December, 2012. Port Aransas, Texas. Life’s A Beach

Posted on December 11, 2012

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DSCN0021When it comes to life on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, the Lone Star State does it right.

Texas is the only state in the nation that has an Open Beaches Act. This means beaches can be privately owned, but are subject to a public beach easement, allowing everyone free and unrestricted access to, and use of, the state’s coastal beaches.

You won’t find that in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, Alabama. In fact, beach access there is quite limited, as the state has allowed condos and hotels to be built between the road and the water, effectively sealing off long stretches from public view or use.

Access to the Gulf is a bit better in Mississippi – thanks to Hurricane Katrina sweeping up much of the coastline – but I’ve been told “good luck” if you want to walk your dog along the beach.

Louisiana is a little short on beaches, having more wetland edging the Gulf than sand. However, the Cajun Riviera’s Holly Beach was a dandy –  until it got ripped apart by a series of hurricanes.

But the Lone Star State’s barrier islands, Mustang and Padre, offer what is, to us, a pretty unique beach experience.

Mustang Island is 18 miles long, stretching from Corpus Christi to Port Aransas, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east and south, and Corpus Christi Bay on the north and west. The island’s southern end connects by roadway to Padre Island, which is 113 miles long.

Thanks to the Open Beaches Act, that adds up to approximately 130 miles to walk the dog, beach comb, fish or camp.

We’ve spent most of our time in the Port Aransas area of Mustang Island, using nDSCN0011umerous access roads leading from the main asphalt highway to the sand road along the beach.

This sand road, about 60 feet from the edge of the water, is treated just like a “regular” road, subject to whatever laws regulate automobiles on any city street.

Yes, you will see condos, hotels and other buildings, but they are all located on the land side of the sand road.

Every so far there’s a section for vendors to park, rest rooms and trash bins.

You can campcampingonbeach anywhere on the beach in tent, trailer or motorhome – all you need is a $12.00 parking pass that is good for the entire year, and you can stay as long as you like.

There are sections for vendors parking, restrooms and trash containers dotted along the way, and regular mechanized beach sweeping, even during the winter months.

The Texas General Land Office is the official steward of all state-owned lands, and is responsible for management of the entire 367 miles of Texas coastline.

Their good stewardship makes the Gulf Coast of Texas a very special place to visit.

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Posted in: Travel - Texas