With more than 3,000 miles of spectacular coastline, Texas seems like a paradise for beach bonfires. Whether you’re visiting busy South Padre or remote Boca Chica, a fire on the beach is a relaxing way to close out the day. As you’re booking Texas vacation rentals near the beach, however, take time to check local burn laws. Because of Texas’ hot temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds off of the ocean, beach bonfires are often allowed without seasonal restrictions, but under tightly regulated conditions. By arriving prepared, you can stay safe, help protect the environment, and identify the most campfire-friendly spots in advance.

1. Mustang Island Beach

Waves washing up on the beach.
Source: Flickr/John W. Schulze

Beautiful Mustang Island Beach is the ultimate Texas bonfire destination. This popular swimming and camping area sits inside Mustang Island State Park, so you can always count on clean facilities, ample parking, and sparkling sand. The vacation rentals of Corpus Christi are just a short drive away, and your family dog is welcome on a leash. Permits are not required for bonfires, but you must stick to the park’s regulations: keep fires small, and always check at the park office to learn about potential fire bans, particularly during the dry summer season.

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2. North Beach, Padre Island

Seagulls balanced on posts in the ocean.
Source: Flickr/Terry Ross

Tucked away in the northern end of Padre Island, North Beach offers a chance to experience a wild Texas beach. This quiet spot, which is part of the Padre Island National Seashore, offers light tourist traffic and excellent swimming. Pets are welcome anywhere on the beach, as long as you pick up after them and they stay on-leash at all times. The National Seashore allows campfires; to stay compliant with local regulations, you must dig a pit in the sand and build your fire inside. Fires must be small, and they are not allowed behind the dunes. In addition, you must pack out any burned material, including charcoal, to keep the shoreline clean. Check with the Malaquite Visitor Center before your trip to learn about any fire bans that are in effect.

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3. Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville

Seagulls on a beach by the ocean..
Source: Flickr/Barbara Brannon

Get off the beaten path in Boca Chica Beach, the southernmost beach in Texas. Located south of the South Padre Island shipping channel, this dog-friendly beach offers warm water, hot weather, and a rustic, undeveloped feeling. Locals love Boca Chica for its quiet and solitude. You may find small groups or families enjoying the water, but it’s not uncommon to have a large stretch of sand to yourself. Bonfires are allowed at Boca Chica without permits, as long as you put out the flames with water before burying the coals. To be safe and help prevent accidental wildfires, ensure that the coals are cool to the touch before you leave.

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4. Padre Balli Park, Padre Island

Sunrise over the ocean.
Source: Flickr/Alex Karis

If you’re staying in the northern part of Padre Island, Padre Balli Park is a great spot for a bonfire. The pet-friendly park, which is popular with surfers, swimmers, and fishermen who come for the nearby Bob Hall Pier, offers plenty of beach space. The beach often comes to life around sunset with groups of people around cozy fires. Permits are not required, but before you join in the fun, be sure you’re compliant with local laws. Start by making sure that the prevailing winds do not exceed 20 miles per hour. Then, choose a spot that’s at least 50 feet from any structure, 75 feet from the dunes, and 25 feet from any vehicle. Finally, dig a fire pit in the sand that’s no larger than 3 feet across. The park also requires that you use wood without nails or screws and that you douse the fire with water after you’re done.

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5. I.B. Magee Beach, Port Aransas

Ocean with rustic beach.
Source: Flickr/jdeeringdavis

Located east of downtown Port Aransas, I.B. Magee Beach offers stunning white sand and gentle waves. During the day, this busy beach buzzes with swimmers and campers; it quiets down after dark, creating a great opportunity for permit-free bonfire gatherings. If you’re traveling in the off-season, it’s a breeze to grab your own private patch of sand. Dogs on leashes are welcome on the beach. The rules for I.B. Magee are the same as Padre Balli Park, but bear in mind that the winds can be significantly stronger at I.B. Magee. Keep your fires far from vegetation, vehicles, and buildings, and remember to dig a fire pit that’s no wider than 3 feet. In addition, you must pack out any burnt residue and replace the sand you removed.

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6. Surfside Beach, Surfside Beach

Ocean and sandy beach
Source: Flickr/Mike Cole

Located just over an hour southwest of Houston, the relaxed community of Surfside Beach is a popular escape for city dwellers. On hot days, the town’s namesake beach fills up quickly with a collection of families and travelers who are attracted by the reasonable prices and friendly vibe. This family-oriented spot allows pets on leashes and features a large drive-on section for ATVs and off-road vehicles. City officials permit bonfires on the beach, as long as they are under control at all times; it’s a good idea to leave one person near the fire to avoid a fine. As with most places along the Texas coast, fires must be under 3 feet long in all directions.

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