This guide to beach camping in Texas is brought to you by our friends at Mountain House, whose freeze dried meals make for easy camping food, no matter where you choose to stake your tent.
There are plenty of popular spots to visit when the weather gets cold. Each year, right around the time the snow hits up north, flights are booked and travel plans made for migration to warmer temperatures. Every snowbird has their favorite: Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Quartzsite. But what about Texas? Surely the second-largest state has something to offer the warm weather seekers from the cold (and wet) Northern regions of the United States.
Good news: it does.
Better news: it’s really really awesome.
What You Need To Know About Beach Camping in Texas
Texas has beaches. Galveston, South Padre Island, Padre Island, Corpus Christi. When you think “beach,” try somewhere between the Santa Monica Pier and Cumberland Island in Georgia.
They’re not tropical beaches, but they’re not mossy, swamp beaches either. They’re sandy and offer spectacular sunsets. Some of the beaches in Texas are beach-town beaches, meaning they’re surrounded by tourist attractions, waterparks, and other fun things meant to attract the more traditional beach goers. Other beaches, like Boca Chica, for example, are on the quieter side, offering reasonable accommodations and local digs that tend to draw the less touristy types.
Where to Go Beach Camping in Texas
Beach camping in Texas offers just as much variety as the many coastal destinations. While there are a variety of options available to campers, each beach offers its own experience, from reservations to accommodations, including a site that allows you to camp in the middle of a marsh (you read that right).
Camp With Your Friends (and Make New Ones): South Padre Island
Perhaps the most well-known of Texas’ beach camping options are the beaches on Padre Island. Both North and South Beach offer open RV and primitive camping with no reservations required except a camping permit, which are available for free at the entrance to both beaches. Beach camping here is a “free-for-all” style that makes it a thrilling option for those looking for a carefree, people-centric camping experience.
As far as amenities go, there are a few barbecue grills spread out around the beach, and fires are allowed as long as they’re dug into the ground. There are flush toilets and cold-water showers available at the Malaquite Visitor Center. It’s worth noting that the nearest amenities are around 12 miles from each beach, so hopeful campers should come prepared with enough fuel, food, and supplies to last for their trip.
For reservable camping options on Padre Island, check out the South Padre Island KOA.
Camp Near a River and the Ocean: Matagorda Bay
Matagorda Bay Nature Park is a gorgeous 1,333-acre park and nature preserve located at the mouth of the Colorado River. Along with two miles of beachfront, the park offers visitors a variety of nature activities, including kayaking, beachcombing, birdwatching, and horseback riding. Camping at Matagorda Bay is a great way to experience the nature of the coast without a lot of noise. Matagorda has 22 campsites with full RV hookups, 19 waterfront campsites, 24 “preferred” campsites, and 5 additional pull-through campsites. There are showers and RV dump stations available to all guests.
In addition to the reservable sites, Matagorda has a small primitive campground with 13 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis, located near the dock area. Unlike most “primitive” campsites, each site is equipped with a BBQ pit and fire ring.
Camp in the Water, Literally: Sea Rim State Park
Sea Rim State Park: Located in Port Arthur, Sea Rim offers 15 campsites with electricity and a whopping 75 primitive campsites. While the electric campsites do require reservations and include picnic tables, an outdoor grill, and water hookups, the primitive sites don’t require reservations.
The most unique thing about Sea Rim State Park is its “floating” primitive campsite, which is located in the state park’s marsh, 2 miles from the boat ramp, and accessible via shallow draft boat only. The site itself is a 13’ x 20’ wooden floating campsite, and there are special requirements around camping there, such as bringing buckets and wag bags with enzymes to neutralize waste. There are also no toilets or “ash-producing” fires allowed at the campsite. Unlike the other primitive sites at Sea Rim, registration is required for this campsite.
Camp Near Adventure: Mustang Island
Mustang Island State Park, near Corpus Christi, is a gem of beach camping in Texas, featuring over 5 miles of coastline with activities like fishing, beaching (obviously), mountain biking, and geocaching. The State Park offers 48 sites with electric and water and 50 primitive sites. While the electric sites are around 50 yards from the water (separated by small sand dunes), the primitive sites are available on the 1.5 beach stretching to the tip of the island. Showers, water, and portable toilets are available throughout the shoreline. Full restrooms and hot-water showers are located near the official island campground.
A unique facet of Mustang Island State Park is its paddling trail of the same name. This trail network of over 20 miles follows the western shoreline of the island, and offers fishing as well as expansive views along the way. Conveniently, the paddling trail offers a variety of ways to experience it, whether through the 5-mile Shamrock loop, the 8.5 mile North Trail, and the 7-mile Ashum Trail, each of which provides a slight variation in experience and opportunity for activities like fishing, birdwatching, and sightseeing.
Camped here or elsewhere on the Texas beaches? Let us know! Share your trip on The Dyrt!
This post was brought to you by our friends at Mountain House
Mountain House offers the best freeze dried food around, so give it a try on your next trip!