Though we’re not the beach connoisseurs that some of our friends are, we like our beaches. Each one has a different personality, and a different set of strengths. In Scituate, Ma, we like the waves on the rocks and the excellent photography and wildlife. Florida and Mexico beaches offer the brilliant blue waters and the perfect climate. In Texas, the beaches range from wild and uninhabited (on North Padre Island) to extremely developed (South Padre Island), with lots of different options in between. Our family likes them all, but we will always have a special place in our hearts for Mustang Island. The development is tasteful and subdued because of the sand dunes along the shore, and there’s plenty of beach life.
There’s a sand road down the middle of our public beach, a wide expanse of powdery sand, and the Gulf waves that lap at your feet as you stroll. A barrier of dunes (they are protected) separate most of the major condos and beach houses from the beach, and that usually means you’ll walk a little further to get wet. But you won’t be staring up at a long row of thirty story high rises, either. We like it that way.
The Port Aransas beaches on Mustang Island are the Port Aransas Beach that runs most of the length of the island (with lifeguards from Avenue G to Sandcastle) and the IB Magee Beach Park, next to the South Jetty. PA beach covers just under six and a half miles. This stretch has a sand road that runs the length of the beach for good access, so it’s fairly easy to bring in your heavier gear, though you will need a $12 beach parking pass.
We prefer to walk.
Working from the ocean across the beach, you have the ocean with a couple of sand bars that you can wade to, a shallow climb out onto the beach, a wide expanse of sand, trash cans every ten yards or so flanked by a sand parking area, a sand road that runs the length of the beach, protected sand dunes that are striped with occasional access roads or board walks, and then properties that range from single story homes to ten story condos. The point is that all of the buildings are set back fairly far from the beach.
The water is warm in the Summer, and comfortable earlier and later in the season than what you’d find on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. The waters are also calm. The surf is variable, of course, but it’s generally pretty good. It’s a great place to boogie board, or when conditions are right, you can find decent surfing near the pier compared to the rest of the Texas gulf coast, though you’re not going to find the 20 foot monsters that you will on Hawaii’s North Shore. South Padre waves are generally a little better than these.
The sand is powdery and fine, easy on the feet (though hot in the summer–wear beach shoes) and great for the kids, and irritating as anything for campers on a windy night. If you don’t want to take it home with you, it pays to find a rental that will let you walk to the beach most of the time.
If you like sand castles, and I mean really like sand castles, this is the kind of sand you want. It’s fine and the shallow gradient means you can easily dig down to the water table to get to the wet stuff that holds together. There’s a sand castle competition held every year called the Texas SandFest, and this is where the big boys come out to play. You would not believe some of the winners. This year, it was April 9-11, and should be around the next time next year. You probably won’t be able to park on the beach. We’re talking walkers only, with you and 100,000 of your closest friends. If you want to go, book early.
The beaches are expansive. They will give you room to spread out and fly a kite, play some pick up sports, or set up your own umbrella or shade pavilion. Beach soccer is fantastic there, and you’ll usually see a volleyball game there. The sand is so soft that it is tough to run in, though. We like to drive to the beach and set up early, and take a break during the hottest times of the day to return in the evening.
Here’s a map with the location to the beach house. You can see the board walk, and the stretch of beach that we are on. Scroll down to the southeast corner (lower right) to see the boardwalk, and you can view the house from the beach view. It’s a great little area. With the windows open, you can hear the waves on the beach.