find crystal clear water that isn’t murky due sediment or storms stirring up the shallow Gulf water.
Some beaches in Texas can get murky right after a storm, but once the sediment settles, the beautiful clarity returns.
Is Galveston or Corpus Christi better?
If you’re bringing kids to the beach or want plenty of activities to do off the shore, Galveston is better than Corpus Christi. Pleasure Pier amusement park, mini golf, zip lining, theaters, restaurants, and more make Galveston a better beach for attractions.
The Corpus Christi area offers really nice beaches, however, and may be better if you’re looking for a more secluded, less crowded trip to the beach.
Are there any white sand beaches in Texas?
Yes, there are several white sand beaches in Texas. While you won’t find the same fine “sugar sand” you’ll see along northern Florida beaches, there are white sand beaches like Mustang Island State Park, Boca Chica Beach on South Padre Island, and Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.
Do any beaches in Texas have blue water?
Yes, but it’s rare to see blue water at a Texas beach simply due to the sediment from nearby river deltas and the shallower water of the Gulf of Mexico.
Galveston Island has blue water during certain times of the year and South Padre Island is known for nice, blue water that’s not usually murky.
So, Which of the Best Beaches in Texas Looks Inviting?
There’s no doubt that everything in Texas is bigger, and the vast, beautiful beaches here are no exception. With 370 miles of coastline, it’s not hard to find an amazing beach in Texas.
The best beaches in Texas span categories, from quiet and secluded shores to bustling hubs of beachfront activity that keep the whole family entertained.
You can choose from beaches that let you drive right onto the sand or more remote beach destinations within state and national parks to enjoy a serene, natural experience.
Whatever your beach goals are, make sure you visit one of the best beaches in Texas when you head down south if you want to experience the pinnacle of what the Lone Star State has to offer!