If you are looking for the best Gulf Coast beaches, then you have come to the right place! Whether you are a local to one of the Gulf Coast states, or traveling for a semi-tropical beach vacation, this list will have the perfect beach for you!
The United States has every type of terrain you can imagine: mountains, deserts, valleys, rolling hills. The thing that sets America apart from a lot of other countries, is the miles upon miles of pristine coastline. The east coast has the Atlantic Ocean, the west coast has the Pacific Ocean, and the Southern States have the warm Gulf of Mexico!
The USA Gulf Coast is bordered by five states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida! This list will organize them by state from west to east. Grab your sunglasses and beach towel, and fill up your car because you will want to rush off to these beautiful Gulf Coast beaches!
15 Best USA Gulf Coast Beaches You Must Visit
Port Aransas beach is located in the town of Port Aransas on Mustang Island near Corpus Christi! With its location on the gulf side of the island, Port Aransas is one of the most entertaining Texas Gulf beaches! The entirety of the beach area is 18 miles, but it gets pretty full with vacationers looking to have a good time!
The Port Aransas Beach is located directly in front of the resorts. If you are staying in one of the resorts, a beach day is incredibly convenient! The water is warm and the beach is wide open! There is also the option to get a permit to have a 3×3 fire on the beach.
With lots of lifeguards on duty, this is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families! There is plenty of space for swimming, boogie boarding, and body surfing! The surrounding town provides plenty more activities for you and your family! Port Aransas is one of the best USA Gulf Coast beaches!
Surfside Beach is one of the greatest Texas Gulf beaches if you are looking to surf, wind surf, kayak, or fish. The deeper water contributes to a more powerful current for these activities. Visitors can swim in the gulf as well or spend the day lounging on the beach!
Surfside Beach allows horseback riding during the off season. For the summer months, driving on the beach is allowed with a permit! There are boat ramps available for those wanting to do some deeper sea fishing!
This beach has its fair share of wildlife — some friendly and some not! Many come to Surfside Beach for the birdwatching and to walk the Butterfly trail. Snakes can hide in the dunes, so take extra caution when walking through.
The town Surfside Beach has a plethora of dining and lodging options if you wanted to take advantage of one of the best Gulf Coast vacation spots on the Texas coast! Many of the restaurants and hotels are beachside with gorgeous views of the water to make this an idyllic retreat!
Padre Balli Park
Padre Balli Park is located in the Coast Guard town of Corpus Christi! Open all year, this RV park has paved spots with water and electric hookups and a dump station! There is also an area for tent camping! Padre Balli Park is one of the best Texas Gulf beaches!
Padre Balli Park has some fun amenities that you don’t find at every public beach. A beach campfire with s’mores and the waves crashing behind you is a fun experience that is available! You can also drive onto the beach (with the proper permit)! That will definitely make hauling firewood, surfboards, and an ice chest much easier!
The lighted fishing pier is the perfect place to catch your dinner! But if nothing is biting, there is also a concession area available! Showers, first aid, and most importantly, bathrooms are all available as well!
When visiting, make sure to bring some bug spray! The mosquitos can disrupt a trip. Padre Balli Park is one of the best beaches in the Gulf Coast!
Holly Beach is also known as the Cajun Riviera and we cannot imagine a more apt name for one of the best Louisiana Gulf beaches! With six access points and no frills, there is always plenty of space to spread out on this beautiful beach!
Holly Beach is an ideal spot for fisherman as a license is not required and the area is fairly secluded. Additional to fishing, there are several public crabbing sites for a fun new adventure!
As with any Louisiana Gulf beach, make sure to look for posted signage. This area of the Gulf Coast has stronger currents than other areas and bacteria levels can increase to levels that are unsafe.
For fisherman, beach loungers, and seashell hunters, Holly Beach is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches.
Grand Isle Beach, within Grand Isle State Park, is one of the best Louisiana Gulf beaches! The Louisiana coast is unique from the other Gulf Coast states because it is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by an extended wetland system. Because of this rapidly eroding marsh, areas such as Grand Isle State Park are so important for the preservation of the wetlands.
At Grand Isle Beach, you can camp right on the beach for a small fee! If beach camping does not strike your fancy there are plenty of vacation rentals in the area! The amenities include showers, bathrooms, and even WiFi! The beach and state park are wonderful for exploring the flora and fauna of the area. Be sure to keep an eye on the water! It is very common for dolphins to swim pretty close to shore!
The nights get chilly and mosquitos come out in droves so bring layers and bug repellent! Only two hours from New Orleans, Grand Isle is one of the best Gulf Coast vacation spots!
When you think of Mississippi, you probably do not think of going to the beach, but you should! Biloxi Beach is on the best Mississippi Gulf beaches! With 30 miles of pristine white sand and plenty of amenities nearby, this is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches for families!
Located only an hour from New Orleans, Biloxi Beach is a perfect slice of paradise right in Mississippi! The beach is very long, but pretty narrow which makes the distance to the water pretty minimal! The water is fairly shallow which creates a safer environment for kids. There are jellyfish though so be cautious!
There are plenty of restaurants and a casino nearby so there is no need to pack in meals! Biloxi Beach is one of the best USA Gulf Coast beaches!
Biloxi is also home to some of the best Resorts In Mississippi, including beachfront ones!
This is truly one of the closest beaches near New Orleans you shouldn’t miss.
Ship Island Beach
Ship Island Beach is one of the best Mississippi Gulf beaches for adults! The beach is on Ship Island so you will need to take a ferry to get there. The boat ride is approximately an hour and $30 per person. The ferry is definitely the start of your beach mindset! Oftentimes dolphins will swim along the ferry and jump up to see what’s going on!
While on the island, you can tour the historical fort, rent sunbeds and umbrellas, or just relax on the beach. There is a reasonably priced snack bar or you can pack your food in. The white sand beaches and clear blue water are picturesque!
The southern most end of the beach is a nude section! It can be quite a walk so it’s rare to stumble onto it, but those that make the journey are welcome to sunbathe or swim in the nude. There are jellyfish and crabs surrounding the island so all swimmers should take care. Ship Island Beach is one of the best Gulf of Mexico beaches for adults!
Cotton Bayou Beach
Located in Gulf State Park, Cotton Bayou Beach is one of the cleanest Louisiana Gulf beaches! The sand is warm, clean, and white. You will feel so relaxed taking your shoes off and squishing the sand between your toes! The water is warm and clear as well!
Cotton Bayou Beach has clean public restrooms, showers, and free parking! You can watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico either from the beach, the wooden walk path, or from the spacious pier. Only three hours from Montgomery, Cotton Bayou Beach is the perfect quick getaway to lay on the sand, swim in the Gulf and decompress!
Because of its cleanliness and close proximity to towns, Cotton Bayou Beach is one of the best beaches along the Gulf Coast!
Bon Secour Beach
Located within Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge, Bon Secour Beach is one of the best Gulf Coast beaches if you are looking to see some wildlife. Coming from the French term “safe harbor” Bon Secour was established in 1980 to preserve some of the last remaining coastal habitats in Alabama.
Although not your traditional beach destination, the chance to see the native flora and fauna is unparalleled. The 7,000 acres of undeveloped land allows you to envision what the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast looked like before the development of condominiums and beach resorts.
Visited by over 100,000 people a year, the majesty of Bon Secour Beach should be visited as one of the most well preserved Alabama Gulf beaches.
Dauphin Island Public Beach
Dauphin Island Public Beach is one of the least visited Alabama Gulf beaches. Located on the west end of Dauphin Island, just 30 miles outside of Mobile, the beach has powdery white sand and is a locals favorite!
The car ferry brings many people to the island not for beach activities necessarily. Dauphin Island is frequented by birders as it is on the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail and is a sanctuary for birds.
If you are interested in staying nearby there are plenty of vacation rentals to choose from. During the busier months, it’s best to book earlier! If you are looking for something lowkey, Dauphin Island is one of the best Gulf Coast vacation spots!
Alabama Point Beach
Alabama Point Beach is one of the busiest Alabama Gulf beaches! The beach is approximately 6000 feet wide and is completely white and sandy. Unlike the other beaches on our list, this one has a view of the bridge and you can spend the afternoon watching the ships go by.
The busy season has this beach crawling with your standard beachgoers, but also surfers, weddings, photographers so our advice is to get there early and claim your spot! Alabama Point Beach is one of the busiest, but it is also one of the most picturesque USA Gulf Coast beaches!
With twelve miles of beautifully pristine coastline, Navarre Beach is one of the most breathtaking Florida Gulf beaches! All of your standard beach activities are available here! The crystal clear emerald water is perfect for spending the afternoon swimming and snorkeling. The sandy white beaches beg you to relax, read a book, take a nap, or watch the waves.
If you ever watched Jaws II and wanted to relax on those beaches (minus the sharks!) then Navarre Beach is perfect because most of the movie was filmed there and in Destin! This beach has a Sea Turtle Conservation Center, fishing pier, marine park, dolphin pavilion, sand dollar pavilion and so much more!
Navarre Beach is one of the best beaches along the Gulf Coast and a must if you’re in northeast Florida!
A quick 35 minutes from Tampa is one of the most popular Florida Gulf beaches! Clearwater Beach is consistently rated among the nation’s most beautiful in the country and for good reason. The sand is so white it looks like a beach of sugar. The water is the most perfect shade of tropical blues and greens. The breeze coming off the Gulf of Mexico is tranquil and provides a welcome break from the Florida sun.
The restaurants surrounding Clearwater are worth the trip alone! After a fun of day of swimming in the warm Gulf waters, skim boarding along the shore, or dozing in the sand, the hotels in the Clearwater Beach area are the picture of comfort for all cost points. With their proximity to the beach, a stay here is a must! Clearwater Beach is one of the best Gulf Coast vacation spots!
Panama City Beach and Pier
Panama City is one of the best places to visit on the Gulf Coast! Frequented by everyone from college students to families to couples, Panama City Beach and Pier has something for everyone! Like many of the Florida Gulf beaches, Panama City Beach is perfect for swimming in the Gulf, lounging on the sand, or shellhunting.
There is also the option of going to Pier Park and arranging some rentals like bikes, paddle boards, jet skis, or even umbrellas! Since you’re already there, you must try some of the best restaurants in the area! There is so much to do in Panama City that you are sure to want to extend your trip!
There are also four fishing piers to choose from! Three of the piers go into the Gulf of Mexico and the fourth gives fisherman an opportunity to try their hand at the Grand Lagoon. Come for the day and stay for a few at Panama City Beach and Pier, a favorite among the USA Gulf Coast beaches!
Another incredibly rated beach is Siesta Key, just south of Sarasota! An interesting facet to Siesta Key is the quartz-crystal powdery white sand and the soft rolling emerald green waves. As the name suggests, this is one of the most relaxing Florida Gulf beaches!
Siesta Key has drum circles throughout the week and nearby beaches are the best places to find sharks teeth! Paddle-boarders and kayakers off the beach will have a big chance to see both dolphins and manatees! It would be hard to do all of Siesta Key in a day, so we recommend staying for a few nights and really taking advantage of everything they have to offer!
Siesta Key is by far one of the best Gulf Coast Beaches and we can’t recommend it enough!