beach camping in texas

Beach Camping in Texas

Our favorite part about camping in Texas is the sheer variety. From one location to the next, the landscapes and terrains are so vastly different. The South Texas Plains and the Gulf Coast appear a world away when compared to camping in the Old Country, Big Bend, or any of Texas’ state parks.

Camping in Texas is a vague description of what you’ll be doing, so don’t go overboard. Depending on where you go camping in Texas, it may mean anything from the desert to the plains, to a lake, to the woods, to the prairies, or even to the beach like in this example.

A good tent, some sand, and some sunshine are all you need for the perfect summer vacation. After that, everything else will fall into place. A beach camping trip is one of the best vacations in the world.

It’s difficult to find a better place to unwind and meditate. Anywhere you go camping, you’re escaping from the rest of the world. It’s impossible to be anything but carefree when the seashore is involved.

There’s nothing quite like a camping trip along the coast. Relaxing waves, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, a variety of things to do, and obligatory sunbathing are just a few of the perks of being on the beach.

You may also include the crackling of beach bonfires, as well as the liberation that comes from spending days at the beach or swimming with friends and family. In any situation, it’s difficult to top this. Surfing and sunbathing at the water’s edge are two of the best ways to spend a vacation.

Why go Beach Camping in Texas?

Texas is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. The 350 miles of golden beaches along the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters are the best representation of this truth. Campers can enjoy some of the greatest birding in the country in this area. The Gulf Coast is known as a fishing hotspot, and water sports aficionados enjoy a wide range of possibilities.

Of course, beach camping in Texas isn’t limited to the Gulf Coast. Because of the state’s size, there are a plethora of wonderful alternatives to choose from. In collaboration with our users, we narrowed the field to only a few highly rated products.

This is by no means a complete list, and we’d be delighted to hear your suggestions. Nevertheless, this is one of the best camping spots in the state.

Check out our post on camping near Flagstaff, Arizona as well.

Camping on the Island of Mustang

Beach at Mustang Island State Park
Beach at Mustang Island State Park

There are nearly five miles of pristine beach on the barrier island of Mustang Island State Park. Padre Island and the JFK causeway, which connects Corpus Christi to the island, are located at the southernmost tip of the island. Plenty of sandy beaches and entertaining activities await visitors at this location.

Birdwatching and canoeing are just two of the activities available at Mustang Island State Park. Taking you down Corpus Christi Bay’s western side and through some of the top shallow-water fishing spots in the state.

Swimming, fishing, and geocaching are additional options nearby. Make sure to pack your fishing gear and rent a boat to capture one of the various fish varieties the island provides.

Nesting sea turtles can be seen in the months of April through July. The beach’s sand is clean and uniform, making it an ideal location for constructing a sandcastle.

Almost a hundred different camping options may be found on Mustang Island. In addition to the 50 rustic campsites, there are also 48 electrically-powered campsites.

50 yards from the water, the electricity-powered campsites are located. First-come, first-served applies to the primitive camping areas. Per night, you’ll have to pay $10 for a camping permit.

Mustang Island’s beaches are some of the most beautiful and remote in Texas, making it an excellent location for a camping trip into the wild.

There are RV campsites on the island, as well as drive-up spaces. A free ferry service transports visitors to and from the island. $20 per night is the cost of a hookup-equipped campground.

Showers, bathrooms, and running water are all available on certain campgrounds. Since there are trash cans scattered along the shoreline, garbage disposal is a breeze.

The island has a modest volume of visitors. Port Aransas, a nearby shopping and dining destination, is only a short drive away.

Padre Island National Seashore’s South and North Beaches

Beach on Padre Island
One of the Beaches on Padre Island

In a tranquil location, Padre Island is home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. It’s one of the most breathtaking views in the state.

Padre Island National Seashore is a popular destination for beach campers for a variety of reasons, including the clear sky, cool sea breezes, comfortable evenings, and relative seclusion.

At South Beach and North Beach, primitive camping is accessible. There is no need to make a reservation. Once you’ve paid for your camping ticket at the tourist center, you may set up your tent almost anywhere on the beach. If you are looking for a new tent, check out our Coleman Hampton 9 Person Tent review.

In addition to RV and tent camping, Bird Island Basin Campground offers a wonderful location for both. If you are looking for a suitable place to camp in any season, the campsites are available year-round. However, the greatest time to camp in Texas may be found by checking out this website.

Because the closest facilities are around 12 miles away, it’s critical to arrive well-prepared. At the Malaquite Visitor Center, there are showers and facilities. Near the South Beach entrance, you’ll discover huge trash and a chemical toilet.

The endangered Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle hatchlings are released on the seashore. Rehabilitated hatchlings are returned to their natural habitat.

Ranger-led sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the lovely camp. Binoculars are highly recommended due to the abundance of birdlife in the area, which numbers in the hundreds of different species. Hike the picturesque Grasslands Nature Trail after you’re done lazing about.

To avoid any misunderstanding, South Padre Island is not part of the national seashore. South Padre Island, a famous spring break destination, is a resort town. Right near to the national coastline, it’s a convenient location.

Sea Rim State Park

Sea Rim State Park
Sea Rim State Park at Sunset Over the Marsh

The Sea Rim State Park is located in the very southeast part of the state, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the marshes. Campers can set up camp right on the sand at Seam Rim State Park, which is nestled between two wildlife refuges.

Electricity and other facilities are available at over 15 of the campground campsites, but there is also primitive camping allowed at several locations and a really cool floating primitive campsite. Picnic tables, barbecues, and lamp posts are just a few of the extras you’ll find here.

floating primitive campsite
A Cool Floating Primitive Campsite at Sea Rim

There are about 75 primitive campsites that do not require a reservation. The only other option is to use a boat to get to a floating campground, where you may set up your tent.

Fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and other water sports are all readily available. Paddling pathways are built out across the area so that visitors may get a genuine sense of what the region has to offer.

The Gambusia Nature Trail is also a great place for campers to take a walk. It is a unique boardwalk across the marshy regions that is located right adjacent to the beach.

Matagorda State Park

Matagorda Island
Matagorda Island Wildlife Area

At the mouth of the Colorado River on the Matagorda Peninsula, a 1600-acre park and preserve is known as Matagorda Bay. With miles of Gulf Coast, river frontage and acres of undeveloped dunes, the park provides a wide variety of habitats for visitors of all skill levels. It’s one of the top places in the country to go birdwatching.

Matagorda Bay, like the aforementioned Padre Islands, Sea Rim State Park, and Mustang Island, offers a wide range of beach activities and primitive camping areas. If you’re planning on stargazing while at the state park, be sure to look up from your tent at the end of the night.

A fire ring and a barbecue pit are provided at each campground. Access to the island’s Sunday Beach, a 39-mile expanse, is only possible by boat. Plan your trip around the ferry schedule, which operates from Thursday through Sunday.

The island’s natural beauty and isolation are unmatched. If you want to utilize Sunday Beach, you’ll need to carry your own food, water, and other necessities.

There is a public restroom and shower located near the dock on the island when there are scheduled activities. Hiking and biking are permitted on the island, but motorized vehicles are not. Be sure to see the park’s 1852 lighthouse, which is located at the northernmost point of the property.

Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park Dune Habitat

Galveston Island State Park is a terrific spot for a walk on the beach or a dip in the ocean, and it’s only an hour away from Houston. The state park’s bay and beach sides provide a variety of recreational opportunities for all types of campers.

Kayak and canoe rentals are available for visitors to the park’s three lovely paddling pathways. No license is required to fish from the shore at Galveston Island State Park.

Four kilometers of hiking and bike routes crisscross the island. They’re a terrific way to learn about the area’s diverse ecosystems. The Galveston Yacht Basin also offers boat rentals.

Make a point of visiting the observation platform if you’re interested in bird watching. You may see the storied sandhill cranes in the dead of winter.

There is a lot to see and do at the Bayside campsite. A grill, a shady shelter, a lantern pole, and a picnic table are standard amenities at most campsites. There are flush toilets and showers beside the site.

In all, the oceanfront of the campground has roughly 20 RV sites. Tent camping is only permitted at locations that are not directly on the beach.

The Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid is located next to the park. It’s a great place to see seahorses, sharks, and other creatures.

If you would rather go camping elsewhere, check out our post on the best dispersed camping spots near Telluride.

Preparation is the key to a successful beach vacation in Texas

The beaches of Texas provide a wide array of camping options. Nevertheless, the campsites in many of the places described above are rudimentary. In some places, amenities may be few. Many times, there are no service stations or other businesses nearby where you can replenish your supplies.

As a result, thinking ahead is always a good idea. Provide your own cooking utensils, utensils, and water. In addition, there are factors to consider. During the summer, the wind and temperature may both increase dramatically at the beach.

Make sure to pack bug repellant because the dunes are a popular place for insects to hide. Before you go swimming, check with the park’s main office or the rangers to see how the water is currently feeling. Depending on the tides and weather, certain campgrounds may not be open, so it’s always a good idea to phone your campground before you arrive.

Which Beach Camping Tents Are the Best?

Weather, comfort, and how many people you’re planning to bring all factor into the decision. If you simply need to host a small group of guests, the first option listed below is the most convenient.

  • Tents that inflate
  • If you have a lot of people, consider using modular tents.
  • Even if it is windy outside, an all-weather tent will suffice.
  • tents for all four seasons
  • Insect-proof shelters

Are you allowed to camp on the sands of Texas’ beaches?

Yes, you may lawfully camp on a number of Texas beaches. It is not uncommon to see families camping along the Sea Rim in Port Arthur, Mustang State Park and Padre Island National Seashore.

Where in Texas can you get a free campsite?

It’s possible to find free camping spots in Texas, but they’re few and far between. The following are some of the most popular locations where beach camping is permitted for free:

  • Flats in Bolivar, Colombia
  • The Haterius Park.
  • Park along the Jetty of Matagorda
  • Freeport
  • Mystic Shores

What do you think of me starting a bonfire on a Texas beach?

Some Texas beach campsites allow campers to create a fire directly in the sand. On the north end of the island are Padre Balli Park and Boca Chica and Mustang Island beaches.

If you want to start a fire, it’s best to consult with the park’s superintendent beforehand, as local burn rules specify when and under what conditions.


You can’t go wrong with beach camping in the Lone Star State when you prepare beforehand. In Texas, though, river camping is still an option if getting to the shore is too much of a nuisance but you still want to stay near water.

Check out our post on the best dispersed camping spots in Buena Vista as well.