Looking for the best islands in Texas to visit this summer?
The Texas Gulf Coast is home to some of the best island getaway destinations in the state.
Galveston Island is popular for its 32 miles of beaches, historic downtown, and abundance of restaurants and shops.
South Padre Island is known for its clear waters, sandy beaches, and year-round warm weather.
Padre Island National Seashore is also worth a visit for its nature trails and wildlife spotting opportunities.
No matter what type of island vacation you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Also Read: Best beaches in Texas to visit this summer
Geology of Texas barrier islands
The Texas barrier islands are a chain of coastal islands that stretch along the Gulf of Mexico from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the city of Galveston.
These islands serve an important role in protecting the Texas coastline from storm surges and waves.
The island chain is also home to a variety of plant and animal species, as well as several state and national parks.
Best Islands in Texas to visit this summer
Many great islands in Texas offer a variety of activities and attractions for visitors.
Here are our favorite Texas islands to visit this summer.
Galveston Island – #1 Island of Texas
Galveston Island is the northmost barrier island on the Texas Gulf Coast.
It is about 27 miles long and no more than 3 miles wide at its widest point.
Popular Galveston Island Attractions
Galveston Island is home to several popular attractions and is a popular beach getaway from Houston.
The city of Galveston is a popular tourist destination located off the coast of Texas.
The beach town offers a wide range of activities for visitors, from swimming and sunbathing on the Galveston beaches to exploring the historic downtown area.
Galveston is also home to several museums including the Texas Seaport Museum, which tells the story of the state’s maritime history.
Other popular attractions in Galveston include Pleasure Pier, Moody Gardens, and the Historic Strand District.
Galveston Island State Park
Galveston Island State Park is located on the west end of Galveston Island.
The park offers a variety of activities for visitors, including swimming, fishing, bird watching, and hiking.
Pelican Island is a small island located near Galveston, Texas.
The Island is home to Galveston Naval Museum and Seawolf Park.
The island is also popular for fishing.
While not technically an island, Bolivar Peninsula is a narrow strip of land located northeast of Galveston.
It can be reached via ferry from Galveston and hence, feels more like an island.
Popular Bolivar Peninsula Attractions
The peninsula is home to several small towns, including Crystal Beach, Port Bolivar, and High Island.
Bolivar Peninsula is known for its crystal clear waters, sandy beaches, and fishing opportunities.
Crystal Beach is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing.
It is also one of our favorite beach camping spots in Texas.
Point Bolivar Lighthouse
The Point Bolivar Lighthouse is located on the northern tip of the Bolivar Peninsula.
The lighthouse offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico and is a popular spot for photography.
Follett’s Island is a barrier island located south of Galveston Island.
It is 13 miles long and is very close to Houston metro area.
Popular Follett’s Island Attractions
The island is home to many beaches and beach towns.
Looking for beach getaway near Houston?
Surfside Beach is a small town located on Follett’s Island.
The town is known for its fishing pier, surfside jetty, and sandy beaches.
Visitors to Surfside Beach can also enjoy its restaurants and shops.
Also Read: Things to do near Freeport, Texas
The Bluewater Highway is a scenic drive that runs along the length of Follett’s Island.
The highway offers stunning views of the gulf and is a popular spot for photography.
Follett’s Beach is located north of Surfside beach.
The beach is known for its crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.
It is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, free camping, and beachcombing.
Matagorda Island is a long, thin barrier island located in the Gulf of Mexico.
The island is 38 miles long and less than 3 miles wide.
It can be reached only via ferry from Port O’Connor, Texas.
Tip – The state ferry is currently not operational; access is via private boat or private charters only.
Popular Matagorda Island Attractions
The entire uninhabited island is preserved as a wildlife oasis.
It is a hit with nature lovers and birders.
Matagorda Island State Park
The Matagorda Island State Park is located on the northern end of the island and is accessible only by private boat.
The park offers camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming, and bird watching opportunities.
The island is home to a variety of plant and animal life, including alligators, turtles, snakes, egrets, herons, and ibis.
Visitors to the island can also visit the abandoned Matagorda Island lighthouse.
Matagorda Island State Park provides a unique opportunity to experience the unspoiled Texas coast.
Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area
Also known as Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge and State Natural Area, this covers the southern end of the island.
It is a unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, located near Rockport.
San Jose Island
San Jose Island is a small barrier island in the Lone Star State.
The island is private and only the beach is accessible by ferry from Port Aransas.
The private island is a popular spot for beachcombing, fishing, swimming, and sunbathing.
Goose Island State Park
Goose Island State Park is located on Goose Island near Rockport.
It is actually a peninsula, not an island.
The park offers camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming, bird watching, and kayaking opportunities.
The park is also home to the Big Tree, a thousand-year-old live oak tree that is the largest of its kind in Texas.
Mustang Island is a Barrier Island located off the coast of South Texas.
The island is home to an abundance of wildlife, as well as several state parks and protected areas.
Popular Mustang Island Attractions
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a party place, Mustang Island has it all!
Whether you are looking for a spring break destination of a family vacation, Port Aransas is one of the best beach towns in Texas.
The town is located on Mustang Island and offers a variety of museums, shops, restaurants, bars, and activities for visitors.
Port Aransas Beach is the perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy the waves.
The beach is also a great spot for fishing, swimming, surfing, and windsurfing.
In fact, Port A is known as the fishing capital of Texas.
Mustang Island State Park
Mustang Island State Park is one of the best state parks to visit in Texas.
The Mustang Island State Park offers visitors miles of beaches, hiking trails, and unique opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including dolphins, turtles, and bird colonies.
The island is also a popular destination for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and fishing.
Padre Island is, without a doubt, the most famous island in Texas.
It is the largest barrier island in the world and is a whopping 113 miles long!
Popular Padre Island Attractions
The island is home to some of the largest beach cities and resort towns in Texas as well as several NPS sites.
The city of Corpus Christi, located on the northernmost end of North Padre Island, is one of the best places to visit in Texas.
The city has a wide range of attractions, including museums, parks, and historical sites.
Our favorites are the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay.
Corpus Christi is also home to many beautiful beaches, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and fishing.
In addition, the city offers a variety of restaurants and shops, making it an ideal place to spend a few days exploring.
Ward Island is a part of Corpus Christi and home to Texas A&M University.
The island also has a hike and bike trail that is popular with nature lovers.
Padre Island National Seashore
Padre Island National Seashore is one of the best national parks in Texas.
It is a great place to visit for its unspoiled beaches, wildlife, and history.
The seashore stretches over 70 miles, making it the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world.
Visitors can enjoy activities such as fishing, swimming, bird watching, and camping.
The island is also home to the largest colony of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and provides critical habitat for other endangered species.
South Padre Island – Party Island of Texas
At the southern end of Padre Island, you will find the Party Capital of Texas!
It has the distinction of being the only tropical island in Texas.
The resort town offers miles of sandy beaches, ample opportunities for fishing and water sports, and a variety of shops and restaurants.
Visitors can sunbathe on the beach, go snorkeling or scuba diving, fish from the pier, or take a dolphin watch tour.
For those who want to experience a little culture, South Padre Island also boasts many art galleries, museums, and live music venues.
Also Read: Best Things to do in Port Isabel, Texas
Brazos Island is the southernmost of the Texas barrier islands.
It is home to the rarely visited Brazos Island State Scenic Park.
The island is also a popular destination for birding and fishing.
Beachcombing is a popular pastime on the island, as there is an abundance of shells to be found.
Importance of Texas islands
The Texas barrier island system is one of the most biodiverse areas in North America.
The islands are home to several species of birds, as well as sea turtle species, alligators, and fish.
The vegetation on the islands is also incredibly diverse, with species ranging from live oak trees to cactus.
In addition to their ecological importance, the islands are also popular tourist destinations, with visitors coming to enjoy the beaches, fishing, and bird watching.
Which is your favorite island in Texas to visit for a beach vacation?
Let us know in the comments.