When you think of the best beaches in the USA, you might think of visiting Miami, California, or perhaps the Washington coastline. However, overlooking Texas beaches is a travesty. Texas beaches are not unlike the pristine, mega-popular Florida beaches. Texas beaches are dreamy – with fewer crowds, beautiful clean sand dunes, and plenty of wildlife.
Top Beaches in Texas
Whether beach-goers want the cleanest beaches formally recognized by the Clean Beaches Coalition or just a quiet beach to enjoy with a book, Texas beaches are fantastic. The entire coast of East Texas is brimming with sandy shores.
These are the best 16 beaches in Texas. Grab your towel and sun cream because these best beaches are all worth a visit.
1. Crystal Beach
A 7-mile stretch of unassuming-looking white-gray sand, Crystal Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas for a peaceful experience. There are no beachfront restaurants and infrastructure – just outstretched sand and the occasional dolphin pod causing temporary mayhem in the water. Crystal Beach is one of the cleanest beaches in Texas and is ideal for swimming or sunbathing. And in terms of busyness, you’ll be lucky to walk past more than a handful of people. The size of Crystal Beach means you only really have to interact with people if you want to.
Crystal Beach is on the Bolivar Peninsula, around an hour and a half drive from Houston. It is best reached by car, as public transport is relatively limited.
- Crystal Crab is where to stay near Crystal Beach, just 350 yards away on foot. The holiday home offers a self-catered experience with a luxurious balcony.
2. Rockport Beach
Rockport Beach is angelic looking. This Texas beach arcs in a smooth curve with golden sand and traditional beach umbrellas. Your first impression is that it looks serene, and that’s entirely accurate. Even its waters are peaceful. Rockport Beach is perfect for those who want a quick paddle, as its waters are shallow and gentle.
Rockport Beach is in the sheltered Aransas Bay, just north of Corpus Christi. The beach is protected from the winds and currents of the Gulf of Mexico by San Jose Island. Its location is what gives it its most attractive quality – peacefulness. Sitting on Rockport Beach feels like sitting in your own private world.
If you stay in Corpus Christi, you’ll have to drive as there is no public transport option. It takes around 38 minutes by car.
3. Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach is another little town beach. Surfside has a real community feel and is nicknamed ‘family beach’ because of its friendly, laid-back vibes. While its waters do get choppy sometimes, for the most part, it is suitable for swimming and a brilliant beach to relax on. Another huge draw is how fantastic Surfside Beach is for fishing. The beach is a great fishing destination – so definitely bring your fishing rod for a fun-filled day.
Its atmosphere bagged Surfside Beach a spot on our list. The happy-go-lucky vibe makes it one of the best beaches in Texas. Surfside Beach is also relatively centrally located, just 70 minute drive from Houston.
4. North Beach
Forget remote islands and quiet beaches; North Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas for an urban beach day. The beach sits on North Beach island – connected to the center of Corpus Christi by the Harbor Bridge and surrounded by major attractions like Texas State Aquarium and USS Lexington. North Beach itself is also heaving with action.
North Beach wiggled its way onto our list because of its constant excitement and urban character. Besides, it is also one of the only beaches in Texas accessible by public transport if you stay in a city. From Corpus Christi city center, you can hop on the 76 bus and be at North Beach in 25 minutes.
5. Boca Chica Beach
Boca Chica Beach is one of the best beaches in Texas. Why? Because of its rockets. Boca Chica Beach is right next to SpaceX Spaceport, and you have a full view of the rockets from its sandy shore. For visitors interested in space, this is a hard temptation to shake. Besides, how many rockets do you see parked next to beaches? It’s easy to see why Boca Chica Beach made our list.
Boca Chica Beach is also one of the prettiest beaches in Texas. It is surrounded by coastal marshes and clay dunes – ideal for bird watching and admiring wildlife. It’s located on the east coast, right above the Mexico border. Sandwiched between Boca Chica State Park and Brazos Island Park, it is a beach that belongs to nature. And just a 50-minute drive from Brownsville, it is easily accessible by car.
- Casa Roble is a beautiful apartment in Downtown Brownsville with a patio with garden views.
6. South Packery Jetty Beach
South Packery Jetty Beach is best spotted by its huge wooden jetty. The jetty acts as a fisherman’s wharf, with rows of fishermen poised, ready for their next bite. South Packery Jetty Beach is quiet but well-loved – attracting a handful of visitors, aka those in the know.
Do you want an extra adventure? South Packery Jetty Beach allows overnight camping. You can get to the beach by driving just 25 minutes from Corpus Christi and then use it as a base overnight – waking up to the ocean in the morning. We love South Packery Jetty Beach’s convenient location and laid-back vibe. With overnight camping and fishing allowed and barely any crowds, it’s a fantastic beach to visit in Texas.
- Island Escape is a gorgeous two-bedroom holiday home just 550 yards from South Packery Channel Beach.
7. South Padre Island
South Padre Island has a vast 12-mile stretch of beach that runs alongside its resort town shenanigans. The beach at South Padre Island is swimmable and spacious. It is also alcohol friendly and backed by some of the most lively bars and seaside entertainment.
South Padre Island is one of the best beaches in Texas if you want a cheesy seaside getaway. There are just so many things to do. It’s backed by theme parks and beach resorts, with all the resort amenities that give a beach an infectious sense of fun. It’s a three-hour drive from Corpus Christi or 40 minutes from Brownsville.
- This cute condo is within walking distance of South Padre Island beach and sleeps up to six guests.
8. Magnolia Beach
Magnolia Beach is beautiful. Let’s just start there. The 1.5-mile-long beach is known for being massively RV friendly. Its hard-packed sand is ideal for beach drives. Since it allows overnight camping, Magnolia Beach is popular amongst RV campers. Another huge bonus is its flush toilets and showers onsite – even boasting hot water. Isolated and dreamily so, Magnolia Beach is a quiet spot to spend undisturbed time on the coast. It’s one of the best Texas beaches for RV owners.
Magnolia Beach itself is a tiny community with little in the way of facilities or amenities. However, you are just a 15-minute drive into Port Lavaca, which has all the urban necessities. To get to this Texas beach, a car is the best way forward, and besides, you want to take advantage of beach driving, don’t you?
9. Galveston Island East Beach
In Galveston Island East Beach, activities and entertainment are the laws of the land. The beach sits on the far east of Galveston Island and is best known for its relaxed laws – including being one of the only Galveston beaches to permit alcohol. Concerts and parties; you name it and Galveston has got it. Galveston Island East Beach has everything from nightlife to activities like horseback riding and beach combing. From its wooden boardwalk, you’ll overlook all of this mayhem.
The beach is just a 12-minute drive from Galveston town and an hour from Houston. Galveston Island East Beach is on our list because it offers top-tier entertainment. If you want an event, it is one of the best beaches in Texas.
10. Lighthouse Beach
This sandy shore is one of the best Texas beaches for children and families. The tiny stretch of sand is backed by a children’s playground, splash pad, and covered picnic shelters. Its age-appropriate amenities are what caught our eye. In short, Lighthouse Beach is a kid’s paradise.
Lighthouse Beach is situated at the edge of Port Lavaca. It’s tucked in just before the Port Lavaca Causeway, which spans across Lavaca Bay. It is easily walkable for those staying in Port Lavaca. Alternatively, you can drive to the beach in a matter of minutes.
11. Stewart Beach
Stewart Beach is another Galveston Island gem. However, unlike East Beach, it is much more renowned as a family-friendly coastal spot. Alcohol is not permitted, which invites a quieter crowd. Still, forget the lull of long beach days with no activities; Stewart Beach has loads to do, which caught our attention. Families can get involved with volleyball and giant Jenga and access a playground. Stewart Beach is perfect for families with older children wanting to get more active.
Aside from all these activities, Stewart Beach has chairs and umbrellas, shower and restroom facilities, snack bars, and even beach wheelchairs if needed. Located just outside Galveston town, it’s also easy to reach. You can walk to Stewart Beach or drive minutes from Galveston. Alternatively, drive from Houston in around an hour.
- An apartment with an infinity pool sits just steps from Stewart Beach.
12. Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Matagorda Bay Nature Park is far from just a beach. The park encompasses numerous recreational activities like putt a hole-in-one, as well as wetlands and an RV park. It is an organized area, and there’s even a visitor center. You can enjoy strolls on the beach, kayaking the wetlands, and spotting wildlife – Matagorda Bay is essentially a bird sanctuary, given its protected status. Matagorda Beach is just next to the opening of the Colorado River. As a two-hour drive from Houston, it is best accessed by car.
We love Matagorda Bay Nature Park as an entertaining place to visit for wildlife watching and outdoor water-related activities. It is important to note that Matagorda Beach is not a swimming beach. The area is popular amongst sharks and dangerous due to rip currents and undertow. Matagorda is one of the best Texas beaches to experience from land or in a kayak.
- This stunning Matagorda townhouse has a deck, three bedrooms, and access to a massive communal pool.
13. Mcgee Beach
Mcgee Beach is a trendy beach in downtown Corpus Christi. This Corpus Christi beach is perfect for an urban sunrise or sunset, with clean waters and fresh, rubbish-free sands. It is set back against Shoreline Boulevard. Mcgee Beach has that hotel-backed, resort-style vibe. Yet it also has a residential feel, which is nice and relaxing. You can kick back with a book, have a quick bite to eat at a picnic table, or rent water sports equipment.
Mcgee Beach is on our list as it is a real downtown area – perfect for relaxing outside the inner city center. It’s easy to reach too. You have free parking and can reach Mcgee Beach by car in 10 minutes from the city center. Or, if public transport is more your style, in just 30 minutes using the bus.
14. Mustang Beach
Mustang Beach gets its name from the herds of wild horses that once lived there. The beach is more famous now for its sea turtle population and location in an untouched barrier island park – Mustang Island State Park. It is magical for hiking and spotting wildlife, an activity best experienced under the watchful guidance of the Ranger Programs. The state park has five miles of coastline, so be prepared for some hiking.
Mustang Beach is part of the 3,954-acre Mustang Island State Park, located on North Padre Island. It is easiest to reach from Port Aransas, which is just a 15-minute drive away. From Corpus Christi, it is a 25-minute drive. We love how Mustang Beach is so untouched and a haven for wildlife and nature.
- Happy Place is a wonderful two-bedroom apartment with a hot tub and a communal swimming pool.
15. Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore is a massive section of 66 miles of coastline on Padre Island – a huge barrier island lying between Texas and the Gulf of Mexico. It goes without saying that natural beauty is one of the biggest draws of visiting its beaches. However, there’s also another bonus; the seashore is the most important nesting place for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. The ridley sea turtle is the most endangered of all sea turtles. Padre Island National Seashore has been dedicated to protecting the animal since 1978.
Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best beaches in Texas for seeing sea turtles. And if you want to support conservation attempts, you can get involved with the beaches’ multi-agency efforts. Padre Island National Seashore is best accessed by car and takes around 30 minutes from Corpus Christi.
- This four-bedroom condo is within walking distance from the beach and boasts BBQ facilities and a swimming pool.
16. San José Island
San José Island is a 21-mile-long barrier island on the Gulf Coast, only accessible from Port Aransas by ferry. This distance means San José Island is mainly empty of human inhabitation and has plenty of quiet coastlines. San José Island is famed for its clean beaches. As a privately owned island, it has plenty of regulations to protect its flora and fauna. However, visitors can still access all ‘public’ areas – appreciating the fantastic amount of rare seashells, including sand dollars, starfish, and lightning whelks.
We love San José Island’s isolated allure. Having to catch a ferry makes it feel all the more expeditionary. To reach this Texas beach, visitors must drive to Port Aransas before sailing across the passenger ferry.
- The Place at Port Aransas is a perfect base for catching the ferry to San José Island. Guests also access free Wi-Fi and a shared lounge.
Some of these Texas beaches are amongst the best places to visit in the USA. We love the natural beauty of these beaches in Texas and the experiences they offer visitors. You could release baby sea turtles along Padre Island National Seashore or fish on North Beach. One of the best things about Texas’ quiet beaches is that they are a nature lover’s paradise. You can swap people-watching for bird watching, fishing, or assisting with sea turtle conservation.
Looking for some more Texas inspiration? We have a complete guide on the best things to do in Austin – or a fun fact guide if you want something more light-hearted.