Technically, no, there is no free camping on Texas beaches. However, those who are seeking to get back to nature and do it on the slimmest of budgets are in luck. Texas’s great beaches of Padre Island beckon with both U.S. National Parks and Texas State Parks offering free camping, fishing, swimming and other activities. There are small entrance fees, but as little as $4 buys you two weeks of access to some of the nation’s best beaches.
Padre Island National Seashore Camping
The Padre Island National Seashore offers a number of camping options. Again, the camping is “free” but the entrance fee of $8 for up to 14 days applies.
The park contains five different “official” camping sites. These include Malaquite Campground, Bird Island Basin, North beach, South Beach and Yarborough Pass.
The Cheapest Deals on Texas Beaches
Padre Island National Seashore offers the least expensive camping in South Beach and Yarborough Beach. The sites are unimproved, and you simply pitch a tent among the dunes. There is a change to enter the U.S. Park, but after the $8 fee ($4 for Seniors or Golden Pass Holders) the sites here are free.
If you are not used to primitive camping, be prepared. A fabulous view of sand and stars (sometimes, with no one for miles) awaits. However, the hike to the water reserves near the site can become long, drawn-out affairs.
State Park Options
Mustang Island and Goose Island State Parks offer camping with some better comforts, such as electricity and water, but all State Parks charge the $8 fee. However, they also offer long stretches of sand and surf with very few neighbors.
In Texas State Parks, anglers will find a bargain rate–free. In an ongoing effort to increase public interest in fishing, no fishing permits are required for the island parks.