What comes to mind when you think of Texas?
That probably depends on where you are in the world!
For many outsiders, your mind might paint a picture of cowboys on cattle ranches wearing ten-gallon hats, or perhaps there being a space related problem in Houston.
Chances are you won’t be thinking of surfers catching a wave along golden shores.
But take a trip down to the beautiful Texas coastline on the Gulf of Mexico and, as any local will know, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
From nature reserves to water sports, secluded islands to family-friendly hotspots, the Lone Star State has a lot to offer, so here is our pick of the best beaches in Texas.
GET A FREE TEXAS GUIDEBOOK WITH LOCAL TIPS!
With 71 pages of helpful travel tips and the “best of” Texas lists, this is your ad-free key to your Texas trip.
Looking for more locally approved Texas guides? Check these out!
- 23 Best Beach Towns in Texas
- 11+ Best Beaches in Texas for Families
- 9 Best Places for Snorkeling in Texas
- 33+ Awesome Things to Do in Galveston
- 29 Best Things to Do near Corpus Christi, Texas
- 29+ Charming Things to Do in South Padre Island
- 13 Best Rivers in Texas
- 13+ Best Waterfalls in Texas
- 27+ Best and Prettiest Lakes in Texas
- 17 Fantastic Texas Road Trip Ideas
- 27+ Fantastic Texas Day Trips
How to get around Texas as a visitor
If you’re visiting and need to rent a car, we highly recommend Discover Cars where they find you the best car rental deals from all of the competitors (has saved us so much money!).
Don’t forget to pack…
Before you hit the surf and sand, don’t forget to bring these key items!
- soft-sided cooler: soft-sided coolers that can roll (this one is the best) are a must-have when packing your snacks and drinks for the beach
- beach tote: so many people travel with backpacks, forgetting that they’ll want a bigger and cute beach tote like this one when you hit the sand
- reef-safe sunscreen: this sunscreen is safe for your skin and for the creatures you’re sharing the ocean with
- portable phone charger: there’s nowhere to charge your phone at the beach (shocker), so bring your own like this one to make sure you’re always good to go
Some beaches just have it all, and Surfside (as it’s known locally) is one of those special places.
Head south from Houston for an hour and you’ll reach Surfside, a great all-rounder for the whole family.
With over four miles of coastline, you’ll be sure to find a space to throw down your towel and soak up some Texan sun.
Not one for sunbathing?
The clue’s in the name – Surfside is a great spot to catch a wave, for both beginners and experts.
If you’re looking for a little more tranquility, head north up the beach and you’ll find the space to camp on the beach.
Nothing beats getting back to nature for the evening, apart from maybe watching the sunrise the next day!
With lots of activities and lifeguards on duty this had to be on our list of top Texas beaches – for fun and for safety!
Known for being less crowded than other local hotspots, Port Aransas Beach offers the chance for a little downtime.
Grab a parking permit and you can pull right up the beach or hire a golf cart if your car isn’t up to the off-road experience.
Port Aransas City offer free trash bags, so pick one up and help to keep this gorgeous beach as pristine as you’d like it to be.
On your visit splash in the clear water, embrace the sun, do a little fishing, or even take a boat trip to see dolphins dancing in the waves!
In a state that has a lot of clean beaches, Rockport is renowned for keeping it squeaky clean, gaining the reputation of being the cleanest beach in Texas and the honor of being the first Blue Wave Beach in the state.
At only a mile long, Rockport is a pocket-sized beauty perfect for visiting with little ones thanks to the clean and shallow water.
It’s also a bargain; cycle or walk there and it’s free or bring your car and it’s only $10 for the day.
Bring a picnic with you and use one of the picnic benches or huts, and you have yourself an easy-on-the-wallet beach trip!
Any trip to the coast isn’t complete without visiting one of the most famous beaches in Texas: South Padre Island.
Hear us out! South Padre Island might be famous for being a Spring Break destination, but at any other time of year it’s become a very popular destination for a family vacation or day trip.
Check out the local birdwatching tours or learn how to kiteboard at one of the best places in Texas. Ride a horse down the picturesque beach front.
You can even take Sandcastle lessons (who knew they were a thing?!) and wow the crowds with your creations!
5. North Beach
North Beach is one of the busier ones on our list, but the long list of things to do makes this one of the best beaches to visit in Texas.
There’s just such a lot to pack into your trip here!
Visit the Texas State Aquarium and get up close with dolphins, sharks and stingrays.
Head along to the historic aircraft carrier USS Lexington as an unexpected beach activity.
And don’t forget the Corpus Christi Bay Trail – it’s paved, so it’s perfect for a walk, bike or run by the waterfront.
In short, this is the perfect beach for people who want just a bit MORE from their beach day!
Frequently coming first on lists of the best beaches in Texas, Matagorda Bay is renowned for its vast expanse of natural beauty.
Perfect if you’re seeking the great outdoors and a place to get away from it all.
Despite the tranquility, there’s loads to do in the 1,600-acre nature park.
Try paddle boarding along the two miles of coastline or go fishing at the designated fishing pier.
It’s a great place for camping – hire an RV or bring your own tent and pitch up at one of the waterfront campsites.
7. Boca Chica
There are so many pretty beaches in Texas, but this might just take top spot.
Not as popular (read: busy) as some of the beaches on this list, Boca Chica is considered a jewel in South Texas.
Whether for the chilled vibe or the fact that it’s open 24/7, it’s a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
There aren’t many amenities (think desert island chic), so make sure you bring your own equipment if you want to do some water sports.
While we’re talking beautiful beaches in Texas, let’s take a trip to Mustang Island.
Known as a bit of a hidden gem, it’s a great beach for surfing, camping and wildlife spotting – try to spot dolphins, coastal birds and turtles!
Do you like to kayak or paddleboard?
Check out the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail – you can paddle through 20 miles of gorgeous scenery and clear waters. Bliss!
This quaint man-made beach is ideal for birdwatchers as the coastline is a bird sanctuary.
Stroll along the Formosa Wetlands Walkway to the Alcoa Bird Tower to see what you can spot through your binoculars.
Fish to your heart’s content on the fishing pier, or if you’re visiting with kids, you know they’ll love the Splash Pad!
And the rest of the family can swim without worries in Lavaca Bay, where the water is shallow and safe.
As this is right in Port Lavaca there are lots of places to grab a bite to eat, and it’s a short walk from Half Moon Reef Lighthouse, which gave the beach its name!
10. McGee Beach
Unlike a lot of beaches in Texas there’s free parking, making it a day out that’s easy on the pocket.
McGee beach is very family-friendly, with a sloping shoreline that means that little kids are unlikely to find themselves out of their depth.
There are also lots of shells that little ones can hunt for in the sands!
Talking of sand, McGee is known for its white powdery sand. Perfect for a walk by the gentle waves!
11. Crystal Beach
If you really want to get away from it all, then Crystal Beach is definitely one of the best Texas beaches for you. It’s on the Bolivar Peninsula, and you can only get there via ferry from Galveston.
Another one for the nature lovers out there, Crystal Beach is famed for its migratory birds, and… hermit crabs!
In fact, searching for the illusive crabs is one of the top things to do here, so give it a go and see what you can find!
It’s the ideal location for a castaway fantasy – pitch your tent and build your campfire on the beach. Don’t forget the obligatory guitar!
12. McFaddin Beach
Close to the Louisiana-Texas border is the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, including McFaddin Beach, which has to be high up of list of nice beaches in Texas.
The beach is made up from very hard packed sand, making It perfect for walking, driving and even making sandcastles!
If you’re looking for solitude McFaddin is the beach for you; you’re unlikely to find many large groups particularly if you visit during the week.
As you’d expect from a wildlife refuge, a lot of the draw at this scenic spot is wildlife based.
Think crabbing, fishing, and birdwatching.
Try to catch a glimpse of an alligator – from a distance of course!
13. San José Island
This is the only privately owned entry on our list.
Visitors to the island can access the beach via the ferry from Port Aransas, and spend their trip fishing, birdwatching and shell collecting.
San José will give you a true desert island experience – be prepared for the remote setting!
You won’t be forced to sit next to other people if you don’t want to (and who does?!) – there’s 20 miles of white sand coastline to explore here.
Go for a walk along the gorgeous beaches and find a little moment of serenity in what has been described as a ‘literal paradise’!
It’s also a brilliant spot to spot turtles. If you’re lucky you might even get to swim alongside one!
And now for something a bit different! East Beach is the only beach on the Galveston Island where you can buy a hard drink!
That makes it very popular for concerts and events, and you can hire the pavilion for everything from corporate events to a wedding!
If that’s not your style, then don’t worry because East Beach has plenty more to tempt you with.
Its location makes it perfect for catching the sunrise, and because it’s so popular there are loads of the amenities and comforts that some of the more secluded beaches lack.
Check out the volleyball courts and horseback riding, or head back into Galveston to the historic pier via the next beach on our list.
15. Stewart Beach
Back towards the center of Galveston is Stewart Beach, a family focused and fun beach with all the facilities you need for a great beach trip.
It’s also accessible, and with a disability pass you can park on the beach for free.
In fact, Stewart Beach has had a lot of praise for how accessible it is – you can even hire a beach wheelchair for your visit.
The beach closes at 6pm, so if you’re hoping to watch the sunset on the beach this isn’t for you, but it’s prefect as a base for exploring Galveston and seeing what the island has to offer
Head along the Sea Wall for a walk, before going to the Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier – the whole family will love the fun rides!
We’ll race you to the log flume!
This stunning beach in the national park is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world.
That may not sound super exciting, but it does result in some amazing coastline to explore!
Stretching over 66 miles, Padre Island National Seashore is perfect for hiking, kayaking, and swimming.
Plus, it’s a nesting ground for sea turtles, and at the right time of year you can aid the park rangers in releasing some of the little hatchlings back into the wild!
Like so many of the more remote beaches of Texas, you can camp here in the serene natural surroundings.
And with nearly 70 miles to explore, why not stay the night and turn your daytrip into a weekender!
17. Lake Texoma
This isn’t a coastal beach!
You’re so right, but just to the north of Dallas is Lake Texoma, a huge lake offering so many of the same activities we expect from an ocean beach.
Without having to travel for hours!
Want to get out on the water?
Hire a boat!
You can even swim off the side, though the lake has plenty of little coves to swim in too.
In the middle of the lake are islands with sandy shores, perfect for sunbathing.
If you want something a bit more active then there’s plenty of fishing, paddleboarding and kayaking to be had on this beautiful lake.
What more could you want from a beach!