Where can you camp on the beach in Texas? It sounds like a strange question since Texas might not stand out when you’re considering beach camping. Instead, you might think of cowboy boots, wide-open spaces, live music in Austin, NASA, or even the snarled congestion of Houston’s highways.
But with over 300 miles of coastline, more people should associate Texas with incredible beaches. And if you haven’t yet, you should try beach camping there. In this article, we’ll share some of the best places to park your RV or pitch a tent right on the coast.
Where Can You Camp on the Beach in Texas?
With Texas being one of five states that make up the Gulf Coast region, there are many places where you can camp on the beach there. Whatever your camping style–tent camping, RVing, boondocking, resort camping, etc.– you’ll find a beach haven you won’t forget.
Beach camping sites are abundant, from the Louisiana and Texas border at Sea Rim State Park to Brazos Island State Park near the Mexico border. You just have to pick one that fits your style.
Why Beach Camping in Texas Is Awesome
You get to choose what your experience will be. The beaches are stunning, there are many options, and you can often go for free. That’s precisely why beach camping in Texas is awesome!
Will your experience be about the views? Or about the action? How about the nearby towns or nightlife? Do you want the serenity of the waves as your only neighbor or actual people? It’s all up to you and your dedication to finding your beach sanctuary.
Texas Beach Camping: Boondocking vs. Developed Campgrounds
When looking for a beachfront sanctuary, you need to define the kind of camping you want. Do you enjoy the amenities of a developed campground? Or would you rather camp as close to the water as you can get?
If you want to be as close as you can, boondocking is your best choice. You can find plenty of boondocking sites at Texas beaches that are literally on the sand. If boondocking on the sand, be aware of where others camp. They’ll probably be parked higher on the sand to avoid high tide and getting stuck.
Additionally, many beaches prohibit you from parking too near the water. Ultimately, pay attention to the water lines on the sand and follow any signs or guidelines.
It’s important to note that many people love camping on the beach in Texas, but the popularity has caused problems with keeping the land clean and protected. Some boondocking spots have closed or limited their numbers.
So please follow the posted rules for where to camp and how long to stay there. If there are no trash receptacles or they’re full, pack out your trash and pick up other pieces that you see on the ground. The more we respect these beautiful beaches, the longer they’ll be around for us to enjoy.
If you’re more of a campground or RV park camper, there are plenty of options for you as well. You’ll want to base your choices on the amenities you seek, your proximity to the beach, and what you’re willing to pay.
Once you’ve made your decision about boondocking or campground camping, your hardest decision will be which beach to choose. But don’t worry–every Texas beach has wonders to explore and places to experience, so there’s no wrong choice!
Best Beach Camping in Texas
There are phenomenal campsites all along the Texas Gulf Coast, from the world-famous Padre Island to Houston’s favorite Matagorda Bay Beach Camping. You’ll find warm waters, seashells galore, delectable seafood, and exciting ocean excursions.
Here are six of the best beach camping places in Texas to get you started with your beach fun.
Padre Island is a national seashore, so there may be a park entrance fee. With five campgrounds here, you can choose between developed or primitive sites. Because of its location, all camping provides easy access to the beach with stunning views.
If you want to camp right on the sand, check out South Beach, North Beach, or Yarborough Pass primitive camping sites. There’s no charge for camping at any of these three sites; however, you need to register when staying here.
South Beach has 60 miles of free camping available to those with 4WD vehicles. Yarborough Pass is meant for 4WD vehicles. If your car doesn’t have 4WD, you can camp within the first five miles. Most rigs can access North Beach, which has a mile of beach access before it’s closed to vehicles.
Bird Island Basin Campground is $8.00/night for dry camping and offers chemical toilets. The area is also famous for windsurfing.
Additionally, you could try Malaquite Campground, which is tucked away in the dunes with incredible Gulf views. Tent campers can set up on the beach or at a designated site for $14.00/night. There are flush toilets, cold water rinse showers, and paved parking.
While there are no hookups on Padre Island campgrounds, there’s a water fill station and RV dump site just outside of Malaquite Campground. The nearest town with additional amenities is about 12 miles from the park entrance. So come prepared with everything you need–when you get here, you won’t want to leave until you have to!
Just north of Padre Island is Mustang Island. There are several options for beach camping here, including a campground with electrical hookups. If you’re staying at Mustang Island State Park, there are two camping options, both with fees.
One offers 48 sites with electricity. They’re only 400 yards from the water, but the dunes stand between you and the ocean. Here, you’ll also have water hookups and access to restrooms and showers. For $20.00/night, you’ve got all the conveniences and excellent ocean access.
The other state park campground is primitive camping along a 1.5-mile stretch of beach. You’ll find cold water showers and drinking water here, along with a full beach bathhouse at the nearby park headquarters. You can let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep for just $10.00/night.
You could also boondock just north of the state park. Most rigs can park directly on the beach; however, the weather can quickly change the availability here, so be aware of changing tides and inaccessible locations.
Located just south of the Louisiana/Texas border, McFaddin Beach is next to the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge and Sea Rim State Park. You get to dry camp directly on this Texas beach for free, listening to the waves just outside your door. It’s a lengthy drive to the camping spots, but most vehicles can access the hard-packed sand.
If you’d like a bit more beach to wander on and a few more amenities, there are a few beach campgrounds nearby at Sea Rim State Park. West and East Beach primitive camping sites offer many choices for only $10.00/night.
Piping Plover Campground is another choice just off the beach with easy access from the dune boardwalk. Here, you’ll find electrical and water hookups for $20.00/night. That’s nothing compared to the 4,000 acres of marshlands you can explore within this fabulous state park.
Matagorda Bay lies between Galveston and Corpus Christi, with about 60 miles of beach. Just over 20 of those miles are open to vehicles, but you can reach the remainder by boat, kayak, or other watercraft.
You can camp anywhere on the beaches here, including nearby Jetty Park, for up to 72 hours. Tents and RVs are allowed if you avoid the soft sand. While there are no camping fees, if you’re driving on Matagorda’s beaches, you’ll need an annual $10 Matagorda County Beach Vehicle Permit. You can buy it at most local merchants or at the beach entrance during the summer.
There are bathrooms, outdoor showers, and covered picnic tables, as well as walking piers.
Matagorda Bay area also offers various free camping spots along with campgrounds and RV parks. One of the most popular areas for beach camping in Texas is Magnolia Beach, which is also on Matagorda Bay. With 1.5 miles of hard-packed sand and not much tide, it’s perfect for RV or tent camping.
There are bathrooms, cold showers, and trash receptacles. Free beach camping with some amenities? Count us in!
Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula has RV parks to match any style of RV camping, from luxurious to basic. And almost any RV park has easy access to water on both sides of the peninsula. But if you want Texas beach camping right on the sand, you have options as well.
With 27 miles of beach for camping, you’ll have “beachfront property” in no time flat on the Bolivar Peninsula. The only cost is a $10 parking permit, which you can purchase at most local businesses.
You’ll find rinse-off showers and restrooms along with several port-a-potties at the Bolivar Beach Pavilion on Crystal Beach. Close to shopping and dining, it’s ideal for those who like camping near civilization. Beware–this is among the most popular beach camping sites in Texas, so keep that in mind when looking for a spot!
Only an hour from Houston, camping on Galveston Beach is a quick island getaway from the big city. While there’s limited–if any–free camping on Galveston beaches, there are plenty of places to play and enjoy an overnight camping trip within Galveston Island State Park and RV parks.
Within the state park, there are two bayside location campgrounds. One with electrical hookups for $20.00/night and the other with water only for $15.00. You’ll have full amenities on a beautiful beach close to Galveston–what’s not to love?
Which Opportunity Speaks to You?
Whatever beach camping lifestyle you choose on the Gulf Coast of Texas, your stay here could be magical. With miles of beaches to explore, wildlife to view, water activities to enjoy, food to be savored, and none of it to be forgotten, beach camping in Texas may be the easiest decision you make this year. Which camping opportunity speaks to you?
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Tuesday 27th of April 2021
I love going to Padre Island National Seashore to camp even though it is about an 8 hour drive from North Texas. During Spring Break 2021 I camped at Bird Island Basin Campground and there was almost no one there. I could kayak in the Laguna Madre (Basin) when I wanted by walking several steps from my door and putting in. Since I was boondocking, I drove about 5 miles to Malaquite Campground and used the cold rinse showers instead of the on-board trailer water and filling up my gray tank.
If you have a National Parks Card, there are even discounts. I spent $20 for 5 nights. The senior/disability card takes 1/2 off the camping price. There is no entrance fees with the cards either. These cards are more than worth it since they also support the National Parks.
Mortons on the Move
Wednesday 28th of April 2021
Thank you for sharing this great information!