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Trip report for North Padre Island National Seashore (near Corpus Christi, TX)

May 2003

My wife and I just got back (May 2003) from a glorious 3 days nude at the beach at North Padre Island National Seashore, about 20 minutes SE of Corpus Christi, TX.

There's a 5 mile stretch there called "North Beach" that's closed to motor vehicles; it does have a bit of trash and seaweed that washes up, but is still a beautiful place to spend the day at the beach. It’s really nice for those beginners to nude sunbathing-- it's VERY isolated and secluded, and so excellent for even the modest to lose their tanlines. One whole day (a weekday) we only had 2 people walk past- one of them a man (nude), the other an older beach-comber woman who saw us, just smiled, waved, and kept beachcombing. There were several other couples some distance away (1/4 mile?), but they were just close enough that we could tell they were also enjoying the beach "au naturel."

Rangers patrol the beach regularly, so it feels very safe, family oriented, and not at all lewd. We were curious as to what the park service thought about all the nude sunbathing on their beach, so finally stopped one of the rangers (putting on our suits first just to be cautious) and asked what the "enforcement policy" was like. He was terrific. Very professional, he quickly put us at ease, saying, "We see everything here… so as long as there's nothing offensive going on, we're pretty tolerant. If a busload of kids comes walking up the beach, we’d want you to put your clothes on." After that good news, we stopped bothering to even cover up when the rangers would pass, and, sure enough, they’d just give a friendly wave and drive right by.

As for lodging, there's a "Best Western" about 10 miles outside the park, but there's also plenty of camping inside. The Laguna Madre side at the Bird Island Basin is where we decided we'd camp next time, as it's out of the ever-present wind blowing sand in your face in the evenings, so is a little more peaceful, and the windsurfing crowd there is hip.

To get to the beach, take the "North Beach Road" to the left just before the park gate entrance. At the end of the road, park on the beach to the right and start walking (my wife and I took bicycles, so we could cover some distance, and get away from it all, fast- this turned out to be a great idea, as the sand near the water is firm and easy to ride on). After about a 1/2 mile, the clothed beach-goers stop, and you'll see people enjoying the beach the way nature intended! We can't wait to go back.

Note: If you’ve got a 4wd vehicle, Padre Island National Seashore also has a 61 mile long stretch of sand called the "South Beach" where you drive on the beach. We explored this a bit down to about 22 miles, and did find a nice spot to spend the day nude and camp. Even though the quality of sand is probably nicer and softer here, we decided we liked North Beach better. Trucks come barreling along South Beach about 4 per hour, sometimes 30-35 mph. We also didn’t like the occasional gawkers, and then got tired of having to run for cover and be constantly on the lookout. At North Beach, in contrast, nudity is more of a norm, and you never have to worry about speeding vehicles surprising you or running you over.

Finally - MOST IMPORTANTLY - if you go, take an empty garbage bag or two to collect some of the trash that washes up! Nude beach goers need to be responsible! If you leave a full bag by the dunes, the rangers will come by and pick it up. And remember, May and June are peak season for the endangered Kemp Ridley sea turtles coming back to nest-report any turtle nests you see to the Park Authorities! Have a great day at the beach!

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