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Free Camping Collection

Dispersed Camping

South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore

About

National Park Service

Welcome to South Beach at Padre Island National Seashore! This dispersed camping area offers a raw and authentic beach camping experience. If you're into fishing, sunbathing, bird watching, or photography, you'll find plenty to keep you busy here. On some evenings, you might even spot deer and coyotes emerging from the sand dunes to feed on seaweed and fish remains.

One of the standout features of this area is its accessibility. You can drive right onto the beach and find your perfect spot to set up camp. Just remember, this is primitive camping, so you'll need to bring your own water, food, and supplies. There are no picnic tables or sewer hookups, but you will find clean chemical toilets near the beach entrance and showers at the visitor's center.

Speaking of the visitor's center, it's a handy spot to stock up on ice and other essentials before heading down the beach. The center also has water, trash bins, and bathrooms. Fires are allowed, so you can dig a hole and enjoy a campfire right on the beach—just make sure to bring your own firewood.

For those who love bird watching and collecting seashells, this place is a paradise. With 63 miles of barrier island sand to explore, you can easily find a secluded spot away from the crowds. And if you're a holder of the "America the Beautiful" pass, camping here is free!

The nearby community of Padre Island offers restaurants and gas stations, and if you need more extensive supplies, Corpus Christi is just a short drive away. So pack your gear, prepare for some sand in your shoes, and get ready to enjoy the natural beauty of the Texas coast.

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Location

South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore is located in Texas

Detail location of campground

Coordinates

27.39076025 N
97.31334055 W

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Access

  • Drive-In
    Park next to your site

Stay Connected

  • WiFi
    Unknown
  • Verizon
    Good
  • AT&T
    Available
  • T-Mobile
    Available

Site Types

  • Dispersed

Features

For Campers

  • Market
  • Trash
  • Phone Service
  • WiFi
  • Showers
  • Drinking Water
  • Electric Hookups
  • Toilets
  • Alcohol
  • Pets
  • Fires

For Vehicles

  • Sanitary Dump
  • Water Hookups
  • Big Rig Friendly

Reviews

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28%
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4.5

out of 5

11 Reviews

RThe Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Mar. 10, 2024

South Beach, Padre Island National Seashore

We've spent many winter months around the Corpus Christi, Texas area and visit South Beach frequently. Plenty to do; fishing, sunbathing, bird watching, photography, and on some evenings after dark you can spot deer and coyote come out of the sand dunes to feed on seaweed and fish remains. We prefer to camp at nearby Malequite campground for $5 a night with water, bathrooms and showers. The visitor's center has some supplies.

SiteAny with a view of the surf
Month of VisitFebruary
Tucker B.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Apr. 6, 2021

Be Ready For Sand Everywhere!

Such a silly thing to realize. It is the beach, after all!

But my brain didn't compute that wind + sand = sand in tents, food, pants, etc!

But, still, this spot was easily accessible for our first night in the park (even with the coastal flood warning!).

There was no one in the visitor's center when we arrived just after 5pm. But they do sell ice there if you need to stock up before heading down the beach.

There's also water, trash bins, and a bathroom at that location. Just make sure you stock up on firewood before coming into the park!

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Tucker B., April 6, 2021
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Tucker B., April 6, 2021
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Tucker B., April 6, 2021
  • (8) View All
Shari  G.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Dec. 29, 2020

Calling All Bird Watchers & Sea Shell Hounds...

There is a whole lot of Texas, but not a ton of public land lies therein. One exception to this is Padre Island National Seashore. With 63 miles of barrier island sand available to drive and camp on, it is impossible not to get away from it all.  And if you are a card carrying "America the Beautiful" pass holder, this place is FREE to camp!

Once you move away from the developed roads to the seaside sand, which is easy enough to drive on even with just front-wheel drive so long as you stay on the flats, you leave behind any services, water, electricity and toilets. Bring everything you need with you and you’ll be fine. We brought our solar panel and had all the electricity we could possibly want for 8 full days.

Park your rig just to the dune side of the highwater “roadway” and you’ll be out of the way for the many vehicles who come to fish, camp, or just explore this natural wonder. No OHV vehicles are allowed on the beach, which is considered a highway, so leave the toy-hauler behind. Opportunities to birdwatch, hike or bike along the beach, play in the surf or just lie in the sand are as numerous as the stars. We found some LTE by hiking up onto the high dunes, but just enough to call, text, or check email. 

Within 15 miles, the small community of Padre Island offers plenty of restaurants and gas stations but cross the bridge into Corpus Christi and you’re in full-blown suburban Texas. Ice and water kiosks are everywhere so bring your quarters to fill up.

Month of VisitJanuary
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Shari  G., December 29, 2020
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Shari  G., December 29, 2020
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Shari  G., December 29, 2020
  • (9) View All
Jim L.
Reviewed Aug. 15, 2020

Padre Island

I stayed here for a month. Just me and my back packing equipment. Just beautiful.

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Jim L., August 15, 2020
C
Reviewed Sep. 2, 2019

An absolutely stunning place to camp!

You are able to drive down the beach to find your perfect spot to set up your tents by the dunes! Very clean chemical toilets are near the beach entrance and very clean showers are up at the visitors center. During the day you will have day visitors set up near you but not on top of you but at night it was like we were the only people on the beach! Dig a hole and you can have a fire right on the beach it is absolute heaven!

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Chastity H., September 2, 2019
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Chastity H., September 2, 2019
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Chastity H., September 2, 2019
  • (5) View All
Lisa B.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Jul. 7, 2019

Beautiful and natural!

This is PRIMITIVE (even 1 mile down there’s no luxuries)= bring plenty of H20, food, GAS, supplies and a 4wd for the farther down areas. Having some understanding of beach camping will serve you well! The wind can easily blow over fiberglass pole tents (metal is best w/sandbag type weights & sand tent stakes, you will thank me!), the tide can sneak up and bury your tires while you sleep, read the beach and park accordingly. A shovel for a level sleeping area, dig out or unfortunately removing the occasional trash is a good idea. Come prepared to go without cell service and resort to communicating with one another! Any style portable toilet is necessary! I use a Nemo pressure shower to stay clean and sane. Pack it in, pack it out. Dumpster/toilets at beach entrance. The beach is a road, beware of speeding vacationers @ all hours. The Malaquite visitors center has showers and a park store. Rates are amazing for the experience trade off! Pay at the booth at the entrance or at the toilet/dumpster area (honor system). A great place to enjoy the beauty of the Texas coast!

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Lisa B., July 7, 2019
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Lisa B., July 7, 2019
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Lisa B., July 7, 2019
  • (7) View All
Sam D.
Reviewed Aug. 31, 2016

Great place to camp on the beach!

Padre Island is an awesome place to camp on the beach. The sites here are primitive campsites, so you need to bring your own water and food. I prefer this style of camping, so it works for me!

I would definitely recommend this spot to anyone down in that area.

K
Reviewed Aug. 31, 2016

Padre Island National Park

This is one of a few campgrounds here that are “primitive” style meaning you have to bring your own water and just maybe there’s a vault toilet. Camping is free since they don’t provide you with any services. It’s a great place to camp but all our tents collapsed in the wind so you should bring a nicer tent. Wildflowers were lovely.

Shelly S.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Aug. 23, 2016

Take your pick

Tent or vehicle camping on the beach, what's not to like. The other area has electric and water hook up but call ahead and reserve. Whole area well maintained. Enjoyed my visit even though I'm more of a mountain person.

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Shelly S., August 23, 2016
  • Bird area with boat ramp down a separate  road
    Play button icon
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Shelly S., August 23, 2016
  • (10) View All
Andrea F.
Reviewed Jul. 21, 2016

Heavily trafficked but clean

This campground and beach area is heavily trafficked by tourists and locals, but is still kept quite clean. There are basic amenities such as restrooms and trash facilities. Nothing fancy.

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Andrea F., July 21, 2016
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Andrea F., July 21, 2016
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Andrea F., July 21, 2016
R
Reviewed Jul. 9, 2016

Camping on the Beach

We've camped on the beach at Padre Island National Seashore twice. The campground has always been fully booked but there is access to the beach and you can camp on the sand. It gets a little crowded on holiday weekends but there are MILES of sand so you can just drive until you find a spot that suits your fancy. I have a 2WD vehicle and was a little concerned about getting stuck. Fortunately, there were plenty of people on their beach with 4WD who were more than willing to use their toy to pull me out.

I contemplated giving my review fewer stars because this is Texas and the beaches are not nearly as nice as those in other parts of the US. We had issues with seaweed washing up both times but the water was clean. There are no facilities on the beach but the visitors center has showers and flush toilets.

  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Richard M., July 9, 2016
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Richard M., July 9, 2016
  • Review photo of South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore by Richard M., July 9, 2016
  • (5) View All

Frequently Asked Questions

Does South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore have RV hookups?

According to TheDyrt.com, South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore has water hookups.

Are fires allowed at South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore?

Yes, according to campers on TheDyrt.com, fires are allowed at South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore, although make sure to check current fire restrictions in the area.

Does South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore have wifi?

Yes, according to campers on TheDyrt.com, South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore does have wifi.

Is there cell phone reception at South Beach — Padre Island National Seashore?

According to campers on TheDyrt.com, Verizon signal is good, AT&T is available, and T-Mobile is available.