Mustang Island State Park is a terrific beach to visit when in Port Aransas, whether you are coming for the day or to spend a few days camping on the beach or in one of the RV and camping sites! Named for the wild mustangs that once roamed the island, it’s easy to sit back on the beach and imagine a time when you could hear their hooves beating along the shore, where children now run and play!
Check out My Mommy Tips for making the most of your visit!
Know Before You Go
Day use does not allow you to drive your car to the beach, but the $10 overnight beach camping permit does.
If you plan to stay after dusk, pack plenty of bug repellent! While we’ve visited some year’s and not even needed it, our visit in June 2015 they were VERY bad at dusk and after dark.
Beach Packing List
Purchase sunscreen and bug spray in large quantities at home, it’s more expensive on the island.
Ice chest filled with drinks and food
Boogie boards and skim boards
A kite to take advantage of the great S. Texas wind! (There are wind farms all over the area).
Sand toys, bucket and shovel
Baby powder to help remove the sand before you get back in your car.
Ball and/or frisbee
Vinegar or meat tenderizer in case of a jellyfish sting.
Tow rope in case you get stuck.
There is a shower along the boardwalk, tables and plenty of space to spread out and play in the water without worrying about cars driving on the beach!
When the free beaches along Padre and Port A are filled end to end with tents, Mustang Island stays busy but never as packed. It’s also a very nice, family-friendly environment each time we have been.
Beach camping is completely primitive, no electricity or water.
There are not camping sites, it’s more grab your own piece of the sand.
The state park locks it’s front gate each night at 10pm, so you don’t have cars driving along the beach all night. You are provided with the code at check-in, but be sure to arrive before then.
Fires are allowed on the beach, even during most fire bans. Bring your firewood, a shovel to dig a fire pit, and be certain to fill your hole back in to keep sea turtles from coming ashore to lay eggs and falling in them.
Be prepared for mosquitos at dusk/night by spraying early, using tiki torches and citronella candles. Put on long sleeve shirt and pants.
Give kids glow sticks at night to help keep up with them. We were intrigued with the kites still flying at night, illuminated by glow sticks attached!
Bring a flashlight and net for seeing all the amazing beach creatures, like crabs, that come out at night!
Keeping Sand out of your tent
While you aren’t going to avoid all sand in your tent, there ate ways to cut down.
Set down firm rules early on no entry until bedtime, this will help keep mosquitos out, too.
Use your rain tarp. Our tent has screen sides which allow in sand even with the tarp up.
Place a stand up shelter with sides in front of your tent to block the blowing sand.
Face your tent opening away from the water.
The problem with the last 2 suggestions is that the mosquitos will cluster anyplace they have shelter from the wind. Be sure to limit time tent door is open and NEVER use white light in your tent, which attract bugs.
Mustang Island has lots of terrific wildlife to watch during your visit! I love the Brown Pelicans that can be seen all over the Texas Gulf Coast now. The species was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2009, after remarkable recovery from the harms off DDT.
The Sea Turtles that frequent the Texas Gulf Coast each summer to lay eggs are also threatened by human interference. Bright lights, noise, water pollution and boats all play a huge part in their declined numbers, but concerned people have stepped forward to help them out! While you are on any Texas beach, keep an eye out for turtles laying eggs and report them immediately!
At Mustang Island State Park, you can visit the fishing jetty to see Green Sea Turtles as they swim in the waters searching for food.
If you visit the island during the summer, be certain you check out the Padre Island NS Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery. From June through August they release just hatched sea turtles onto the beach at 6:45am. The releases are FREE to the public, and upwards of a thousand people will often line the beach to cheer on the little turtles as they head out to open water! Click HERE to visit their facebook page for release dates and current information.
Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail
Definitely on my to-do list is a kayak trip out on the Mustang Island Paddling Trail! The trail takes you out into the bay, where you can paddle along the shore of the bay and into many of the little canals and lakes on the north side of the island.
At this time, the state park does not rent out kayaks or canoes for the trail, however Coastal Bend Kayak does, along with guided tours! Click HERE to visit their website.
Things To Do in Port Aransas
Red Dragon Pirate Cruise is a fun cruise into the bay as the kids and adults alike are entertained with pirate songs, dances and lots of games for everyone! The all-boat watergun fight was my favorite! Click HERE for more information.
The Port Aransas Sandcastle Guy came out to give us a lesson in building sandcastles, and we quickly realized that we have been doing it all wrong! We had such great time, and I was surprised how much even the youngest kids in our group loved it and it held their attention through the entire lesson! Click HERE for more information!
Take the ferry over to St. Joe Island for great shelling! Click HERE to read more!
Padre Island Burger Company has great burgers in a funky, old dive restaurant!
Mustang Island State Park
Click HERE to visit their website.
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