17 Most Beautiful Beaches to Visit in Texas On Your Gulf Coast Getaway

Craving a unique seaside getaway? Don’t miss out on diving into the waters of the best beaches in Texas. While not as popular as other coastal destinations in the Southern US, the Lone Star State is jam-packed with beautiful beaches, perfect for solo travelers, couples, and families alike.

If you like party-centric beaches, head to South Padre Island, Texas’s own tropical paradise. On the other hand, families can find their groove around Corpus Christi. If you’re looking for a quieter and more secluded beach experience not far from the city, check out Galveston Island.

Ready to plan the ultimate Texas beach vacation? Knock off your coastal itinerary with this guide to the top-rated Texas beaches.

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Boca Chica Beach

Looking to kick back and enjoy the quiet beauty of nature? Drive down to Boca Chica Beach in the heart of Boca Chica State Park. Uncovered north of Mexico across the Rio Grande, Boca Chica is a peaceful Texas beach where you can relax in the soft sand and soak up the sand.

Boca Chica Beach

Boca Chica Beach doesn’t offer as many activities as South Padre Island, making it less popular than its neighbor. Still, while you’re here, you can gaze at more than 380 species of birds. Relish in peace and solitude by taking long walks or fishing in the Gulf waters.

If you feel like indulging in water activities, choose to go swimming, snorkeling, or surfing in the calm waters. Remember to bring your own equipment; Boca Chica Beach doesn’t offer rentals.

Port Aransas Beach

Want to let go of all your worries? Make Port Aransas Beach your next seaside stop while traveling through Texas. Positioned on Mustang Island, this beautiful beach boasts a wide shoreline, providing ample space for all beach-goers.

Port Aransas Beach

Dive in the crystal-clear water or go surfing and ride the tides. If you’re traveling with kids, use the soft sand of Port Aransas Beach to teach them how to build sandcastles and engage in quality family time.

If you’re traveling as a couple, set your beach chairs, chit-chat, and enjoy the cloudless sky views or take long walks while enjoying the sunset for the ultimate romantic getaway.

Surfside Beach

Enjoy kayaking? Set yourself en route to Surfside Beach in Brazoria County. Situated on Follet’s Island by the Gulf of Mexico nearby Freeport, the sandy beach will provide unforgettable memories for your Texas vacation.

Surfside Beach

Rent a kayak or a paddleboard and spend some quality time in the water. The waves at Surfside Beach are gentle, making it the perfect spot for swimming as well.

If you love exploring marine life, Surfside Beach is deep enough to bring you close to some of the state’s finest on a snorkeling trip. Or, you can rent a jetty boat and go fishing.

After you’re done with the water activities, stroll on the white-sand beach to look for colorful shells or have a blast at the splash pad.

Crystal Beach

Longing for camping and campfires? Pack your camping equipment and pull over the car at Crystal Beach. You’ll find this popular beach in the Bolivar Peninsula, accessible by ferry from Galveston.

Crystal Beach

You can indulge in various activities at this secluded beach, but the most memorable thing to do here is camping. Pitch your camping tent on the soft sand of Crystal Beach. Place your chairs and towels on the shoreline and soak up the summer sun.

In the evening, set up a campfire and sing songs with your travel buddies. If you’ve built up an appetite, you can cook fresh seafood or order from one of the beachfront restaurants.

Rockport Beach

Looking for a great spot for fishing? Drive to Texas’s first Blue Wave Beach, Rockport Beach in Aransas County. With its prestigious environmental certification, this stretch of sand is considered the cleanest beach in Texas and is known for its fishing pier.

Rockport Beach

Grab your fishing rod and move to the pier to try your hand at catching some catfish or drum. Take a refreshing stroll along the promenade at the back of Rockport Beach, surrounded by sand. Make use of the clean sand to lay down and sunbathe while reading your favorite novel.

At Rockport Beach, you can also do some excellent bird-watching. To see them up close, save some time for the nearby Connie Hagar Cottage Sanctuary, a bird sanctuary.

Mustang Island State Park

Fascinated by marine creatures? Add Mustang Island State Park to your Texas beach itinerary. Situated on Mustang Island near Port Aransas, the state park is home to a special turtle breed: Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.

Mustang Island State Park

While at the Mustang Island State Park, opt for swimming, fishing, or surfing in the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico. If you love to explore, go kayaking or birding in the nearby areas. The state park features 380 bird species that you can photograph and share on Instagram with your friends.

If you’re traveling with your furry friend, bring them to this pet-friendly stretch of sand and let them comb the beach for seashells.

Padre Island National Seashore

In the mood to get away from the crowd? Drive straight to Padre Island National Seashore, the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. With 70 miles of beaches, tidal flats, and sand dunes, this national park is a dream come true for nature lovers.

Padre Island National Seashore

Surrounding Malaquite Beach, Padre Island National Seashore offers many popular activities, from swimming and birding to fishing and kayaking. For some peace and quiet, go beach camping at Bird Island Basin Beach and enjoy the sound of the waters and breathtaking sealine views. 

If you love walking, choose any of the hiking trails to explore the beauty of Padre Island National Seashore.

North Beach

Want sand, surfing, and some knowledge? Look no further than North Beach in Corpus Christi, South Texas. Among the cleanest beaches in Texas, North Beach features soft sand and year-round warm water, making it an obligatory spot to visit for beach bums.

North Beach

While you’re at North Beach, enjoy surfing on the gentle waves or try your hand at kiteboarding. After you’re done with water activities, head to the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier turned museum.

Marvel at the rare marine creatures at the aquarium and learn more about the WWII naval equipment used during those times at the USS Lexington.

McGee Beach

Looking for a beach where your kids can swim safely? Bring them to McGee Beach. Perched on Corpus Christi Bay, this laid-back and calm beach has shallow water and soft sand, perfect for small children to play with.

Teach your kids to swim in the calm waters of McGee Beach or set them free to explore the waves on their own. Create sandcastles or sand art together on the white sands or just put your feet in and soak in the sun.

Relish lunch with a lovely view of serene waters at one of the beachfront restaurants, or cook some fresh seafood at the nearby grilling stations.

Galveston Island State Park

Prefer adventure over footloose vacationing? Partake in outdoor activities and enjoy some new adventures at Galveston Island State Park. This gorgeous state park, featuring a 32-mile stretch of beach and bayfront, is ideal for enjoying nature.

Moody Gardens

Take a relaxing swim at one of Galveston’s most popular beaches, fish while gazing at beautiful birds, explore nature while hiking, or set up a family picnic. If you want a high-voltage adventure, try mountain biking, paddling, or geocaching at Galveston Island State Park.

If your group has some nature nerds, navigate to the educational theme park Moody Gardens, featuring aquarium and rainforest pyramids. You can also set your tents for overnight camping at one of the park/s campsites.

Magnolia Beach

Yearning for raw and untamed beauty? Magnolia Beach on Matagorda Bay will not disappoint. The natural beach, with a front view of Lavaca Bay, provides a 1.5-mile hard sandy stretch for driving or cycling. 

You can appreciate fishing, swimming, and kayaking in the warm waters of the Gulf Coast. Comb the beach for some crabs and have a seafood picnic with your group. Set up your camping gear on Magnolia Beach and listen to the winds whistling and birds chirping as they head back home.

If you love to explore, take a short drive to the nearby towns of Port Lavaca and Rockport.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park

Does your heart long for off-the-beat experiences? Slide over to the Matagorda Bay Nature Park, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Colorado River. The park lets you unwind while taking a stroll on Matagorda Beach or going fishing or birding.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park

Go kayaking and enjoy a paddle on the river and bay waters. The nature lover in you will be thrilled to witness some alligators, herons, storks, spoonbills, and other wild animals in their natural habitat at Matagorda Bay Nature Park.

If you like to add some adventure to your trip, camp in the wilderness or hike on the trails. The rusted-over Matagorda Island Lighthouse, built in 1852, is another favored sight around the park.

San Jose Island

Looking to escape mainland Texas? Book a ferry ride from Aransas Bay to San Jose Island. Sitting about 40 miles away from Corpus Christi, the island offers 21 miles-long immaculate beachfront.

The top activities on San Jose Island include swimming, shelling, birding, and fishing. You can also rent a jetty boat on-site for next-level fishing and exploring marine life. On a boat ride, you can catch a sight of sea turtles, stingrays, and dolphins.

Bring your own food to the island, as there are no beachfront eateries. Otherwise, head back to Aransas Bay to taste some of the Gulf’s finest delicacies.

East Beach

Fond of beach festivals and events? Get dressed and take the road leading to East Beach on Galveston Island. This mile-long beach is a hub for hosting festivals and events, making it one of the most happening seasides in Texas.

East Beach

If you’re traveling to Texas in the summer, you can catch live concerts, crash into beach parties, and enjoy some tropical cocktails. East Beach also hosts an annual sandcastle-building competition. Participate in this friendly competition and test your luck in creativity.

When you’re not competing or watching others play, take a relaxing swim in the Gulf of Mexico or stroll along the seawall. You can also book a cabana to make your stay more comfortable.

Lighthouse Beach

While combing through the beaches on your Texas trip, take some time for Lighthouse Beach in Port Lavaca. The soft sand and shallow waters are prime reasons to stop by this lovely stretch of sand.

Small kids can have a blast at the splash pad of Lighthouse Beach while you and the teenagers can swim in the pristine waters of Lavaca Bay. If you enjoy nature, go to the bird sanctuary and devour a soothing walk on the Formosa Wetlands Walkway.

You can even camp at the campgrounds for a more intimate association with amusing local wildlife.

Whitecap Beach

Want to explore a less crowded seafront on your Texas trip? There’s no better option than Whitecap Beach in Corpus Christi. The beach is a great choice for small groups or solo travelers with its smaller tourist crowds.

Whitecap Beach

The lack of people at Whitecap Beach means you can appreciate the tranquility and nature’s beauty in its purest form. You can fish while enjoying the sunset in the evening or try your hand at night fishing.

If you love kayaking, you can explore the waters of Corpus Christi Bay. Whitecap Beach is also excellent for swimming, birding, and picnicking.

Got some spare time? Visit nearby North Padre Island and make use of dressing rooms, showers, and a varied variety of restaurants.

Isla Blanca Park

Searching for a beach with endless water activities? Head to Isla Blanca Park in South Padre Island. Over a mile of enthralling beach on the Gulf of Mexico provides myriad waterfront recreational activities.

Island Blanca Park

If you’re traveling to the Texas Gulf Coast with kids, bring them to Isla Blanca Park, a wonderland for kids. Move to the 25-acre water park to let them enjoy ample water activities, including gliding down the 13 adventurous water slides.

Experience the excitement of flying over ten stories high and 30 miles per hour on the Soaring Eagle zip-line. Or get up close and personal with native marine life in the park’s underwater scuba experience, Sea Trek.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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