The lowest point in Texas is the well-known Gulf of Mexico at sea level. This area is known as the Gulf Coast of Texas and has pristine beaches, vast wildlife, and activities for the whole family. Besides this, the Gulf Coast has a rich history, as it was the home of Native Americans for thousands of years. The Gulf Coast is your best bet if you want a seaside vacation spot. So, let’s see what can tempt you to vacation at the lowest point in Texas, a state that drew over 213.95 million visitors in 2018.
History of the Texas Gulf Coast
Native Americans have lived on the Gulf Coast of Texas for millennia. They lived in small tribes, and each tribe had its name, dress, and slightly different language. These Native Americans were a part of either the Atakapa or the Karankawa. Atakapa people lived in the northern region of the Gulf coast, and the Karankawa people lived in the southern area. Both the Atakapa and Karankawa ate ducks and turtles that they caught. They migrated inland for parts of the year to hunt and find shelter. For example, the Karankawa hunted deer and searched for pecans away from the coast in the spring and summer. They stayed on the Gulf coast from autumn to winter, eating shellfish, fish, and root vegetables.
In the 1500s, a few Spanish ships were wrecked in the Gulf. Some sailors survived after they met and lived with the Karankawa Indians. These Spanish survivors were the first documented outsiders to explore the Texas coast. After a period, the Spanish survivors left the Karankawa people. They explored Texas and Mexico, looking for other Spanish settlers or survivors. Cabeza de Vaca was one of the Spanish survivors who documented the life of the survivors in Texas.
In the late 1600s, French explorers arrived in the Gulf region. The Spanish and French people wanted to live on the coast but could not do so in harmony as they were enemies at the time. La Salle, a Frenchman, explored the Gulf coast along with many others. These Frenchmen built Fort St. Louis, a small settlement that was eventually destroyed. Some French survivors lived with the Indian groups after this incident.
Where Is the Texas Gulf Coast Located on a Map?
Texas Gulf Coast extends from Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area in the south to the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge. The former location is ideal for fans of nature and is a refuge for white-winged doves. The latter, on the other hand is a 6,000-acre reserve in which visitors not only get to experience the beauty of nature, but can also fish as well.
Tourist Attractions on the Texas Gulf Coast – The Lowest Point
Texas’ beautiful Gulf Coast is home to more than 600 miles of dunes, rustic barrier islands, chic seaside towns, and wildlife habitats. Take a trip, and these are just some of the adventures you can discover on and off the sand.
Kitesurfing at the Lowest Point in Texas
With steady winds, warm temperatures, and shallow waters, South Padre Island is perfect for kitesurfing all year round. If you’re new to kitesurfing, imagine snowboarding in flat waters propelled by the wind power of a large kite you control. Local outfitters like Air Padre Kiteboarding can help you with your first lesson.
Kayaking and Boating
With four miles of hiking trails and over 10 miles of paddle trails, Galveston Island State Park is arguably one of the Gulf Coast’s premier natural areas. The park is a nature lover’s paradise and is home to herons, terns, shrikes, kingbirds, and black dwarfs. Even leaping fish emerge from the park’s wetlands, dunes, and puddles to put on a show.
Take Part in a Local Tradition at the Lowest Point in Texas
Port Aransas has six miles of sandy beaches that stretch along the Texas coast. With the bustling atmosphere of a beach town, the Gulf’s warm waters, and the manicured coastline, there’s plenty to do here during the day. Port Aransas consistently tops most sand desert lists. But keep up the fun after the sun goes down. Bonfires on the beach and sparks rising to the stars are local traditions.
Build Sandcastles and Win!
With 600 miles of sand on the Texas Gulf Coast, there’s no question that sandcastle competitions are serious business here. Galveston has the AIA Sandcastle competition and the Texas Sandfest, the nation’s largest sand sculpting competition. The SandFest is held in Port He Aransas. They also have annual Sandcastle Days, which lights up the beaches of South Padre Island. Watch, participate, or get inspired to create your own.
Take a Stroll on the Galveston Pier
An amusement park dating back to the 1940s, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier spans 1,100 wooden feet over the bay. It is full of rides, carnivals, souvenir shops, 5D cinemas, and roller coasters. If you’re looking for nostalgia and the kids are looking for some serious fun, there’s probably nowhere more thrilling than Pleasure Pier.
Visit Matagorda Island
The tranquil island of Matagorda is an off-the-grid paradise. Board the boat shuttle from Port O’Connor and spend the day hiking, fishing, and viewing abundant wildlife. A limited public use permit allows you to camp at one of 13 primitive campsites near the docks. Pack everything you need, including water, so you don’t leave a mark on this pristine segment of nature on your way home.
Some of the Best Beaches on the Texas Coast
If you need to take a break and revive your soul and energy, the lowest point in Texas offers plenty of beach getaway locations. Look after your health and well-being by vacationing at one of these magnificent beach spots.
Matagorda Beach has plenty of fun in the sun for the whole family. The beach is over 20 miles long and can be reached by boat. Anyone with a 4×4 permit can drive along the beach, hike, and camp amongst the dunes. This shore is a nature-friendly place, especially for families. The sand is smooth, the sands clean, and calm, perfect for swimming and digging for beautiful sea shells.
Visit the Mustang Island State Park at the Lowest Texas Elevation Point
The Mustang Island State Park is just a short drive across the JFK Memorial Causeway and north of the Padre Island National Seashore. This beach is five miles of sandy beaches where visitors can swim, surf, camp, picnic, fish, hike, go mountain biking, kayak, bird watch, and more. The ranger program offers bird watching, a night out under the stars, and fishing.
Galveston Island State Park
The beautiful 2,000-hectare barrier island landscape of lagoons, dunes, and bays consists of an endlessly active and vibrant ecosystem. Explore endless opportunities for running paddle trails, swimming, fishing, bird watching, and camping. Visit the on-site nature center immediately upon arrival. This center is where you can identify the wildlife and plant life of the park. You can also find information about art programs, star gazing activities, and water sports tours.
This vacation destination at the lowest point in Texas is the state’s first blue wave beach. Rockport Beach is litter-free, responsibly managed, and barrier-free. This destination is situated along a small, picturesque peninsula. It stretches for a mile past Aransas Bay, offering views from all angles and shallow waters that make carefree beach fun for the entire family. With a thatched roof area, spots to barbecue, and picnic areas, you can pack a cooler and enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach. There is also an 800-foot jetty at the eastern end of the sandy beach.
San José Island: A Gem in the Lowest Texas Point
Take a ferry from Port Aransas across Aransas Pass, and you’ll get to San Jose Island. San Jose Island is only seen by a few mainland visitors each year. This true hideaway, over 20 miles of rugged coastline, is one of the state’s best swimming and fishing beaches. On the island, you will likely see much more birds than people. It’s charming, so don’t expect seaside restaurants or wide promenades when you arrive.
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- USGS, Available here: https://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/Elevations-Distances/elvadist.html
- Let's Texas, Available here: https://www.traveltexas.com/cities-and-regions/gulf-coast/fun-in-the-texas-sand/
- Let's Texas, Available here: https://www.traveltexas.com/articles/post/five-texas-beaches-to-discover-gulf-coast/
- Texas Parks & Wildlife, Available here: https://tpwd.texas.gov/education/resources/texas-junior-naturalists/regions/gulf-coast/gulf-coast-history