Texas has hundreds of miles along the Gulf Coast and the incredible beaches often fly way under the radar on the national scene. That means you have access to some incredible spots without the crowds descending from around the country. While the focus is heavy on Florida and California for places where you can kick back with the sand between your toes, Texas is ripe with opportunity. Here are a few great beaches to explore while staying in Rockport.
The Home Turf
When you don’t want to leave town and only have a few hours, the local Rockport Beach is hard to beat. It’s easy to access, open to the public and requires little to no planning. You could even just show up and hang out under a shaded pavilion to relax for an hour.
Better yet, take advantage of the facilities and have a barbecue, go for a swim and walk along the pristine waterfront. Rockport’s beach is renowned for being exceptionally clean and locals are proud of the waterfront here.
Keep in mind that glass bottles are not allowed and the beach. Dogs are also outlawed and while that is too bad for dog owners, it also ensures the beach remains clean, safe and pleasant for every single visitor.
If you are concerned about water quality, the water here is tested bi-weekly for the presence of bacteria. Check the texasbeachwatch.com website for updates before you swim.
Padre Island National Seashore
Wildlife lovers must visit Padre Island. The barrier island is large, undeveloped and it hosts sea turtles, hundreds of bird species, dolphins, marine life and plenty of elbow room. Over 70 miles of coastline is available with more than 30 miles of beaches to explore. You could easily spend a week here and not see everything.
South Padre is known as a party destination during spring break and the resorts and beaches are busy during this season. Plan your trip outside of the crowded times and you can have big beaches without the crowds. Lodging, restaurants and entertainment are abundant, making the island an easy place to combine the wildlife, sandy beaches and great accommodations for a great getaway.
Take a drive to the upper coast and the Bolivar Peninsula to enjoy the easily accessed Crystal Beach. You can drive right up to the sand and barbecue on the tailgate. The beach is popular during peak season for good reason, but scene is laid back and fun. It remains far less crowded than many of the beaches located adjacent to populated cities. The sunsets are epic and the ability to park right at the beach without taking a ferry is a huge bonus. You can easily make a weekend out of the trip by renting a vacation house or cabin adjacent to the beach. The entire beach is 4 miles long and is close enough to Houston to combine with a visit in the city.
Mustang Island State Park
Located in Port Aransas, this is another local favorite and a perfect day trip from Rockport. The Island has opportunities for hikers and bikers, but the beaches are difficult to ignore. It’s undeveloped and open to public access.
Combing the beaches for shells is a favorite activity and you can walk for miles along the tranquil shorelines. The tides are constantly bringing new treasures to the beaches and you might even find a fossil or two. If you really want an adventure, take advantage of the camping options and stay for a few days. You can camp in the park or just outside of the park.
San Jose Island
Anyone spending time in Rockport just must visit San Jose Island. The island is isolated and only is accessible by ferry, but the shuttle is available on an hourly schedule. While the island is privately held, you can still explore a fair amount of ground. Fisherman love the habitat here and casting a line off the beach or rocks might bring back a sea trout, redfish or one of the many species swimming through the waters here.
Like Mustang Island, the tides bring in sea shells and you can comb the beaches all day without seeing the same place twice. All of the beaches are open, but the interior island is off limits as private property. The ferry travels between San Jose and Mustang Islands as well. Consider seeing both islands on a multi-day camping trip of even a single, busy day of beach bumming.