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Best Beaches in Texas

With more than 370 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico's teal and emerald water, Texas is home to plenty of beach vacation options. To determine which Texas beaches stand out from the rest, U.S. News considered factors like sights, beach quality and amenities, as well as reader and expert insight. Vote for your favorite stretch of sand in the Lone Star State below to help influence next year's ranking.


Best Beaches in Texas

  • Boca Chica
  • Padre Island National Seashore
  • South Padre Island
  • Mustang Island
  • Rockport Beach
  • Crystal Beach
  • Corpus Christi
  • Lighthouse Beach
  • Matagorda Bay Nature Park
  • Surfside Beach, TX
  • San José Island
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    Boca Chica

    #1 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Located north of Mexico across the Rio Grande, Boca Chica is a serene and laid-back Texas beach destination. Boca Chica may lack the bells and whistles of other beach towns, but it makes up for its lack of extravagant activities with its tried-and-true classic beach offerings. You can pass the time fishing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling and more – just remember to bring your own equipment. Boca Chica's stretch of sand is also the perfect spot to set up a beach chair and read a good book or admire the sea.

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    Padre Island National Seashore

    #2 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Situated about 30 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Padre Island National Seashore stretches across 70 miles of beaches, dunes and tidal flats. Visitors can camp, kayak, windsurf and swim in this protected area. The soft and wide shoreline – the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world – is ideal for long walks. Plus, budding naturalists can learn more about local wildlife and conservation efforts from park rangers during interpretive programs and public sea turtle hatchling releases.

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    Belongs on List?

    South Padre Island

    #3 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Once considered a premier spring break destination, South Padre Island's beaches now welcome families in droves. The island's Gulf of Mexico vistas, affordable accommodations and wide, sandy shores attract travelers year after year. Some of the most coveted sands can be found in Isla Blanca Park, which sits on the southern edge of the island and features pavilions with food options, boating facilities, fishing spots and more. Other fun attractions available on South Padre Island include Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Sea Turtle, Inc., a rehabilitation center for sea turtles.

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    Mustang Island

    #4 in Best Beaches in Texas

    A barrier island located just east of Corpus Christi, Mustang Island is a favorite beach destination for families and active travelers. Surfing and camping are popular things to do at this beach, while the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail (a 20-mile series of shallow-water canals) offers opportunities to kayak, canoe and paddleboard. If you're not keen on breaking a sweat during your visit, you can stretch out and watch for turtles, dolphins and birds on the island's 18-plus miles of beautiful sands.

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    Rockport Beach

    #5 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Rockport Beach overlooks Aransas Bay in southeastern Texas. At this crescent-shaped beach, vacationers will find volleyball courts, picnic tables and a pier that's a hot spot for fishing. Additionally, travelers can go for a stroll along the promenade that backs the sands or set up chairs for relaxing and sunbathing on the beach, which past sun seekers lauded for its overall cleanliness. In fact, the shore is so pristine that it was recognized as the first Blue Wave Beach in Texas by the Clean Beaches Coalition.

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    Crystal Beach

    #6 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Crystal Beach sits on the Bolivar Peninsula, which separates Galveston Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. The beach's secluded location (accessible by ferry from Galveston) means that its ratio of hermit crabs to beachgoers is often quite distinct. When travelers are not searching for hermit crabs, they can go fishing or bird-watching. More than 100 species of migratory birds visit the peninsula every year. Crystal Beach also welcomes campers and permits building campfires directly on the sand.

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    Corpus Christi

    #7 in Best Beaches in Texas

    While many travelers staying in Corpus Christi make daytrips to the shorelines that surround it, the city boasts its own beaches, too. McGee Beach – a small, clean option within walking distance of downtown – offers gentle waves and a jetty for fishing. Alternatively, there's North Beach, which beachgoers can reach by crossing the Harbor Bridge. In addition to featuring a 1 1/2-mile stretch of sand, North Beach sits adjacent to attractions like the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington.

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    Lighthouse Beach

    #8 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Although the boardwalk at Lighthouse Beach is currently closed to repair damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, the popular beach in Port Lavaca still warrants a visit. Small children can take advantage of the beach's splash pad, while older kids and adults can swim in Lavaca Bay. The shoreline also doubles as a bird sanctuary, so nature lovers will likely love taking a short stroll on the beach's Formosa Wetlands Walkway. For an even closer connection to local wildlife, travelers can camp at one of Lighthouse Beach's campgrounds.

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    Matagorda Bay Nature Park

    #9 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Texas' Colorado River flows more than 800 miles southeast across the state until it empties into the Gulf of Mexico by Matagorda Bay Nature Park. Two miles of coastline and 1,333 acres of land comprise the park, and available activities range from camping to fishing to swimming. Travelers can also try horseback riding on the beach and looking for birds in the park's coastal marshes. Visitors who don't bring their own beach equipment can rent items like paddleboards, beach chairs and beach wagons from the park service.

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    Surfside Beach, TX

    #10 in Best Beaches in Texas

    It's hardly surprising that the beach serves as the primary attraction in this small town located 40 miles southwest of Galveston. Also not shocking: Surfside Beach's deep water creates superb conditions for surfing, kayaking and windsurfing. When you're not in the water, the shoreline's clean environment and soft sand provide an ideal setting for soaking up some sun while napping or reading a book. Plus, the beach offers a fishing jetty and a splash pad with 10 water features.

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    San José Island

    #11 in Best Beaches in Texas

    Travelers hoping to take in the natural beauty of San José Island will need to embark on a short ferry ride from Port Aransas, which sits about 40 miles northeast of Corpus Christi. The island features 21 miles of pristine coastline, but visitors only have access to the sands below the vegetation line. The beaches offer plenty to do, though. Popular activities include birding, shelling and fishing. While swimming or fishing from the island's jetties, keep an eye out for sea turtles; the marine animals are commonly spotted in the area.

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