Every year, people come in droves from near and far to visit Texas’ beaches. But things have been a bit slower since Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Texas coast just before Labor Day last year. Beach towns like Port Aransas were devastated from the damage but are recovering nicely, open for business, and welcoming tourists with open arms. Here are five of the best beach spots in Texas to visit this summer.
As the world’s longest barrier island, Padre Island has its share of beachfront fun for relaxing vacationers and thrill seekers alike. On the north end, the Padre Island National Seashore offers 70 miles (112 kilometers) of coastline, more than 380 bird species, and sea turtle nesting grounds. Visitors can kayak the shallow waters of the Laguna Madre, fish, camp on the beach, watch a sea turtle hatchling release, and more on this protected portion of Padre Island. Kitesurfing is also great on Padre Island, with popular kitesurfing spots at the North Flats and Holly Beach. South Padre Island offers ample beach space as well, and has a Schlitterbahn Waterpark, brewery, shopping, birding, fishing, and more.
For a bit more of a party, head to Crystal Beach, which has a funky vibe that locals love. Located on the Bolivar Peninsula near Galveston, Crystal Beach allows vehicles on the sand and campfires, enticing visitors to set up a barbecue grill and get the festivities going. For those who want to continue the party after the sun goes down, there’s a selection of bars and nightclubs to choose from. This beach is also a great fishing destination, perfect for renting a beach cabin and enjoying that out-of-office time.
About an hour outside of Houston, Surfside Beach is the perfect spot for a day with the family. Although visitors can drive on the beach, Surfside is known for its cleanliness. Campfires are also permitted on the beach, which means seaside s’mores for all. Restaurants and lodging are plentiful, and a crabbing pier means fun for all to enjoy.
Port Aransas took a beating during Hurricane Harvey, but is shining bright and welcoming visitors, as almost all businesses are open again. The town is located on Mustang Island, an 18-mile-long (28 kilometers) barrier island near Corpus Christi. Mustang Island State Park offers 20 miles of paddling trails and wildlife watching, hiking, and mountain biking. During spring break, college kids swarm Port A, creating a wild party scene, but by the time summer rolls around, the beaches have calmed down and welcome families for vacation. Spend time lazing on the beach, fish from a pier or with a private charter, kayak or go birding during the day, and head into Port Aransas for the evening where restaurants, bars, shopping, and lodging abound.
For those wanting to escape from it all—even for just a few hours—Boca Chica Beach is a secluded haven. This pristine, eight-mile (12 kilometers) beach is the southernmost beach in Texas and is located near Brownsville and the Rio Grande Delta. There are no services and no bathrooms, so you’ll need to plan accordingly and bring your own food, water, and supplies. Unplug from everything with a good book on the beach, or go birding, surf fishing, or snorkeling. The area is protected by state and federal authorities as part of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, so please be respectful and pick up after yourself. This area is also a nesting ground for the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, so use caution and don’t touch them if spotted. There is no camping or overnight stays allowed in the refuge.