A weekend or vacation to the coast usually includes time on the beach but if you are heading to Mustang Island or North Padre Island during the summer months or over a holiday, you can expect spending one to two hours sitting in slow-moving traffic to reach a Gulf of Mexico beach. My coastal world, however, includes bay beaches with easy access and small crowds.
Wave action is less than along the Gulf but perfect for small children and adults who are less adventurous. Many shells make their way into the bays so shelling is still possible. In most of these bays, there will be swimmers and fishermen. You can launch a canoe, kayak or paddle board from the bank or just relax while watching the shorebirds.
Portland sits beside Nueces Bay with two areas which have public access for a variety of outdoor experiences. Sunset Lake is visible as you enter the city from the south on Highway 181 but after winding through residential streets to 201 Sunset Drive, you will find small parking areas in Sunset Lake Park and worn paths leading to the edge of Nueces Bay.
If you drive back into the residential area of Portland to 305 Wildcat Drive, you will arrive at Violet Andrews Park. From the bluff is a great view of Nueces Bay. A path leads to the shoreline or you can follow the paved walkway through the coastal area.
A short drive heading north to Ingleside then south to 800 Bayshore Drive, Ingleside on the Bay, is the private members only Ingleside Beach Club. Located on the La Quinta Channel, the view is still Nueces Bay with the skyline of Corpus Christi on the horizon. Frequent visitors to the area who might be interested in membership can find more information through Ingleside Beach Club Facebook page.
If you start toward the ferry landing as you leave Aransas Pass on Highway 361 there are several places to leave the paved road and reach the Flats along the edge of Redfish Bay. Camping is permitted in these areas with permits from the City of Aransas Pass. No permit is needed for day use only.
Just off Business 35 while heading north is the Rockport Beach at 210 Seabreeze Drive. There is a parking fee to enter this Blue Wave Beach along Aransas Bay. The shallow entrance to the water makes this beach a favorite for families with small children.
Rockport Beach open at 6 a.m. daily and closes at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, it remains open until midnight.
For your next trip to the coast, consider spending some of your time enjoying the bays in my coastal world. Delight under our blue skies beside calm waters.