This past weekend, my girlfriend and I had an awesome time beach camping on Padre Island. It was a great experience and something we plan on doing often.
This was the first time I’ve ever camped right on the beach before. I’ve slept on the beach a few times in the past but never in a tent or on purpose. We literally setup camp right above the high tide line and slept under the stars.
It’s an amazing feeling waking up to the sound of the ocean. The only downside was the fact that the inside of our tent was like 100 degrees. But it was a small price to pay for hanging out on the beach.
Where Is Padre Island?
Padre island is located along the southern coast of Texas. It’s over 130 miles long and is the second largest island in terms of area in the US (Long Island is the largest). It’s also the largest barrier island in the world.
Click on the image to the right to see a map of island and a glimpse at how long it is. It runs down a good portion of the Texas coast.
I’ve heard of the island in the past, mostly South Padre which is the more developed section of the island located at the southern tip. It’s a popular place for spring breakers.
What I did not know is that the majority of the island is sparsely populated. However, I was a little surprised when we first got on the island and saw fast food restaurants, liquor stores, and gas stations.
How Do You Get There?
One of the things I was wondering was how to get to the island. I used to think a ferry or something went there but it turns out there are a few bridges that take visitors there. For the most part, it’s a regular looking highway you would expect to see anywhere else.
Here’s a quick clip of our drive over the bridge to the island:
It didn’t take very long to cross the bridge since the highway has a normal speed limit and a few lanes of traffic.
The island has a ton of places to camp which is awesome. I’m always disappointed when no camping signs are posted on beaches because it’s the perfect place to camp.
There is a free section of camping on North Beach, which is where we went first. There are no facilities but you are free to pitch a tent anywhere between the dunes and the water.
We ended up passing on this section since the beach was full of day visitors and there weren’t many places to setup camp. We ended up entering the actual park, which costs $10 for each vehicle. I believe it is more if you have an RV or camper but you’ll have to double check.
There is a campground available in the park for an additional 8 bucks but we tend to avoid them. There’s something about dispersed camping that makes it more fun. The good news is there is plenty of space to setup camp.
Here’s what you can expect to see when you get to the beach:
Just be warned that there will be a lot more vehicles there during the day so you might want to get there early. A lot of people come to the beach for the day and then leave once the sun goes down. Also, keep in mind that there is NO shade on the beach. If you’re going right now, it’s going to be HOT. So plan on bringing a tent or some sore of umbrella to hide under during the day.
The other thing is to check with the park rangers to see if there are any burn limits. Texas is in a drought right now so we weren’t able to have any fires this time.
Go Check It Out
If you’re ever in Texas, I highly recommend checking this place out. For far less than the cost of a hotel you can go sleep right on the beach and relax. It’s a great change of pace from staying in the city.
We plan on going back in two weeks or so since it’s only a 3 and a half hour drive from Austin.
You can check out the rest of my photos in my Padre Island photo album.