Amazing coast and camping. Marred only by the speeding trucks and park personnel whose main job appears to be making sure the beach is clear for trucks to continue speeding.
When traveling to Padre Island National Seashore there are several options for finding the perfect spot to settle in. While improved camping is just an exit up for $8, those wanting to get the true beach comber off grid experience can do so at the North Beach turn off.
We went to check out this immense 60 mike stretch of beach that is advertised as untouched and unimproved, just drive out and set up for free. It sounded great, that was until we got there in a small car.
Depending on conditions the sand can quickly evolve from tight packed to shifty and almost like quicksand. Signs are clearly posted that driving out on the sad is indeed at your own risk and if you become stuck tow trucks can be called. What that sign does not elaborate on however is the heightened cost of those two services.
We drove forward a bit on the sand and began to bog down quickly and thus had to call the drive off. This limited our access to the miles and miles of beach ahead. Camping was available where we are however was very congested in this area which was much closer to the initial turn off.
While cost of camping here is free, there is a small cost of admission to the Seashore. My suggestion is taking advantage of the National Park pass which is good at any of the hundreds of national facilities for one calendar year. Cost of this is $80 per year but covers admission for up to 4 adults to landmarks and parks. This pass does not cover parking where applicable or camping.
- As there are no improved services pack a potty. While you might not need this on your trip better safe than sorry.
- Dig a hole for your campfire but do not simply cover it to extinguish it. Make sure you fire is completely out and cooled before covering it with sand otherwise the sand will insulate the heat and could burn the next person coming to your area.
We showed up late while the tide was up which was a little unsettling, but we were assured it was at high as it gets. A little ways up the road was a RV lot with bathrooms and showers. Left shortly after sunrise.
Padre Island has a few different campground with different amenities and access. This one is great because you can choose any spot on the beach! RVs can drive out on the sand (which is honestly pretty annoying just because it ruins the vibe) and tents can choose any site. There are no facilities at this campground.
Yay: love this park so much. Before driving out, talk to the rangers at the visitor center and make sure you understand the rules and that the weather will be safe.
Nay: windy and sandy, but worth it. Be careful driving on the sand, you can get stuck with a sedan. We chose to park our sedan and “backpack” a half mile or so along the sand up the beach.
Surprise: I can’t say enough about how amazing this camping experience is!
We have been here multiple times for spring break and it's very nice, there is free beach camping which we have not done since it's so windy, but also campgrounds, this one is on the ocean side as a pose to the other campground which is on kind of a canal. The campground is protected by dunes but still pretty windy, the majority of the sites are for RVs however all the way at the end by the community fire pit are a few tent sites which have a walkway to the beach right there, a bit far from the bathroom though, but it has showers. There is also a visitor center about a mile away and town is around 15 miles and has everything you need but groceries so stop before you get on the island.
This is a free-for-all camping area where you can set up wherever you want but there’s no water and not even toilets…hence it’s called “primitive.” Lovely breezes, wave crashing to lull you to sleep, shore birds, everything… But there are also a lot of dune buggies though, which can be annoying.
I took my daughters here so we could camp on the beach and enjoy the stars. We camped on the first come, first served side with so many others. Since tents and RVs can share the same space, it tends to be a bit noisier with all the generators. The wildlife hunting was great. Ghost crabs will be rubbing up against your tent all night. We did happen to be there for the release of some sea turtles which was the highlight. Get there early for a good spot and makes sure to have a portable shade and sunscreen.
Hope you are well practiced in setting up a tent in windy conditions :) Awesome , clean area to camp ON the beach. This area is prior to the Padre Island gate where you pay 10$ access fee. BUT, it's good for 7 days. You need to be aware of the weather of course.
The campground is mostly suitable for travel trailers or vehicles rather than tents. It is large and paved, good amenities, good access to the beach. The beach spans the entire gulf coast if you are interested in walking from Florida to Mexico. I come here often and love to stay out on the beach.
Large paved lot. Tables set up to be behind your rv. Kind of a strange setup. Showers and baths were clean. Laundry on site. Somewhat protected by dunes. No view of water. Pretty cheap and good access to beach. Don't forget to buy a parking pass if you are going to drive on the beach.