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8 Incredible Islands in Texas

For a side of Texas that most visitors never see, drive until you hit the Gulf of Mexico, and then keep going until you hit the best islands in Texas!

While many of Texas’ islands are too small and isolated to be worth exploring, there are plenty that are well worth a visit, and filled with opportunity for adventure as well as historical significance.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend of adventure, you are sure to find it on one of the best islands off of Texas.

Here are the best Texas islands to visit!

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

Padre Island

Padre Island is the longest and widest barrier island in the world, home to the gorgeous Padre Island National Seashore, and a laid-back beach destination for many families around the country.

There are plenty of things you can do with your family these include enjoying the island’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife, from going on a pirate cruise to visiting a rehab center for injured sea turtles.

Padre Island is most popular for its wildlife. It has a huge bird population and is home to lots of unique animals like the rare Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle. This beautiful sea turtle is the rarest turtle in this world and it is considered an endangered species.

Padre Island National Seashore near Port Aransas TX as seen from above

South Padre Island

South Padre Island is a beautiful beach paradise located in Texas about 20 miles from the Mexican border, and the only tropical island in Texas!

With long stretches of beautiful beach, South Padre Island will make you forget that you’re in the land of deserts and cowboys–at least until you go horseback riding on the beach.

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While you’re there, be sure to also visit the sea turtle rescue, watch the sunset over the bay, and give a new adventure a try. From parasailing to fishing charters, there are plenty of fun things to do on South Padre Island to choose from.

If you want to visit South Padre Island at its busiest, make sure to come by during spring break, when college students descend on the island. If partying isn’t your thing, come any time but mid-March!

Kate Storm in a blue tank top holding her puppy ranger on the wide san beach of south padre island, one of the best islands in texas

Galveston Island

Galveston Island is another one of Texas’ great barrier islands. Galveston Island is home to some of Texas’ most popular beaches and a vacation destination for many Texas families, especially those from nearby Houston.

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Galveston Island attracts millions of beachgoers every year and has many tourist attractions. Some of the most popular things to do in Galveston are visiting amusement parks like moody gardens, The Pleasure Pier, and Schlitterbahn.

If you are more interested in nature, you can soak up the sun in one of Galveston’s many beautiful beaches or go on a dolphin-watching tour. Galveston Island is also filled with plenty of stores to shop in and restaurants to choose from.

Victorian homes in Galveston things to do

Matagorda Island

Matagorda Island is the island to visit if what you’re wanting to do is stay off the grid, as this wildlife refuge is only accessible by boat.

Once you’re here you’re welcome to stay and camp, just make sure you remember that Matagorda Island has no running water or electricity.

Matagorda Island is one of the most beautiful islands in Texas, partially because of its remote feel, and is famous for its fishing and wildlife. If you stay and camp make sure you look up at night and enjoy the beautiful view of the infinite sky coming to life.

sand dunes with some shrubbery on a beach in texas

Mustang Island

Located just 40 minutes from Corpus Christi, Mustang Island is one of the most popular islands in Texas and a fantastic place for a beach vacation.

Mustang Island is famous for Mustang Island State Park, which offers family tons of outdoor activities to enjoy. Mustang Island State Park is known for its abundance of wildlife, specifically birds. 

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Port Aransas is the largest town on the island and is a favorite retreat for families looking to enjoy fishing, dolphin watching, and a sea breeze.

Mustang Island is also home to the Texas Sandfest. This competition is the largest natural sand sculpting competition in the United States. This competition brings famous sculptors from all around the world to create and showcase their art at Mustang Island. The competitions also donate a percentage of its proceeds to local charities.

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

San Jose Island

San Jose Island is a popular destination from Texans who just want to get away from it all.

San Jose Island is an island that is mostly managed for its wildlife, this unique island has some of the places that have been untouched by humans for years. People are only allowed in certain areas of the island and aren’t allowed to cross the vegetation line.

In addition to this, you can only get to San Jose Island by ferry, and no vehicles are allowed on the island.

The island is a paradise for any tressure hunter since there are rumors about tressures being buried by the Spanish in the 1500s.

San Jose Island also has an area known as “The Fishing Capital Of Texas” that is extremely popular among anglers.

San Jose Island is just a short ferry ride away from Port Aransas, making it an easy day trip to add on to a vacation on Mustang Island.

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

Ward Island

Ward Island is popular because of its historical significance. Up until WWII, this Texas island was deserted, but during the war, it was used as the home to the Naval Air Technical Training Center.

This state of the art facility was where navy officers were trained to use technology like radar. After WWII, the facility was closed.

Today, Ward Island is mostly used by Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

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Pelican Island

Pelican Island is another Texas island located close in proximity to Houston, and it is connected to Galveston Island by a causeway.

Pelican Island is known for being home to Texas A&M University at Galveston.

This island is also known for its great fishing and picnic locations at Seawolf Park. Seawolf Park is also home to several United States of America Military aquatic vehicles that you can tour.

Some of the things you can tour are a WWI tanker, a WWII Destroyer, and the largest concrete ships to have ever been constructed.

photo of purple flowers on padre natioanl seashore, black text on a white background reads "the best islands in texas"

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