Compared to nights in Hawaii, or Fiji, or Thailand, people will probably never venture clear around the world to catch a glimpse of Texas beaches. Still, Texas beaches are close to home and unexpectedly nice. There’s nothing like a quick getaway to the beach to calm your nerves. As far as major beach resort areas in Texas go, you essentially have three choices: Galveston, Corpus Christi, or South Padre Island.
Galveston may not have, strictly speaking, the natural beauty found in the other two beach towns but it has a great historical background. However, if I were going to live on the Texas coast permanently Galveston is where I would do it. The city of Galveston itself is one among the oldest cities in Texas, holds the most charm of the three cities, and the island’s proximity to Houston makes the conveniences of urban life a mere hour away. The city of Galveston boasts a significant tourist infrastructure, including several great restaurants, beautiful historic shopping districts, scenic pedestrian walkways, and a trolley, that are all but abandoned by tourists six months out of the year, leaving the locals to take full advantage of them.
With over a quarter of a million inhabitants, Corpus Christi is by far the most populated of the three cities discussed, and the only one generally considered a metropolitan area in its own right. With that said, it always seems, for better or worse a little more isolated and less urban than Galveston. Unlike Galveston, Corpus Christi doesn’t have the fourth largest city in America on its doorstep. If Corpus Christi is too urban and too bustling to provide the quiet getaway you had in mind, try one of the sleepy little beach towns which lie outside of Corpus Christi.
There are two things you need to know about South Padre Island. The first is that it boasts the most beautiful beaches in Texas, bar none. The second is that it isn’t close to home. South Padre Island is 560 miles from Dallas. In less than 560 miles, Dallas residents can visit Jackson, Memphis, or Kansas City and they are all closer to home than South Padre Island. South Padre Island is 370 miles from Houston, 365 miles from Austin, and 290 miles from San Antonio. The vast majority of Texans live a long way from South Padre Island. Some people fly into Harlingen, rent a car, and drive the remaining 40 miles to South Padre, but it seems like a lot of Texans choose to drive the distance. Once you arrive on South Padre Island you will be welcomed by the warm community and also get a chance to see some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Also, while Galveston and Corpus Christi are cities in their own right (that just happen to be located on a beach), the town of South Padre Island, with a 2000 census count of 2,422 people, basically exists to support the local beach tourism. Still, the beaches are fantastic and it is a great place to visit if you want to feel like you’ve gotten away from it all (far, far, away from it all). It is also a good place to make a quick trip across the border from the Mexican towns of Matamoros and Nueva Progresso are just a hop, skip, and a jump away.