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The best beaches in Texas

By Meredith Carey
July 31, 2017, 3:46:04 PM EDT

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South Padre Island's more mature neighbor, Padre Island National Seashore, is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world. (Photo/Texas Tourism)

We'll admit it. At first glance, the state of Texas beaches is underwhelming. Between the spring breakers and year-round partiers on South Padre Island to beaches that are more dirt than sand, it can be hard to find hidden pockets of real beach. But whether you want to hunt for seashells, windsurf, actually surf (who knew), or just sit out with plenty of layers of SPF and a good book, Texas has a beach for you, with real sand and access to the Gulf.

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Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world but its national seashore is one of the state's most underrated areas. Home to sea turtle nesting grounds, 380 bird species, and 70 miles of coastline, these shores are secluded. From Malaquite Beach to South Beach, visitors can camp directly on the sand for a few dollars a night or just find a quiet spot to pitch an umbrella for the day. If you're looking to go to the island's more remote beaches, make sure your car has four-wheel drive.

Crystal Beach

Located along the the state's Upper Gulf coast on the Bolivar Peninsula, Crystal Beach is for the party set. Sunbathers can pull their cars (and trucks) directly onto the edge of the sand, set up barbecues, and walk right out to the water. Plan a trip here later in the season, since strands of seaweed brought in by the current pile up in the early summer months.

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