Off the Beaten Path Gulf Coast Treasure
Updated: Feb 9
My husband and I are both native Texans, frequenting the gulf coast our whole lives between Port Aransas, South Padre Island, Galveston, and Matagorda Beach but one year we decided to check out a new spot with one of the shortest driving distances to Austin, Surfside Beach.
Nestled between Galveston Island to the Northeast and the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and Matagorda Bay to the Southwest, Surfside Beach along the Bluewater Highway comes into view about 3.5 hours from Austin. Like other beachy, Texas towns, it has a few convenience stores, souvenir shops and a few small, over priced grocery store options but in the way of tourism, Surfside is most definitely less so than it’s more popular coastal competitors.
With no corporate owned hotels, visiting Surfside is almost 100% done by way of AirBnB.com or VRBO.com. There you will find a treasure trove of colorful beach houses in a range of sizes and amenities. We lean toward the more affordable options as close to the water as possible, even if it means sacrificing a fancy finish out. This trip, we found the perfect spot, a location new to us, that we will most definitely be returning!
Not to be fooled by the lack of a witty ocean themed name, Property #462018 (113 Beach Drive) on VRBO.com was absolutely the perfect fit for our family of five + our dog, Louie (and for more in non-Covid times!). With 4 beds, 3 baths, a large open living/kitchen arrangement, strong wifi, an unbeatable ocean view and sleeping 20 people, this spot is a steal I’m a little afraid of sharing! Literally only a few steps from the water, one crew can be playing in the waves while the other sits on the deck with not only a clear view but within talking distance none-the-less! At high tide, our deck piers were actually in the water. Although tucked in a quiet little pocket between the Jetty beach and the main public access beach, we met friendly passers by that were also virtual schooling and observed plenty of locals fishing, strolling or just hanging out in the cute little A-frame beach huts over the water.
Surfside Beach may best be known for it’s quiet, local feeling beach accommodations but it’s also a fishing and, wouldn’t you know it, surfing destination. On a summer day, you’ll see surfers lined up along a short little stretch of Beach Drive just East of the Jetty where the waves break. Folks looking to fish head to the Jetty itself or to the South side ship channel where the waters are more calm.
In between these two spots is Surfside proper. Defined by rows of modest but colorful beach houses on a grid of streets, a public access beach, playscape, Surfside City Hall and a handful of bar and dining options recommended to us like Dorados Seafood, Sharkies on the Beach, The Jetty Shack, and Beachfront Deck Bar and Grill.
Although character rich, Surfside proper is only 1.7 square miles, however beach homes are available for rent for miles past downtown. Despite the bar and dining out options available, my favorite spot right now (and let’s be honest, every time we’ve come down) is Surfin’ Rita Daiquiris To Go! Delicious, frozen treats in a plastic cup that are the perfect accompaniment with a day at the beach.
We opted for a quieter trip this season, spending our time flying a kite, fishing in the surf outside our door, crabbing on the bay side for bait, boogie boarding (for the brave souls that don’t mind the cool Fall water temps!), digging and building in the sand and of course, committing to a jigsaw puzzle we were sure not to finish within our 3 days.
All in all, Surfside was a new experience in a familiar place. A Covid-friendly get away not far from home but far enough to offer the kids a completely new environment, a new playground of sand, shells and little treasures, waves to bound on during recess and lots and lots of fun, stress-free memories to be made in a time when virtual school, Zoom meetings and a lack of friend meet ups and parties can take its emotional toll on kids and adults alike. Surfside Beach was just the soul food we all needed!