17 of the Prettiest + Best Beaches in Texas (By a Texan!)

From Beaumont to Galveston to Corpus Christi and everywhere in between, the Gulf Coast is home to lots of Texas beaches that are perfect for soaking up the saltwater air and the sound of crashing waves. 

While, sure, any Texan will be quick to tell you that Texas beaches can’t generally outcompete places like the Caribbean, a quick road trip to the Texas Gulf Coast is often exactly what family vacation calls for!

Whether you’re looking for a state park, a quiet neighborhood beach, or the national seashore that is undoubtedly one of the prettiest beaches in Texas, the Lone Star State offers plenty of opportunities to stick your toes in the sand.

If you’re looking for a new beach to enjoy, here’s where to find the best beaches in Texas!

Small sandcastle on the Port Aransas beach with children playing in the background

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Rockport Beach

Rockport Beach is located in Rockport, Texas, and draws people from miles around.

This quaint little beach has plenty of areas for you and your family to sit back and relax under one of many cabana umbrellas.

Rockport Beach is Texas’ first and only Blue Wave Beach, meaning it is incredibly clean and free of litter.

Rockport Beach also has fishing piers, playgrounds, and even an area to protect migratory birds, giving you and your family plenty of options while you are visiting.

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Rockport Beach costs $10 for a parking day pass, or $40 for an annual pass, which allows you to come and go as you please.

It’s free to enter on foot or by bike.

Rockport Beach is a smaller beach, so planning time to get your space and set up for the day is important.

While you are visiting, make sure to plan some time to explore historic downtown Rockport where you can shop, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the saltwater breeze off of the ocean.

Rockport beach with multiple straw cabanas visible with the water in the background. visiting rockport beach is one of the most fun things to do in rockport tx

Padre Island National Seashore

Arguably the prettiest beach in Texas, the Padre Island National Seashore is known for being the longest undeveloped stretch of coastline on a barrier island on the planet.

When visiting the Padre Island National Seashore, you can see seagulls and pelicans flying overhead and watch the tide rise and fall as you dig your feet further into the sand.

Another reason people travel to Padre Island National Seashore is to catch a glimpse at tiny Kemp Ridley Sea Turtles hatching and making their way to the ocean.

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Every year, hundreds of these tiny turtles find their way into the ocean with the protection of volunteers who keep predators away and ensure they have a safe path.

Padre Island National Seashore protects miles and miles of land that includes a variety of birds, tidal pools, and more.

When you visit this beach, you are sure to find some ocean wildlife in its natural habitat all the while making some incredible memories with your friends and family.

For non-Texans coming down to visit, keep in mind that the Padre Island National Seashore is located on the less-developed North Padre Island, not popular South Padre Island (which also has beautiful Texas beaches to visit–more on that in a bit).

Purple flowers blooming on sand dunes on padre island, one of the prettiest islands in texas

North Beach, Corpus Christi

North Beach is one of the best beaches in Corpus Christi.

It is a great TX beach to visit because of its close proximity to many of Corpus Christi’s main attractions.

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Within walking distance of North Beach, you’ll find many of the best things to see in Corpus Christi, including the Texas State Aquarium and the (potentially haunted) USS Lexington.

North Beach is a vehicle-free beach, ensuring that you have plenty of areas to walk along the beach watching for dolphins in the distance or searching for seashells.

North Beach also has multiple bathrooms and shower facilities, allowing you to wash all of the sand off before you load your family back in the car.

bright orange sunset over the beach waves

McGee Beach, Corpus Christi

McGee Beach is a laid-back and calm beach that is one of the best beaches in Texas for families!

Located in Corpus Christi, this Texas beach is close to restaurants as well as plenty of free parking spots for your family to take advantage of.

McGee Beach tends to have calmer waves than most beaches, making it a perfect spot for small kids to enjoy the beach without having to fight large and often intense waves.

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McGee Beach has soft white sand that is perfect to sink your feet into and soak in the sounds of the waves all around you.

This is one of the best beaches in Texas that is free to the public.

It’s a very popular destination for Texas families in the summer, so make sure to arrive early to grab your spot in the sand.

beach in corpus christi texas with a small white gazebo along the promenade

Mustang Island State Park

Mustang Island State Park is located in Port Aransas, Texas, and sits right on miles of coastal shoreline.

This is one of the best Texas beaches to visit if you are planning to camp or RV, allowing you electric and water hookups with the beach being only steps away.

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In order to enter Mustang Island State Park, you must pay a daily rate or camping rate that can be paid in person or online.

Camping on the beach allows you to enjoy all day at the beach and then soak up the rest of the night around a campfire with all of your friends and family.

Underside of a wooden dock on Mustang Island Texas, one of the best texas islands

San Jose Island

Looking for a beautiful beach to visit on one of the coolest islands in Texas?

San Jose Island is a private little oasis just off of the coast of Port Aransas.

This small island can be visited by jumping on a ferry at Fisherman’s Wharf and taking the short ride over to this perfect getaway destination.

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Before you visit San Jose Island, make sure to pack everything you need with you as there are no stores or restaurants on the island.

San Jose Island is the Texas island beach to visit when you want to get away from it all!

Find a perfect spot to have a picnic and soak in the rest of the day while enjoying this small Texas paradise.

Flock of seagulls on the beach on San Jose Island, one of the prettiest islands off of texas

McFaddin Beach, Port Arthur

McFaddin Beach is located along the Gulf Coast near Port Arthur and is made up of miles of coastline.

This Texas beach is rich in history and many people have found some incredible artifacts washed ashore on this exact beach.

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When you visit McFaddin Beach, you will find the sand is denser than most beaches in Texas, which allows you to walk easily and drive along the beach as well.

This beach is not as well-known as many along the Texas Gulf Coast, which allows you to often have most of the beach to yourself when you visit.

Sunrise over the beach, one of the best things to do in Port Aransas TX

Lighthouse Beach

Lighthouse Beach, located in Port Lavaca, is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and one of the best beaches near Houston.

As you pull into Lighthouse Beach, you are greeted by plenty of places to park your RV as well as a large boardwalk that allows you to explore the marsh all around.

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Lighthouse Beach is one of the smaller Texas Gulf Coast beaches to visit, but still offers plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Take some time to enjoy the playground with your kids, or sit back and relax under the multiple cabana umbrellas located throughout the beach.

boardwalk over the marsh near lighthouse beach texas

Porretto Beach, Galveston

A lot of vintage movies and photography from the have this imagery of beaches with colorful umbrellas and pristine sandy shores–and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Porretto Beach in Galveston.

There are races and other events on-site and also the shaded areas can be rented for a fee.

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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 and one of the prettiest Texas beaches to visit!

beach chairs with corresponding colorful umbrellas set up on the sand at one of the beaches in galveston texas

Magnolia Beach, Port Lavaca

Magnolia Beach is a well-known boondocking spot that RVers come from miles around to take advantage of.

Magnolia Beach is first come first serve for RVs and campers to set up, so make sure to get there early to grab a spot!

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Besides being used as a boondocking spot for RVers, Magnolia Beach also has multiple jetties and areas to go fishing or just spend the day swimming in the saltwater all around.

You can explore the beach throughout the day, and even boondocking is free for those that want to take advantage of it.

The water here tends to be very calm, making Magnolia Beach a fun Texas beach to visit with small kids!

calm water and grass on hardpacked sand at one of the cleanest beaches in texas

Bryan Beach, Freeport

Located at the mouth of the Brazos River, Bryan Beach is a great beach to hang out with friends and family for the day.

Access fees will vary, so calling beforehand will make sure you are well prepared.

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Make sure you grab everything you need for Bryan Beach before you travel over the intercoastal so you will not have to drive in and out of town all day.

With 3 miles of gorgeous, undeveloped beach to enjoy, there is plenty to do at Bryan Beach from fishing to swimming, sunbathing, and more!

bryan beach in freeport, one of the best beaches in texas to visit

Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville

Often considered one of the prettiest beaches in Texas, Boca Chica Beach is a gem that is located near Brownsville, Texas.

Boca Chica is a perfect spot to spend the day birdwatching, surfing, and soaking up the sun.

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Boca Chica is also open for you and your family to be able to camp on, allowing you to soak in the sand and the waves all the while having your campsite nearby.

While you are there, you can even look out and see the lighthouse on the Mexican border.

bright orange sunset over boca chica beach, one of the best texas beaches to visit

Isla Blanca Beach, South Padre Island

Isla Blanca Beach is any beachgoer’s dream with the immense amount of amenities that it offers.

With over 600 RV sites, you can enjoy Isla Blanca Beach by bringing your trailer or camper with you.

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There are also plenty of opportunities to take part in multiple one-of-a-kind adventures from Isla Blanca Beach such as offshore fishing, snorkeling, and even parasailing.

Isla Blanca Beach has multiple ways to rent cabanas and offers multiple restaurants to enjoy during your trip.

Your trip to Isla Blanca Beach is sure to be a hit and keep you coming back year after year!

two children building a sandcastle on a sandy beach

Jamaica Beach

As one of the best beaches in Galveston, Texas, Jamaica Beach is a great destination for those that want to escape the city, but not travel too far.

Galveston is a short drive from Houston and offers a beach escape for all those in the city.

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Jamaica Beach is a great beach that offers you plenty of room to set up for a perfect day at the beach.

After your day at the beach, enjoy many Galveston restaurants such as The Spot to make your coastal Texas adventure complete.

sand dunes with some shrubbery on a beach in texas

Sea Rim State Park Beach

Tucked into the quiet part of the Gulf Coast close to the Texas/Louisiana border you’ll find Sea Rim State Park, which is the perfect combination of marsh and beach.

If you’re a birdwatcher, Sea Rim State Park is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Texas for you.

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When you travel to Sea Rim State Park you can spend your day watching as shorebirds come and go in the marsh area of the park.

You can then load up your family and drive directly on the beach to soak up the sights and sounds of one of the prettiest beaches in Texas to visit.

After you drive on the beach, you can set up your spot to soak in the saltwater air and the most perfect sand to construct sandcastles with.

sand piper on texas beach with shells sea rim state park

South Padre Island Beach

Featuring a whopping 34 miles of white sand beaches, Texas’ only tropical island is undoubtedly one of the prettiest and cleanest beaches in Texas to visit.

While the beaches turn into a raucous party scene during Spring Break, the rest of the year sees a much more relaxed side to the island.

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For most of the year, South Padre Island is perfect for families looking for relatively calm waters and excellent places to build sandcastles and memories.

SPI’s beaches are free to access (with a couple of limited exceptions like Isla Blanca Beach), with plenty of access points to choose from.

This is also one of the only beaches in Texas where you can reliably ride horses on the sand!

seagulls on a beach on south padre as seen during a long weekend in south padre itinerary

Crystal Beach

Quiet and beautiful Crystal Beach is located on a peninsula, allowing you a perfect little escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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Crystal Beach offers you glistening waters and plenty of space for you and your family to enjoy and is one of the best beaches in Texas for families.

You can enjoy the ferry ride from Crystal Beach to Galveston where you are likely to see dolphins and some truly incredible views.

2 photos of texas beaches: galveston from above and rockport from the shore. black and pink text on a white background reads "15 best beaches in texas"

10 thoughts on “17 of the Prettiest + Best Beaches in Texas (By a Texan!)”

  1. There are no fees or permits required for Bryan Beach and we also allow overnight camping – come play and stay for FREE!

    Reply
  2. Crystal Beach is the best kept secret in Texas. After driving on the beach to set your EZ up & enjoy the day on the beach you can go to Stingaree restaurant & Marina on the bay side to enjoy some of the best seafood in the state. Also Steve’s Landing for good food & atmosphere. Ship’s Wheel for live music & dancing on the Peninsula.

    Reply
  3. Surfside Beach (and extended Brazoria County Beach) allows vehicle access, overnight camping, and open fires – including fireworks during legal time-frames. They just require an annual pass that can be purchased at multiple places in town (e.g. any gas station). On holiday weekends, the traffic gets horrible, but get there early, stay late, and it’s great. Bring your own bathroom though, because there are none, and the cops will ask where you’re “going.”

    Reply

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