Cowboys. Pickup Trucks. The Alamo. Barbeque. Surfing? Believe it or not, Texas is a hidden gem for beginners and veteran surfers alike. With well over 300 miles of sprawling coastline, it’s no wonder that those in the know have long been referring to the Lone Star State as The Third Coast.
For most surfers, the gulf coast isn’t even a consideration when it comes to hunting for the best surf spots. You can’t blame them either. Whoever came up with the adage “Everything’s Bigger in Texas” probably wasn’t talking about the waves.
While the waves aren’t always ideal in Texas, the weather usually is. Since you’re able to surf year-round, it’s easy to take advantage of some gnarly waves during hurricane season in the summer and fall. In the winter and spring, the jet stream often helps the storms in the Atlantic make it through to the gulf, which makes for some equally excellent surfing.
Experienced surfers are sure to love how quiet it is here. You certainly won’t be competing with hundreds of other surfers for the choicest waves. Meanwhile, those who are just learning how to surf will be able to grab their boards and head to the gulf without the anxiety that comes with catching your first waves in a more crowded area.
Of course, since surfing the gulf can be a bit fickler than surfing along the East or West coasts, it helps to know where you’re more likely to find great surf. Fortunately, our list of the seven best surfing spots in Texas will make it easy for you to find quality waves, wherever you are in the great state of Texas.
South Padre Island
This beautiful beach town is better known for its spring break party scene than it is for its lively surfing community. However, when the beaches aren’t clogged with college students looking to party, this sunny enclave offers some of the best surfing in the state.
At the south end of town, the South Padre Island Jetties produce gentle swells that are fun for all and are ideal for those new to surfing. A bit further south is Boca Chica, which provides some of the best waves in Texas.
When the weather is cooperating, you’ll even find some nice barrels in this area as well, especially at Boca Chica. Boca Chica is an isolated area that will involve some additional driving to get to. But, once you’re finally there, you’ll be rewarded with some great surfing. Given its proximity to South Padre Island, it makes for a good weekend trip where you can hit a different beach each day.
Photo credit: greenwoodking.com
Thanks to its proximity to major cities like Austin and Houston, Surfside Beach is Texas’ most popular surfing break. It’s a bit more crowded than South Padre Island, but thanks to its expansive size, there’s plenty of room for you to hit waves to your heart’s content. Surfside Beach is comprised of several different surf breaks, including the Quintana Jetty, 61st Street Pier, and Octagon.
At Surfside, you’ll be able to catch waves year-round. As you’d imagine, the surfing is best here when a storm is in the forecast. The breaks are cleanest when the wind is blowing from the East or Northeast, so try and keep that in mind when planning a trip.
Since Surfside is Texas’ most popular area for surfers, there’s also plenty of local surf shops in the area where you can rent a board for the day, which makes this area ideal for anyone who’s vacationing in the area and doesn’t have their board with them.
Bob Hall Pier
Photo credit: jennifertolin.wordpress.com
At Corpus Christi’s Bob Hall Pier, you’ll find some of the best fishing in all of Texas. There’s also some waves to be had, as well. The waves here are consistent, and if there’s a storm in the forecast, you can enjoy some great waves with a hollow drop that allows you to ride right up until the shore.
Sure, the waves here aren’t exactly huge, but they still provide plenty of opportunity for a great day surfing, especially when the weather is right. However, if the weather isn’t cooperating, surfing here can be a bit of a bust.
Horace Caldwell Pier
The Horace Caldwell Pier is the crown jewel of surfing in Port Aransas, and it’s delighted local surfers for many years. It’s also one of the area’s most popular fishing destinations. When the tide is heading out, you’ll be treated to some great waves coming off the left side of the pier. While this area is particularly popular with the locals, there always seem to be plenty of room for another surfer.
The Horace Caldwell Pier is fun for surfers of all skill levels, but it’s especially forgiving to beginners. So, if you’re just getting started, add this to your list of must-see spots.
Photo credit: Nicholas Zalud via Flickr
File this one under “not for the faint of heart.” The Mansfield Jetty is one of the least accessible surf destinations in the entire state. But, if you have a boat or a 4x4 at your disposal, you’re in luck.
Located about 30 miles north of South Padre Island, or 60 miles south of the Horace Caldwell Pier, this secluded destination offers some of the best surfing Texas has to offer. While it seems easy enough to get to, Port Mansfield is only accessible by either beach roads, or by boat.
Photo credit: Nicholas Zalud via Flickr
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be rewarded with some of the largest and most well-shaped waves in Texas. This secluded area has some geological advantages over other areas along the coast, and they translate to some great surf. Plus, the town of Port Mansfield has plenty of excellent restaurants and sights for you to enjoy once you’ve gotten your surfing fill.
If you’re looking for the biggest waves in Texas, North Jetty may be your best bet. Those who make the quick boat trip to San Jose Island (where the North Jetty is located), will be treated to a picturesque landscape with great surfing and fishing alike.
San Jose Island is a private island across the shipping canal from Port Aransas. An affordable ferry runs every hour to shuttle you to and from the island. Once you’re there, you’ll find some of the largest and cleanest waves in the state, especially if there’s a westerly wind blowing. This spot is pretty reliable, and you can enjoy consistent surf here year-round.
Photo credit: Billy Metcalf Photography via Flickr
Galveston Island’s Jamaica Beach is a favorite of Houston area for surfers, as it’s one of the closest surfing options in the area. Thanks to the characteristics of the area, Jamaica Beach offers some of the largest waves in the state.
People have only been living on Jamaica Beach for the last sixty years or so. But, there’s some rich history that far predates the Island’s more recent residents. Jamaica Beach is the site of a burial ground for the Karankawa people.
Despite its popularity with Houston natives, Jamaica Beach is one of the quieter surf beaches in the state, so you’ll have plenty of room to yourself. As for the surfing, Jamaica Beach may be the best-hidden gem you’ll find. Deep waters and a sandy bottom break make for some of the cleanest, most well-shaped waves in Texas.
*Cover image credit: Nicholas Zalud via Flickr
You can read more from Luke at BeachRated.com.
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