“I must go down to the seas again,” wrote Masefield, whose preference for “the lonely sea and the sky” is ample proof that the poet never set foot on a Texas beach. There are lonely spots along our 367-mile coastline, of course, but it’s the scrum of humanity that’s been the chief draw for generations of beach-going types, from Spring Breakers on Padre to birders on Bolivar. 

Sure you live within an hour of the beach, God-willing and as the crow flies. But how much do you really know about that 367-mile strip of sand and hurricane bait that is the Texas coastline? We’re willing to bet it’s a lot less than you think, especially after embarking on our own voyages to Galveston, Padre Island, Bolivar, Rockport, and more.

We found surprises around every dune, from relics restored to glittering new attractions. And as we went, we gathered expert tips on everything from the best beach umbrellas, the smartest way to build a sandcastle, how to treat a jellyfish sting, the prime places to fish, the top spots to eat someone else’s fish, and much, much more.

In This Feature:

The Gulf Coast's 6 Most Alluring Spots for Pier Fishing

Including three prime piers in Galveston, top dolphin-spotting, and where to go shark-fishing.

06/14/2017 By Catherine Matusow

The Local's Guide to Galveston Island

Where to find the least-touristy beaches, cheapest beachfront views, and the Gulf Coast-iest gumbo.

06/14/2017 By Peter Holley

South Padre Island Is the Perfect Family Getaway—11 Months of the Year

Padre’s waters are the closest to blue in all of Texas, its sands closest to white.

06/14/2017 By John Lomax

Port Aransas: The Classic Seaside Town That Takes All Comers

And with more hotel rooms than residents, there’s something for every budget in this quirky coastal village.

06/14/2017 By Michael Hardy

The Eccentric Appeal of Bolivar Peninsula

Along this spit of sand, everyone drives on the beaches—even environmentalists on their way to the shorebird sanctuary.

07/01/2013 By Robb Walsh

Rockport: The Rare Beach Town That Occasionally Dresses for Dinner

Get to know the creative coastal community which once claimed to have more artists per capita than Paris.

06/14/2017 By Michael Hardy

Beach Umbrellas: A Primer

A good umbrella can be hard to find. We went though that pain so you don't have to.

06/14/2017 By Jeff Balke

Danger Averted!

Stingrays, sargassum, and riptides, oh my! We have solutions to the most common hazards of a day at the beach.

07/05/2013 By John Lomax

Ask Dr. Beach

Put on your hat and sunscreen: it's time for Beachcombing 101.

07/01/2013 Photography by Peter Holley