The beaches on the Gulf Coast of Texas, including Padre Island, are known for their soft gray sand and tranquility. They are popular among tourists and locals for swimming, surfing, fishing, beach combing, flying kites, and just relaxing on the beach. Horses can often be seen roaming along the shoreline on Padre Island National Seashore, where horseback riding is a popular activity. There are 3 major scenic beach communities that are suitable for equestrian rides. We recommend horseback riding in organized groups during sunset or sunrise tours for the best experiences.
Legality and safety precautions
Unless it is explicitly permitted, you should always assume that horse riding is not allowed. To ensure, please consult the local coast guard, ask a lifeguard or call the responsible jurisdiction. In general secluded, spacious beaches with few tourists are more likely to permit horse riding; luckily the Texan coastline is scattered with such beaches.
There are also dangers associated with riding on a beach. Sand that is too hard, too deep, or too soft can injure your horse’s ankles. If the sand is sinking or has mud characteristics, you should avoid galloping at all costs.
To avoid liability and get the best experience, equestrian tours organized by local guides are an attractive option.
1. Horseback Riding on South Padre Island
South Padre Island is a fantastic beach getaway that offers plenty of family-friendly activities. Besides all the fun watersports, you can also check “horseback riding on a beach” off your bucket list. Whether you already have a horse or want to join a tour group, it is completely legal to ride horses on the beaches in South Padre Island. The expansive, flat, and dense white sand of South Padre Island is ideal for providing safe and scenic rides that both you and your horse will enjoy. Just beware that some Beaches, such as the ones on Edwin King Atwood Park, also permit vehicles, so always look around to avoid your horse getting startled.
On South Padre Island, there are two major equestrian companies that offer horseback tours.
South Padre Island Adventure Park
This adventure park is the go-to tour operator for horseback excursions on South Padre Island. They offer plenty of family-friendly activities and thrills, such as parasailing. You can find more information about their horseback ride packages here. Here’s what you can expect in a nutshell:
- Helpful and responsible guides that also serve as fantastic photographers during sunset rides.
- Well-trained horses that seem to enjoy the excursions just as much
- If you are comfortable on a horse, the guides will permit you to ride more freely than other operators
- The ride features stunning views of South Padre Island.
- It is slightly expensive the hour long rides can cost more than 100$.
- Age restrictions: Must be 6 years or older.
- Weight restrictions: must weigh less than 300 pounds.
South Padre Island Equestrian and Events Centre
Unfortunately, we can only recommend this place if you are flexible and not on a tight schedule. The operators tend to cancel excursions at the last minute or without notice.
Pud the owner, has a skill in reading people and knows his horses well, so he pairs them up wisely in a way that both experienced horse riders, and beginners will have a fun ride. The guide is kind, considerate, and knows to engage his guests. Guests are not allowed to bring their own horses to the tour for legal reasons. We suggest coming a bit earlier so you can feed the horses with carrots and become familiar with them.
2. Beaches on North Padre Island near Corpus Christi
A good beach for horseback riding should have firm, compact sand that is easy for the horses to walk on. It should also have an open expanse of beach without too many obstacles or obstructions. The spread-out, flat beaches of North Padre Island near Corpus Christi offer these qualities and are an ideal spot to enjoy a slow-paced, relaxing horse ride. There are miles of uninterrupted shoreline that are never crowded. This makes horse riding here particularly beginner-friendly.
Horses on the Beach
This is the only operator we know of that offers horseback riding tours on North Padre ISland. You can book a one hour tour or a sunset ride online. The owner of this tour company is also the owner of T&D adventure park and has been offering equestrian rides on Texan beaches for over three decades. They have almost 200 well-trained horses. Besides Corpus Christi, they also have another location further up north near Matagorda with identical services.
- Age requirement: 8+ years old
- Duration: 1 hour for the standard ride and 1,5 hours for the sunset ride.
- $79 per person for the 1-hour standard ride
- $109 per person for the sunset ride
3. Horseback Riding near Houston and Galveston
Surfside Beach near Galveston offers a unique horseback riding experience. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, riders have the opportunity to trot along the sandy beach and take in beautiful ocean views. Horseback riding on Surfside Beach is a fun and memorable activity for both experienced and novice riders. So saddle up and hit the beach for an unforgettable ride. The tranquility and beauty of the beach make it perfect for tourists who want to have an intimate horseback riding experience with their friends or loved ones. Besides equestrian tours, the small beach community is also frequented for fishing, swimming, beach combing, surfing, jogging, and camping.
Beach Bum Horse Rides
Beach Bum Horse Rides is one of two companies near Galveston that offers equestrian tours. Unfortunately, they do not offer sunset rides and have strict age and weight requirements. The horse’s interest is the highest priority, and the guides go the extra mile to ensure every guest is coupled with the ideal horse based on their personality. The route runs along a long stretch of beach that frequently enters the water. The morning tours are particularly calming, as Surfside Beach is virtually empty around that time!
- 210lbs weight limit. This is for the horse’s safety
- 10+ years old
- No galloping allowed
- Morning rides only, that start at 9am
- $80 per person/horse/hour (2 horses minimum)
- Sometimes the rides get postponed due to weather. This is also in the horse’s best interest.
Galveston Island Horse and Pony Rides
The experienced and professional staff at Galveston Island Horseback Riding offers horseback riding tours along the beach on well-behaved, easy-going horses. GIHPR is a company with a long history that was founded by local Galvestonians with a deep passion for horses and the Texan Gulf Coast. The guide, Preston is a friendly and helpful horseman and always ensures that both the horse and its rider have a fun and safe experience.
The riding trail at East Beach offers beautiful views of the sea turtle and seabird sanctuary, as well as the south jetty and natural lagoon. Along the shoreline, you may spot dolphins. Rainbows are not a rare occurrence either. This trail is a must-ride for any nature lover visiting the island.
- Reservations are required. You can make one online.
- Hours of operation:
- Wednesday and Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm during Summer and Spring-Break
- Friday to Sunday, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm during off season
- If you are less than 5 rides, you don’t need to pay in advance
- Prices per person:
- $60 for 30 minutes
- $80 for 80 minutes
- $100 for a 60-minute private ride during sunset
- $20 for kids younger than 6 accompanied by adults
- Military personnel, police officers, and first responders get discounts