South Padre Island’s beaches stretch 34 miles long, with windswept sand dunes and some of the best sand, sun, and shells on the Texas Gulf Coast. It has two main beaches that are divided into sections: city beach and county beach. The city beach stretches for about six miles along the coast before giving way to the county beach, which continues the rest of the way, ending in a full sand dune landscape on the island’s north end. The main distinction between the two beaches is that driving on the county beach is permitted, whereas driving on the city beach is prohibited.
The most important thing to know about beaches on South Padre Island is that they all have different public access points. Along Gulf Boulevard, there are 25 public access points to the city beach. Some are simple walking paths to the beach, while others have restrooms and bike racks and are near restaurants where you can stop for a bite to eat. Overall, there are numerous activities you can embark on at Padre Island National Sea Shore as a whole, but this article focuses on some of the beaches at South Padre Island. Here are some of our finds:
1. Isla Blanca Beach
Isla Blanca Beach has some of the best beach activities on the island. South Padre Island’s southernmost beach is one of the most beautiful. It’s a fun, spacious beach that’s great for surfing, biking, and kite flying. This beach has picnic pavilions, benches, ample parking, grills, restrooms, and showers. It is located at 33174 State Park Road 100, South Padre Island, Texas to be exact.
A wide boardwalk parallels the beach, so you can find your perfect spot or people-watch from above. Clayton’s Beach Grill is a food staple on the northern city beach. On the south end of the beach is a rock jetty where fishermen can watch the shipping channel. There’s an RV park next to Isla Blanca Beach for overnight camping. The Island Metro drops off at Isla Blanca Beach Park for a daily fee.
2. Edwin King Atwood County Park
The Edwin King Atwood County Park on South Padre Island’s north end is one of the best places to access the county beach. This section of the county beach is ideal for families who want to spend the entire day at the beach and have easy access to paved parking, shaded picnic areas, and restrooms.
E.K. Atwood Park is accessible via beach access #5 and the beach via the boardwalk. This beach has excellent Gulf swimming and plenty of space to set up umbrellas or a beach shade canopy. It’s also quite picturesque, with steep sand dunes on the beach’s edge. The beach park charges a daily fee, but it is open every day of the week. With a suitable vehicle, you can drive onto this section of the beach. It is located at 27159 Park Road 100, South Padre Island, Texas.
3. Andy Bowie County Park Beach
Andy Bowie County Park is one of the most convenient places to access the county beach on the north side of South Padre Island. The park has a day fee, but it has everything you need for the day, such as paved parking, restrooms, pavilions, and picnic areas. This beach is ideal for swimming in the waves, fishing, and relaxing on the sand. There are beach chair and umbrella rentals available, as well as nearby food concessions.
Andy Bowie Park and beach are direct across the street from the South Padre Island Convention Center, and there are numerous restaurants within walking distance. Those who want to camp can do so at the park’s RV sites. It is located at 7300 Park Road 100 N, South Padre Island, Texas.
The beach is also close to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, where you can spend more time outside by walking along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail and seeing some of the bird species that live there.
4. Thrive Beach
Thrive Beach is a beautiful beach on the north end of South Padre Island, near the end of Padre Boulevard Road. The road ends abruptly, but you can park on it and walk through the sand dunes to the beach. With a proper vehicle, you can also drive down to this beach from the oceanfront. It should be noted that this location is quite windy, and the sand dunes are quite deep.
This is a one-of-a-kind location and a great beach to visit if you’re looking for a little extra adventure. The scenery is beautiful, more peaceful, and less crowded compared to the main beach parks and access points. Swimming and shell hunting is popular, as large finds wash up on this stretch of beach.
Because there are no restrooms, food, or other amenities, this is a good option if you want to spend a few hours in a more tranquil and scenic beach setting. A nice spot for meditation and some quiet me time while basking in the sun for a perfect tan which of course are some of the benefits of going to the beach along with some other stress-relieving activities. It is recommended that you wear sunglasses because of the blowing sand and bring water and sunscreen.
5. UFO Beach
UFO Beach is one of the best beaches near South Padre Island for adventure and exercise. Locals believe a hurricane washed a wild-looking buoy ashore years ago. It’s become a destination for those who want to see an otherworldly-looking sand landmark covered in graffiti, toys, and other mementos.
This beach is great. North Padre Island’s remote north end has fewer beachgoers. These shells are large, diverse, and numerous. UFO Beach is only accessible by 4WD from the beachfront or on foot after a 3.5-mile trek from Padre Boulevard. This remote beach has no restrooms, so bring sunscreen, snacks, and water if you plan to walk the seven-mile round trip.
6. Neptune Circle (Access #16)
Public parking is available at the Neptune Circle city beach access, but there are not many other amenities. Because there are no restaurants in the area and there are no restrooms at this location, you will need to bring your own snacks with you. If you want to get in and out quickly and are only going to be there for a couple of hours, you should use this section of the beach.
Parking is more convenient here than at some of the other access points, which see significantly more foot traffic. From the parking area, there is a pedestrian bridge that leads down to the beach. Along Gulf Boulevard, this access point is conveniently located next to a butterfly garden, which is yet another of its many appealing characteristics.
7. Aquarius Circle (Access #18)
The Aquarius Circle public beach access number 18 provides all the essentials for getting to the beach in a hurry. The parking area is paved, and it leads directly to the beach walkover. This location provides showers, but there are no public restrooms available at this location. You can get lunch at the Wanna Wanna Grill, which is located on Gulf Boulevard close to the parking lot. The grill is within walking distance from where you are.
8. Good Hope Circle (Access #21)
Access to the city beach can be gained at point #21 via the Good Hope Circle. At the very northern end of Gulf Boulevard, there is a parking lot that has been paved over and it leads to the beach access walkover. At this access point, there are no public restrooms; however, there are showers available. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend at the beach, this section of the public beach offers all the same great swimming and other beach activities as the other parts of the beach, and it is conveniently located.