Planning a trip to the Lone Star state? Forget football and Texas BBQ and head to the quaint Gulf Coast barrier island of Galveston for some downtime. With a spectacular 32-mile coastline of sun-soaked shores, there’s no better way to unwind than on the best beaches in Galveston, TX.
Just 50 miles from Houston, Galveston is surrounded by the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, offering travelers a range of fun in the sun. From water activities like swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, and parasailing to sunbathing and combing the beach for shells, explore some of the island’s finest shorelines on your Texas vacation with this complete Galveston beach guide!
Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.
The largest beach on the barrier island, Galveston’s East Beach is a favorite with vacationers. Located on the east end of the island at R.A. Apffel Beach Park, the 80-acre beach park has all the amenities you need for the day.
The park hosts several casual restaurants, plenty of picnic tables, and an entertainment pavilion. You can also rent chairs, cabanas, and umbrellas. East Beach has a laid-back summer beach vibe, and there’s always an event or festival on.
East Beach has several entrances with ample parking. Take a gentle hike through this tranquil reserve before hitting the beach to see a myriad of native birds and wildlife. You can also enjoy fishing and kayaking in the park.
For a fantastic family-friendly beach, head to Stewart Beach. Situated where Broadway meets the Seawall, Stewart Beach is ideal for children, with restrooms, eateries, and professional lifeguards on duty.
Rent a cabana or beach umbrella for the day and enjoy plenty of family-centric activities, from cornhole and volleyball to giant Jenga. You’ll also find a lovely playground near the beach for the kids if they get bored of building sandcastles and swimming.
There’s a fee to park at Stewart Beach. Something else to keep in mind – lifeguards and concessions are only available during the beach season, which runs from March to October.
Galveston Island State Park
If you’re an activity and nature lover, then visiting Galveston Island State Park is a must! Located on the western side of Galveston, this protected area is a haven for outdoor recreation.
Four miles of hiking and biking trails of varying difficulties and distances wind their way through the beautiful scenery of Galveston Island State Park. The Heron’s Walk Trail is a wonderful meander through marshes and salt flats and a fantastic place to spot wading birds.
Fishing is allowed beachside and in the bay area, and you bring your own canoe or kayak to enjoy one of the Galveston Island State Park Paddling Trails. Find a spot on the wide sandy beach and spend the day swimming and relaxing.
Galveston’s Sunny Beach is a hidden gem on the west side of the island. Just a few miles past the Seawall in Galveston, the wide beach is exceptionally clean and often uncrowded. It’s a drive-on beach with hard-packed sand, so you don’t have to lug all your beach gear across the sand.
The quiet beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and strolling. Kids will love the small waves, and it’s dog-friendly, so you take your four-legged friend with you. Head to Sunny Beach in the early morning for pure seclusion and tranquility.
Located within the small municipality of the same name on the southeast coast of Galveston Island, Jamaica Beach is the ideal beach for families, thanks to its soft sand and calm water.
Just a short drive from Galveston City, Jamaica Beach is ideal for a one-day beach getaway from Galveston or as a day trip from Houston. Clean and beautiful with fine, brown sand, it’s a great spot for beachcombing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
You’ll find some lovely seashells along the shoreline when the tide changes. Look out for sand dollars that have washed ashore on a morning walk.
For a laid-back lunch, grab some delicious food at the few casual restaurants sprinkled around the coastline. If you’re looking to spend the night, the Jamaica Beach RV Resort is right across the street from the beach.
Just west of Stewart Beach, Porretto Beach is a secluded beach with beautiful views and a relaxing atmosphere. This stretch of Gulf of Mexico coastline sees fewer crowds of beachgoers than the busy beaches along the famous Seawall Boulevard and is lovely and clean.
The shallow water at Porretto Beach is perfect for paddling, and there are lifeguards on duty, so it’s a popular spot for families. Rent chairs and umbrellas instead of lugging your own along. The calm, clear water is perfect for canoeing and stand-up paddling.
Porretto Beach has easy access and is close to plenty of food outlets and restroom facilities. Alcohol is permitted here, too, making it the perfect spot for sundowners in the evening.
Palm Beach at Moody Gardens
The beautiful Palm Beach at Moody Gardens is the go-to spot to beat the heat of summer. This pristine private white sandy beach is attached to Moody Gardens, one of the top tourist destinations in Galveston. The family-friendly water park features tower slides, water rides, a wave pool, and a 650-foot lazy river that promises a ton of fun in the sun.
When you’ve had your fill of adrenaline-rushing rides, the sandy shores of Palm Beach offer a tranquil respite. Lounge beneath swaying palm trees and large umbrellas on comfy beach chairs and soak up the views.
Palm Beach transforms into a party zone during the family-friendly Beats on the Beach event, with live DJs rocking their tunes into the night. Dance under the stars or kick back along the Lazy River to great music and warm gulf breezes.
If you’re a fan of submarines, warships, and all things Navy, don’t miss Seawolf Park. Located on Galveston’s Pelican Island, Seawolf Park is a fantastic place to spend the day with the family.
Set on a former immigration station site, the park is home to the Galveston Naval Museum and two decommissioned vessels, including the WWII submarine, the USS Cavalla, and the USS Stewart destroyer escort.
Wander around the Galveston Naval Museum and discover the stories of the vessels docked on the island. You can also see the remains of the WWI tanker S.S. Selma just northwest of Seawolf Park’s fishing pier.
Watch or join the fishermen on one of the island’s most popular fishing piers and enjoy a laid-back lunch at one of the many picturesque picnic sites dotted about the island.
For the best swimming in Galveston, head to Babe’s Beach. Named for Texas state senator Babe Schwartz, Babe’s Beach is renowned for its stunning water and beach activities. Backed by the historic seawall, the mile-long beach is close to plenty of restaurants and beach shops.
If you’re looking to combine exploring central Galveston with a beach visit, Babe’s Beach is within walking distance of Galveston’s 61st Street Pier. Spend the morning on the beach before venturing to the pier for lunch and souvenir shopping.
San Luis Beach
Located at the southern tip of Galveston Island, San Luis Beach is a hidden gem. Known as the West End by Texans, this wild beach wraps around from the Gulf of Mexico to West Bay and is breathtakingly beautiful.
Although not a great beach for swimming as there are dangerous currents, San Luis Beach is a fantastic spot for taking in the rugged natural scenery. The tall dunes here are home to nesting seabirds—take your binoculars for some birdwatching if you’re a twitcher!
San Luis Beach is only accessed off-road, so you’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle. If you do get stuck, though, friendly locals with trucks/SUVs are usually more than happy to pull you out of the sand.
Sylvan Beach Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and make your way to Sylvan Beach Park. Located in Harris County, this 32-acre beachside park has a fine white sandy beach and beautiful views over Galveston Bay.
Have fun with the kids in the small waves, build castles in the sand, or relax at one of the picnic tables and enjoy lunch with a view.
There’s a playground for the little ones when they are done swimming, and an air-conditioned pavilion is available for special occasions. You can launch a small boat from the beach and fish from the pier for a small fee.
Ahoy! If you’re looking to relax and unwind, the spectacular Pirates Beach is your spot. Located on the west end of the island next to the Galveston Island State Park, the beach has beautifully clean, fine white sand and clear waters.
While you won’t see shipwrecks and buried treasure here, the name of the beach relates to Galveston’s rich history of piracy and privateers. Galveston was a main port of call for pirates in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including the infamous Jean Lafitte.
Seawall Urban Park
Stretching for 10 miles along the central coastline of the island, Seawall Urban Park follows Seawall Boulevard, the longest continuous promenade in the country.
Running from 39th Street to 53rd Street, Seawall Boulevard is a hot spot for cyclists, joggers, and walkers in the mornings. The boulevard bustles with beachgoers later in the day, along with visitors heading to the many restaurants and convenience stores nearby.
There are plenty of shaded picnic benches and pavilions along the sidewalk. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier amusement park stands on a pier over the Gulf of Mexico at Seawall and 25th Street. This classic seaside amusement park boasts a rollercoaster and rides, carnival games, and souvenir shops – guaranteed fun for the whole family!
Nestled between Spanish Grant and Pirates’ Beach, Bermuda Beach offers a quiet escape from the crowds of busier central Galveston beaches. Set on the island’s west end, this lovely stretch of sandy shoreline is renowned for being a good place to find seashells and sand dollars.
You can access Bermuda Beach from access point 12 along the San Luis Pass roadway. The shoreline is ideal for an early morning walk or a sunset stroll. If you plan to spend a few hours here, keep in mind that there are no public restrooms on this beach.
Terramer Beach is a quaint and off-the-beaten-track beach on the west end of the island. This lovely flat beach has easy access and on-beach parking.
Hard-packed sand makes Terramer Beach ideal for walking, jogging, or watching the sunset from the comfort of your car. It’s also a great spot to try skimboarding in the shallows.
Venture further to the Bolivar Peninsula, where you’ll find the spectacular Crystal Beach. Getting there requires a short ferry ride, but the extra effort is well worth it. You’ll be rewarded with long stretches of white sandy beaches and azure blue waters.
Hop on the free Bolivar Ferry to get to the Bolivar Peninsula. The ferry runs regularly throughout the year from the east end of Galveston. During the 15-minute ride over, keep an eye out for pods of dolphins swimming next to the boat.
The semi-hard sand of the long sandy beach is perfect for beachcombing or jogging. Spend the day sunbathing, swimming, and people-watching. Pop into Stingaree Restaurant for a bite to eat and fantastic sea views.