Best Texas Beaches on the Gulf Coast in 2024 (with a map!)

Get ready to swap your shoes for flip-flops and dive into the sunny vibes of Texas’s Gulf Coast! If you are wondering if there are any great beaches in Texas along the Gulf Coast – I am happy to report a definite YES!

We live in Central Texas and make our way down to our favorite Texas beaches as often as we can. I am busy planning our next trip as we speak for our 2024 Spring Break! From sandy stretches to ocean breezes, these beaches are the real deal when it comes to a great coastal getaway.

Picture yourself lounging on soft sand, listening to the waves dance, and soaking up the sun. Whether you’re a beach bum or just looking to try something new, these coastal hotspots have got you covered. Find out where to plan your next Texas beach vacation – and don’t worry, if I discover another new, great Texas beach town, I’ll update this list!

Whitecap Beach in Port Aransas - a beautiful clear water beach in Texas!

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Most Beautiful Beaches in Texas for a 2024 Getaway

The gulf coast beaches along the vast coastline in Texas are largely made up of those on the coastal barrier islands. Some require a ferry to access which just adds to the adventure!

Of all the beaches in Texas, here are our top recommendations for visiting the best and most beautiful of them all!

Malaquite Beach

North Padre Island | Location on Map | Parking: $10

It is no mistake that Malaquite Beach is at the top of this list. If you haven’t been there yet – go! This long stretch of sandy paradise is pure, raw, beach-y nature at it’s finest.

Malaquite Beach in Port Aransas

You won’t find food stands or watersport rentals at this beautiful beach in Texas, but you will find beautiful sand, clear water, and plenty of wildlife. The Visitor’s Center offers some informative materials, a gift shop with some supplies, a large parking lot, clean restrooms, and semi-shaded picnic tables and chairs.

Access the beach via the coastal boardwalk that takes you right on to the sand. Keep in mind that you can’t drive on the beach here like other most other beaches on this list, so consider bringing a wagon like we do to haul your beach gear.

Most beautiful beach in Texas - Malaquite Beach in Padre Island National Seashore

This beach is only open from 9am-5pm each day, so don’t plan on watching the sunset here. But if you are lucky, you might be able to enter at sunrise….for a sea turtle hatchling release! Check their social media for select dates throughout the summer.

Malaquite Campground is a great spot to pull up your RV or pitch a tent if you’d like to stay for more than a day. Be sure to catch the sunrise and sunset while you are at it – those golden hours do not disappoint!

Port Aransas Beach Park

Mustang Island | Location on Map | Parking: $12 per vehicle

Port Aransas Beach is marked by its iconic pier, and many miles of sand leading down the coastline on Mustang Island, a barrier island near Corpus Christi. You’ll find plenty of people here, but also plenty of things to do if you are looking for a lively beach in Texas.

For a quieter spot, head further down the beach and you are sure to find it!

Some of the most popular activities at Port Aransas Beach Park include surf lessons, deep sea fishing tours, boogie boarding, fresh seafood meals, birding, swimming and beach naps, and nature walks.

Port Aransas Beach

This beach is just a few minutes from downtown with all its cute shops and restaurants, so a very convenient beach to visit by golf cart as you wheel around town. We’re fans of Irie’s Island Food for Jamaican jerk chicken. For a special occasion, please do check out Rollin’ Tide for a shrimp boil on the beach! They’ll take care of everything for you – it is amazing!

Pick up a beach pass from a local store or from the stand after you arrive ($12) and park right on the sand. You’ll find packed sand that lines the road that makes it super convenient not to haul all your stuff around.

for the best beaches in Texas - check out Port Aransas! Photo taken just after sunset.

While Port Aransas Beach is not our personal favorite beach in the area, it is a favorite among many. It is also the closest beach to San Antonio. This beautiful coastline has easy access and a great location close to food and other amenities and activities for those would rather not explore further out.

Mustang Island State Park

Mustang Island | Location on Map | Admission: $5 for adults; free for children

Mustang Island State Park is a gorgeous beach just south of Port Aransas. I am sure you will love it! This beautiful beach is five miles long with tons of natural beauty and a quieter atmosphere than the beaches in downtown Port A.

Beautiful Mustang Island State Park at sunset

Fishing and swimming are very popular activities here. You can also explore by paddleboard or kayak. Be sure to stop by the Visitor’s Center for a paddling map and tips on which direction to head.

Mustang Island State Park is a lovely spot to build a sand castle, so we always bring along these buckets. They are our favorite! They collapse so easy on the storage space when traveling and we have had them for several years and they have held up great.

You can walk for miles down this beautiful beach in Port Aransas (five to be exact!) to find the perfect secluded spot for some real relaxation and peaceful nature experience. Or just nap under the umbrella with the sound of the waves – 10/10 recommend!

Since Mustang Island is a state park, you can enter for free with your Texas State Parks Pass, otherwise you’ll need to hand over $5 each for adults. Seasonal events take place here too, usually without a fee, so check out their calendar for nature walks, birding activities, star gazing, and more.

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island | Location on Map | Admission: $5 per adult

Galveston Island is not only one of the best beaches near Houston, it is also one of the best Texas beaches. Period.

We are huge fans of Texas state parks, and Galveston Island is one of our favorites. Expect to pay $5 per adult if you don’t have a parks pass in your glove box (I always keep mine there for easy access when a spontaneous adventure presents itself!).

Beach in Galveston

Galveston Island State Park offers great swimming, along with bird watching, fishing, kayaking, and even camping too. This state park beach is much quieter than the busy, action-packed beaches near the seawall, so keep it in mind if you are looking for a more relaxed day at the beach.

For some fantastic beach camping in Texas, Galveston Island State Park is the perfect spot whether you are in a tent or RV. Campsites are spacious and offered with with electrical outlets too. Local’s Tip: Bring a couple fans to help keep you cool in warm temps.

Restrooms are kept clean and you can also find water and an ice machine on site. Reserve a spot on the bay side on the grass for close beach access but less sand in your sleeping bag!

Explore the bay side walking trails for some lovely nature-y views. Watch for native birds and wildlife on your stroll. The Eskimo Curlew Trail will lead you to the wooden boardwalk while the Clapper Rail Loop will take you on a longer stroll throughout the park.

You can also rent a kayak on the bay side and explore the bay’s waterways. Check the calendar to see if they are offering a free guided sunset kayaking trip during your stay!

Isla Blanca Beach

South Padre Island | Location on Map | Parking: $12

The South Padre Island area covers 34 miles of sandy beach with arguably some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire state. You really can’t go wrong with any of the beaches on this barrier island, unless it is spring break in Texas and you were hoping for a quiet vacation!

However, standing out above the rest of the south Texas beaches in South Padre is the stunning Isla Blanca Beach. This beach is a mile long and is it gorgeous! The water is some of the clearest and bluest of all the Texas gulf coast beaches.

Isla Blanca Beach in South Padre Island

Stretch out on the soft sand (not quite white, but still wonderful), bring along a boogie board, or rent a paddle board for the day for some fun out on the water. Adventurers will love parasailing and snorkeling at Isla Blanca Beach.

This beach does get busy, but there is plenty of space so we don’t ever feel like it gets too crowded. Just head down the beach a bit for some extra space to spread out.

Pavilions are also available with BBQ pits (they do get busy) or you can pack a picnic. Sometimes food stands are available on site, but I wouldn’t plan on that. It is a bit of pain to leave and come back if you there aren’t any that day.

*Bonus* If you are in the area to see a SpaceX launch, Isla Blanca is also a great viewing spot!

Whitecap Beach

North Padre Island | Location on Map | Parking: $12

Located on North Padre Island, Whitecap Beach is SO MUCH FUN. One of our family’s favorite Texas ocean beach to return to again again, it really is a hidden gem.

Our children LOVED boogie boarding here and spent HOURS in the water. It was the highlight of our most recent vacation on the island over Memorial Day weekend.

Boogie boarding in on of Texas' best beach towns

You can park right on the beach at Whitecap, as well as get an overnight permit and enjoy a bonfire after sunset. We planned to build a bonfire while we were there and were prepared with our hot dogs and marshmallow sticks, but the wind was too strong during our trip. Not too worry, we will be back soon for sure!

The water is very clear here and the sand is soft and clean. We found beautiful shells and loved the clarity of the ocean – so many shades of blue! Restrooms are on site as well as lifeguards.

Whitecap Beach is not a super gentle beach, but we love the added small waves for boogie boarding and splashing in the water. Most days, lifeguards allow beach goers to enjoy the water up to waist height at Whitecap Beach. This is a pretty shallow entry beach, so heading out to play in the waves up to our waists was pretty far out with plenty of space to ride the waves in.

Whitecap Beach in Port Aransas Texas

The waves reach the shore pretty tamely, but those with really little ones may prefer another beach on the island if they don’t plan to hop in on the boogie boarding action. Nearby Padre Island National Seashore and Mustang Island State Park covered above are both great options.

Texas Gulf Coast Beaches FAQs

Are there beaches in Texas?

There sure are beaches in Texas! The Texas Gulf Coast offers hundreds of miles of sandy coastline with barrier islands lined with beautiful beach towns and places for a great Texas beach vacation! Popular spots include Port Aransas, Galveston Island, and South Padre Island.

Where are the prettiest beaches in Texas?

There are some of the prettiest beaches in Texas on South Padre Island where you will find Isla Blanca Beach and Boca Chica beach. We also love North Padre Island with their clear water and soft sand.

Where are the best beaches in Texas?

Check out our full article for the best beach in Texas! Top contenders include Padre Island National Seashore, Isla Blanca Beach, and Mustang Island State Park.

Best Beaches in Texas

Ready to out to one of Texas’s best beaches?! Save our handy map below and let us know where you plan to explore next!

If you are still on the fence, we encourage you to head to Galveston for some amazing history along with the sunsets, and to North Padre Island for some unmatched scenic beauty and wildlife!

Enjoy your salty, sandy adventure!

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