In Texas, public access to Gulf Coast beaches is not just the law, it is a constitutional right. In fact, walking along the beach in Texas has been a privilege since Texas was a Republic, and the beaches were sometimes the best road between growing trade outposts.
The Texas Land Commissioner, by law, protects this public right for all Texans by enforcing the Texas Open Beaches Act.
Under the Texas Open Beaches Act the public has the free and unrestricted right to access and use the State's beaches, which are located on what is commonly referred to as the "wet beach", from the water to the line of mean high tide. The dry sandy area that extends from the "wet beach” to the natural line of vegetation is usually privately owned but may be subject to the public beach easement.
A recent Texas Supreme Court opinion has complicated the State's ability to use the traditional method for identifying the public beach easement on the west end of Galveston. In order to give some clarity on what the ruling actually means and to address some questions that the public may have, the GLO has developed a Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet.
Houses on the beach
With one of the highest erosion rates in the nation, Texas loses 5-10 feet of beach each year. Since the passage of the Texas Open Beaches Act in 1959, the sea has naturally advanced toward the structures along the Gulf Coast, and in some cases, the homes can create a barrier to access. The Land Office works to strike a balance between private property rights and the public's right to access the beach. Learn More
Local Beach Access Plans
Cities and counties along the coast are required to adopt laws to protect the public's beach access rights. Usually, these local laws are adopted as a dune protection and beach access plan. The state reviews local beach access plans and certifies that they meet the minimum state standards set forth in the General Land Office Beach/Dune Rules. Learn More