Free Camping on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Camping directly on the beach has been one of our bucket list items since we began full time RV living. We quickly learned (thanks to Campendium & Free Campsites) that the Texas coast is the place to do it!

Earlier this week we set up camp on Padre Island and the experience has been amazing. Just be sure to have an outdoor mat, broom, or handheld vacuum to keep the sand out of your rig!

Watch the video:

Here’s the breakdown:

Location: Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

GPS27.4774, -97.2742

Date/Temp: We pulled into Padre Island during late February – highs were in the mid 80s and lows were in the 50s. It’s important to know when high tide is everyday; this information is located at the park entrance less than a mile away. Camping on the beach demands flexibility and awareness, being prepared to relocate is necessary. There is a 14 day stay limit at this location.

Amenities: The site we camped at is considered North Beach. At the access road there is a large dumpster. If you drive into the park a few miles, you can dump & fill up water at the entrance of Malequite Campground. There are also free showers at the park headquarters (about 4 miles away).

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Wifi/Cell: Cellular Internet connection was fickle during our stay. With our booster we received T-Mobile & AT&T 80% of the time. There was one day when we couldn’t connect at all. However, when connected, we had 4G speeds fast enough to stream.

Noise: It is noisy here, but not because of people. The wind & waves are an ever-present background noise. This was mostly pleasant, but sometimes unnerving. 

Grocery/Errands: Corpus Christi is located about 16 miles away. It’s not a drive we wanted to do each day, but the town does have every type of shopping needed. In fact, it’s the 8th largest city in Texas. This made running errands slightly time consuming, but easy.

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Dog Friendly: The beach is very dog friendly if your pup loves the water. The information kiosk has a sign the states “dogs must be kept on a leash”. This wasn’t followed by all, but it was never an issue for us.

Entertainment: The main source of entertainment here is the beach. We enjoyed soaking up the rays and listening to music, but we saw people fishing & riding ATVs as well. There are plenty of dinning options in town if you want a break from the sun.

UPDATE: We’ve begun work on a new music project! In April we’ll enter the recording studio to capture an album inspired by life on the road. If you’ve found our blogs informative or inspirational, please give this a look. We need your help to complete the album.

LINK: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1231395569/drivin-and-vibin-songs-from-the-road-full-length-a?ref=er04tp

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14 thoughts on “Free Camping on Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

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    1. Venture down to South Padre Island. (2 1/2 hours further south) Shopping is very close and Port Isabel is very cute and fun. Port Isabel and all little towns to get there are, well, they say it is like being in Mexico but it’s still the USA. In Brownsville, you can park in the University parking lot and walk over to Matamoros, Mexico.

      I lived close by in Los Fresnos. Winter Texans (like snow birds) are everywhere and quick to perform service for others. It’s beautiful and the people are amazing. Spanish comes in handy but not necessary. It’s on my bucket list to go back and visit in an RV. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. How often do you rinse salt spray from your vehicle, camper and gear to keep from rusting? Is the sand pretty hard all over to keep from getting stuck? I have a 37′ 5th wheel and 1 ton pickup. Thank you for your blog!

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    1. We stayed a week and washed when we left and already had new rust. It’s probably best to do it every few days. If you stayed towards the entrance you will be fine, the beach gets narrow further down, though very well packed on “the road”but as long as your not blocking the roadway you should be fine anywhere. Just don’t get into the loose sand near the dunes.

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  2. Would you say a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary to get to this camping location on the beach? Did you need to do anything else to jockey your way into that spot such as deflating tires, etc.?

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  3. We have camped at Mustang Island State Park in February for the last five years and have often thought about camping on the beach but never have. For me there are a couple of reasons. The sand is very very fine, flour sand it is called for a reason. It is fine enough to easily get through normal window screens and having numerous occasions to tent camp along upper Mississippi River sand bars I’m not a fan of sand in my bedding. It is also fine enough to drift like snow to depths of 2 to 3 feet making travel more difficult. Beach conditions can change rapidly, be mindful of tides accompanied by onshore winds that can push the warter farther up the beach than you might imagine. Also the access roads cut through the dunes and funnel the wind encouraging drifting and they may be come impassable at times even to novices with 4 wheel drive.

    That said, the county camping on the beach at Port Aransas, while fairly popular is well maintained offering the least chance of getting stuck. Beach buggies are allowed (golf carts, UTV ) if licensed but I have never seen an ATV and I don’t believe they are legal.

    From the national seashore you can drive south along the beach for around 70 miles one way, that will wile away a good portion of the day. It can get rough in spots so 4×4 is a must. There are plenty of opportunities to collect trash, new stock arrives daily, so please help out by taking some with you. Trash containers are everywhere. This year I easily filled my pickup box with items that had washed ashore.

    Under certain conditions there are windsurfers, wave surfers and powered hang gliders to watch. The Port Aransas beach area usually has a lot of kite flyers. And occasionally you can see ocean going vessels navigating the ship canal. This year while waiting for the free ferry we saw an oil drilling platform being dragged in for maintenance by six tugs. HUGE!

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  4. We are considering bringing the trailer down and camping on the beach. How much rust are we talking about with a week long stay?

    Also can you have camp fires on the beach?

    We would be coming from Colorado so rust is not really a problem here.

    Thanks Darren

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