There is something so special about open water, sandcastles, and a good book that truly makes for a relaxing weekend–and the best beaches in Galveston, Texas are perfect for a quick getaway in the Lone Star State.
The southern coastline is really popular for beachgoers as The Gulf always provides a warm breeze and a stellar view. Galveston is only about an hour out of Houston, it is definitely a destination that’s an easy day trip or weekend getaway!
If you have a cruise leaving from Galveston, definitely come in a day or two in advance to soak up some sun and get in the vacationing mood! It is worth the drive for sure, and it is a great way to kickstart a holiday.
Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.
A lot of movies and photography from the 90s have this imagery of beaches with colorful umbrellas and pristine sandy shores. Porretto Beach definitely fits the bill when it comes to that vision.
There are races and other events on-site and also the shaded areas can be rented for a fee. This beach is private so there are fees associated with certain amenities to provide upkeep for the area.
This beach is very close to Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier which has food, rides, and games. It is definitely an all-around top hit in terms of location and access.
Jamaica Beach is fairly secluded and tucked away from the other more famous beaches of the island.
The beaches that face outwards toward The Gulf tend to be more populated.
Whereas the beaches facing the West Bay tend to be less crowded and more secluded.
It really is a matter of personal preference, the secluded beaches are more bare-bones but if you’re just trying to spend a few hours by the water it’s a great spot to hunker down at!
There is some parking available on-site. Definitely bring a beach towel or some chairs, as there aren’t any available for rental. It is a great spot for a family day out, so definitely check it out!
Pirates Beach is a private beach surrounded by rental beach homes. The benefit of private beaches is that they tend to be more well kept, and they also tend to be less crowded.
The rental homes in the area are very popular in the summers so there might be a little more planning involved if you want to get some prime real estate for the summer holiday.
You can park away from the subdivision and walkthrough if you’re staying elsewhere, however, due to it being a residential area there aren’t any public facilities available.
Sea Isle Beach
Right off of Kennedy Road there is a small gravel road that leads to a boardwalk. The boardwalk opens up to a large sprawling beach called Sea Isle Beach.
This beach doesn’t allow driving so you’ll have to park slightly further away and walk to the boardwalk. This area is generally not too crowded, especially if you can go during the week.
The beach area is fairly well kept, and while there is no staff constantly manning the waters, there are staff members that do check periodically to make sure everything is going swimmingly (no pun intended…well maybe a little intended!).
San Luis Beach
San Luis Beach is known for bird watching and fishing. The water here is known to be fairly rough so swimming and wading in the water is off-limits. You can still enjoy the perks of being at the beach because the sand in this area is known to be really soft, perfect for a day of play!
While driving is allowed on the beach, it’s recommended to park elsewhere. The sand is so soft that it often causes vehicles to get stuck accidentally.
The beach is fairly open without obstruction which provides you with really nice uninterrupted views of The Gulf.
West Beach is part of a string of beaches on the “West End”. The West End is quite popular for tourists as the major “catchy” beaches are in that area.
This beach is public and has public drive access. You can drive up to the water and enjoy the day with the water flowing up to your ankles.
The entrance isn’t very well written, but fear not! There are signs labeled “public access point” and that will be a great way to land upon whichever beach you’re looking for.
Bermuda Beach Drive essentially just turns into the beach as you drive along it. Don’t worry though, there is a single lane of parking as you go down. This does turn a little narrow, but as long as the sand is continuously compact, there shouldn’t be any issues getting through.
When driving on the beach make sure you check the weather. If there hasn’t been rain or any source of moisture in some time the sand can get very dry and sink as your wheels go over!
Because of the narrowness of the beach, definitely make sure you check before! Every once in a while you might also catch the shave ice truck on the beach with you!
Stewart Beach is definitely a spot to hit up if you’re traveling with family or a large group. This location is award-winning and its wide array of amenities sure tell you why. There are open beach volleyball courts to get a pickup game going.
Additionally the beachfront is monitored during open hours.
There are public restrooms and rinse-off showers located on the premises. Additionally, you can rent out chairs or umbrellas for some shade and comfort. Bring a BBQ pit, and set up some s’mores for a great day/night out!
East Beach, otherwise known as R.A. Apffel Park is the non-stop party spot! This beach is definitely geared towards people that are at the beach to let loose and have fun in the sun.
This is where several festivals and concerts are held. Alcohol is allowed on the premises as well.
Similar to other popular Galveston beaches, there are restrooms and showers available along with chair and umbrella rentals.
In addition to the main features for entertainment, there is also a small children’s playground which has concessions and other amenities nearby.
There is a fee for admission, but it is definitely worth it for all of the amenities. This is a great spot to spend the entire day because you never will have to leave for anything!
Galveston Island State Park
State Parks are a great way to explore each region of Texas, and the unique things that particular area has to share. Galveston Island State Park is a great inexpensive way to explore beaches while also getting access to fishing and trails in the same area.
Because the park is so large, it encapsulates so much of the island in one central location. You get both, the beach and the bay, in one park and better yet you also get the benefit of having campsites or lodging accommodations also in the same spot.
The park often hits capacity so make sure you reserve a spot online before going, and you should be all set for a great vacation!
Sunny Beach is a small beach adjacent to Beach Pocket Park 2. Similar to West End beaches, the entire coastline is broken up into smaller segments so several of the beaches line up next to one another.
This beach is small and quaint, with little foot traffic. It is as beautiful as it is completely bare-bones, there is something so nice about having the tranquility of the water for a few hours and nothing else.
There isn’t any vehicular access allowed at the moment, but there is plenty of parking in the surrounding subdivisions.
Beach Pocket Park 2
There are two “pocket parks” for the West End. They are two separate entities which are so aptly named Beach Pocket Park 1 and Beach Pocket Park 2.
Beach Pocket Park 2 tends to have a little more traffic because of its closer proximity to popular attractions in Galveston such as Schlitterbahn Waterpark.
Parking at the beach is paved so you don’t have to worry about your wheels sinking.
Admission to the park is free and there are accommodations such as showers and indoor restrooms. There are also chair and umbrella rentals during peak season from mid-March to the beginning of September. This beach has everything you need close by so it’s definitely a one-stop-shop!
Unlike several of the best beaches in Galveston, Terramar Beach luckily has pretty good signage and is right off of the main road. You can essentially drive up onto the beach directly.
It is really small but fairly uncrowded. This is one of those beaches that not too many people know about because it looks like an extension of the subdivision.
It is a great spot to park your car and fish if you’d like! It is about as un-fussy of a location as you can get but that is what makes it a great vacation spot!