14 Best Beaches on South Padre Island, TX
Author Anietra Hamper and photographer Ian Henderson spent time visiting South Padre Island and its stunning beaches.
South Padre Island has 34 miles of some of the best beaches in Texas, with windswept sand dunes and some of the best sand, sun, and shells along the Texas Gulf Coast.
There are two main beaches on South Padre Island that are split into sections: the city beach and county beach. The city beach stretches for about six miles along the coast before turning into the county beach, which extends the rest of the way, ending in a full sand dune landscape on the north end of the island.
The main difference between the two beaches is that you can drive on the county beach, whereas driving on the city beach is prohibited. You can also access many of the beaches by staying at any of the beachfront resorts along the coastline.
The most important thing to know about beaches on South Padre Island is the public access points that all offer something different. The city beach has 25 public access points along Gulf Boulevard. Some are basic walking paths to the beach, some have restrooms and bike racks, and others are close to restaurants where you can step in for a bite to eat.
You can enjoy lots of small local eateries near the beaches around get around the island by car or golf cart, or take the free Island Metro that runs from the Convention Center to Isla Blanca beach.
As you pack your beach bag and plan your Texas Gulf Coast vacation, read our list of the top beaches and beach access points on South Padre Island to see what fits your beach mood.
- 1. Isla Blanca Beach
- 2. Edwin King Atwood County Park
- 3. Andy Bowie County Park Beach
- 4. Harbor Beach (Beach Access #1)
- 5. Sea Island Circle (Beach Access #5)
- 6. Thrive Beach
- 7. Treasure Island Circle (Beach Access #11)
- 8. Gulf Circle (Access #3)
- 9. UFO Beach
- 10. Neptune Circle (Access #16)
- 11. Gay Dawn Circle (Access #20)
- 12. Good Hope Circle (Access #21)
- 13. Aquarius Circle (Access #18)
- 14. Beach Circle (Access #4)
- Map of Beaches on South Padre Island, TX
- South Padre Island, TX - Climate Chart
1. Isla Blanca Beach
Highlights: Lots of beach space, picnic pavilions, public showers, pedestrian boardwalk, RV park, Island Metro stop
Isla Blanca Beach is one of the island's main beaches and where you will find some of the best beach activities on the island. It is one of the most beautiful sections of beach on South Padre Island, located on the south end. It is a fun and spacious beach that can accommodate every kind of activity, from surfing and biking to kite flying.
This beach also gets high marks for its comforts, like paved picnic pavilions, benches, ample parking, grills available for public use, restrooms, and showers.
There is a wide boardwalk that parallels the beach with access to the sand, so you can easily find your perfect spot or just people-watch from a higher elevation. Located on the northern part of the city beach is Clayton's Beach Grill, which is a beachfront staple for food.
On the south end of the beach is a rock jetty, where you will find fishermen, and you can watch the boats coming in and out of the shipping channel.
If you want to enjoy Isla Blanca Beach for more than a day, there is an RV park next to the beach for camping. There is a day fee to use the beach, and the Island Metro has a drop-off at the entrance to Isla Blanca Beach Park which is another great way to cool off and one of the top things to do on South Padre Island.
Address: 33174 State Park Road 100, South Padre Island, Texas
2. Edwin King Atwood County Park
Highlights: Family-friendly, easy access to the beach, public parking, picnic pavilion, boardwalk
The Edwin King Atwood County Park on the north end is one of the best places to access the county beach on South Padre Island. This section of county beach is nice, especially for families that want to spend a full beach day and have quick access to paved parking, shaded picnic areas, and restrooms.
You can get to E.K. Atwood Park from beach access #5 and get to the beach from the boardwalk. This beach has great swimming in the Gulf and plenty of room to set up umbrellas or a beach shade canopy. It is quite scenic also, with steep sand dunes on the edge of the beach.
The beach park requires a day fee, but the beach is available every day of the week. You can drive onto this section of beach with a suitable vehicle.
Address: 27159 Park Road 100, South Padre Island, Texas
3. Andy Bowie County Park Beach
Highlights: Perfect swimming beach, public access via the park entrance, concessions, fishing, beach chair rentals
If you want to enjoy the county beach on the north side of South Padre Island, one of the most comfortable access points is Andy Bowie County Park. There is a day-use fee to access the park, but you will find everything you need for the day, like paved parking, restrooms, pavilions, and picnic areas.
This is a good beach for swimming in the waves, fishing, and relaxing in the sand. Beach chair and umbrella rentals are available, and food concessions are located nearby. The Andy Bowie Park and beach are located directly across from the South Padre Island Convention Center with many restaurants within walking distance. There are RV sites at the park for those who plan to camp.
The beach is also close to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, where you can enjoy more of the outdoors by walking along the Laguna Madre Nature Trail to see some of the bird species that inhabit the area.
Address: 7300 Park Road 100 N, South Padre Island, Texas
4. Harbor Beach (Beach Access #1)
Highlight: First public access point for the South Padre Island public beach
If you do not want to use the beach parks, the Harbor Beach access point is a good place to start your South Padre Island Beach experience. This is the first access point for the public beach, located along Gulf Boulevard.
Access point one is a convenient spot because there is a paved parking lot with a foot access path to the beach. There is a bike rack for securing bicycles and a short walkway to the sand. This access point is located next to Rocotto Grill, where you can stop in for lunch or a snack.
5. Sea Island Circle (Beach Access #5)
Highlight: The beach is within walking distance of cafes for a bite to eat
The Sea Island Circle public beach access point #5 is located off Gulf Boulevard. This is a basic access point with a walking path to the beach, but it has portable restrooms, whereas some other access points do not.
You will want to pack what you need for the day and take it with you, as there are no restaurants close to this spot. There are a few cafés within walking distance on Gulf Boulevard.
6. Thrive Beach
Highlights: The last beach stop and a picturesque stretch of sand at the far end of Padre Boulevard Road
Thrive Beach is a stunning beach located on the north end of South Padre Island at the very end of Padre Boulevard Road. The road completely ends, but you can park on the road and walk through the sand dunes to the beach. You can also drive down to this beach from the oceanfront with a proper vehicle. Be advised that it is quite windy in this location, and the sand dunes are deep.
This is quite a unique space and a great beach to access if you are looking for a little bit of added adventure. The landscape is picturesque. This is a more peaceful and less crowded beach than the main beach parks and access points. Swimming is popular and so is shell hunting, as large finds wash up on this section of beach.
There are no restrooms, food, or other amenities, so this is a good option if you just want to spend a few hours in a more tranquil and scenic beach setting. Due to the blowing sand, it is advised that you wear sunglasses and take water and sunscreen with you.
7. Treasure Island Circle (Beach Access #11)
Highlight: One of the easiest public access points for the South Padre Island city beach
Treasure Island Circle is one of the best public beach access points to the South Padre Island city beach. Access point #11 has a paved parking lot and small shade pavilion.
The beach access walkway is just steps from the sand, so this is a nice spot for morning beach walks. This access point has public bathrooms, a water fountain, and beach showers. The Palms Café is nearby, so you can grab a bite to eat after your day at the beach or use the picnic tables.
8. Gulf Circle (Access #3)
Highlights: Free beach access point, parking, public showers, restrooms
The Gulf Circle beach access has several conveniences for public use. It is public access point #3 off Gulf Boulevard. This free beach access point is nice because it has paved parking and a sidewalk to the beach, so you can haul a beach cart or canopies easily to the oceanfront. This location has restrooms and beach showers to rinse off after a day in the sand.
9. UFO Beach
Highlight: The walk to find the unique washed-up buoy that gave the beach its name.
One of the most unique and fun beaches near South Padre Island is UFO Beach, and it's advised for those looking for a little adventure and exercise along with their day in the sand.
The benchmark for arrival is a wild-looking buoy that locals believe washed ashore after a hurricane many years ago. Over time it has become a destination for those who want to see an otherworldly-looking landmark in the sand that has been adorned over the years with graffiti, toys, and other mementos from visitors.
The beach here is also fantastic. Since this is a remote area on the north end of South Padre Island, there are fewer beachgoers. The shells that wash up on this section are remarkable in size, variety, and numbers.
UFO Beach can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles from the beachfront or on foot with a 3.5-mile trek from the dead end of Padre Boulevard. This is a remote beach with no restrooms, so you will want to take everything you need with you, like sunscreen, snacks, and water, especially if you plan to walk the seven-mile round trip and spend some time on the beach.
10. Neptune Circle (Access #16)
Highlight: A remote stretch of beach nice for finding large shells
Neptune Circle city beach access has public parking but not many other amenities. There are no restrooms in this location, and there are no restaurants nearby, so you will want to pack snacks. This is a good section of beach to use if you just want quick access and only plan to spend a few hours.
It has easier parking than some of the other more populated access points. There is a walkover to the beach from the parking area. Another nice feature about this access point is that it sits next to a butterfly garden along Gulf Boulevard.
11. Gay Dawn Circle (Access #20)
Highlights: A nice beach for building sandcastles and finding shells
The Gay Dawn Circle public access point #20 is located at the far end of the city beach. This is a good access point if you want to walk from the city beach sands to the county beach sands along the oceanfront. This area has paved public parking that leads to a beach walkover and sidewalk. There are showers at this access point but no restrooms or nearby restaurants.
12. Good Hope Circle (Access #21)
Highlights: Easy public access and paved parking
The Good Hope Circle is access point #21 to the city beach. There is a paved parking lot that leads to the beach access walkover on the northern end of Gulf Boulevard. This access point does not have public restrooms, but showers are available. It has all the great swimming and beach activities as other sections of the public beach, and it is a quick access spot if you only plan to spend a short time at the beach.
13. Aquarius Circle (Access #18)
Highlights: Public beach access walkover, paved parking, close to beach dining
The Aquarius Circle public beach access #18 has the basics for quick access to the beach. There is paved parking that leads to the beach walkover. Showers are available at this location, but there are no public restrooms. You are within walking distance of the Wanna Wanna Grill, located near the parking lot on Gulf Boulevard, where you can grab lunch.
14. Beach Circle (Access #4)
Highlights: Small public beach with beachfront access to several other public beaches.
Beach Circle is public access point #4 off Gulf Boulevard. There is a small, paved parking lot leading to a beach walkover and sidewalk. If you stay near this access point on the beachside, you should be aware that there are no restrooms at this location. There are some public restrooms located just a short walk south at access point #3.
Map of Beaches on South Padre Island, TX
South Padre Island, TX - Climate Chart
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for South Padre Island, TX in °C|
|19 11||21 13||24 17||26 19||29 23||31 25||32 25||32 25||31 24||28 21||24 17||21 12|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for South Padre Island, TX in mm.|
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for South Padre Island, TX in °F|
|67 52||70 55||75 62||79 67||84 73||88 77||89 77||89 77||87 75||83 70||76 63||69 54|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for South Padre Island, TX in inches.|
The best times to visit South Padre Island for sand and sun are during the months of September, October, and November when air and water temperatures are still high, but the weather is a bit more comfortable for spending long days in the sun. It gets hot in this popular south Texas vacation spot, so no matter when you, go it is important to stay hydrated and pack plenty of sunscreen.
The month of September has average daytime highs in the 80s. It is also the rainiest month, so while water temperatures are perfect for swimming, you will want to have some backup plans. The months of October and November have temperatures ranging in the high-70s to mid-80s. These are comfortable weather conditions for beachcombing, flying kites, and relaxing in or near the water, and crowds are lighter before the snowbird vacationers arrive.
The next best months for weather on South Padre Island are March, April, and May, which are also the busiest for spring breakers that migrate down to the beaches. The average temperatures for the spring months range from the mid-60s to mid-80s and the water temperatures are warm enough for swimming. May is particularly nice because most spring breakers have left the island and the hurricane season has not yet started.
December, January, and February are nice months if you want warm temperatures and a beach scene, but do not plan to swim. While average daytime temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, the water can be chilly this time of year. June, July, and August are hot, with average temperatures hovering in the 90s, and these are the months with the greatest risk for hurricanes.