Galveston vs Port Aransas: Is Galveston or Port Aransas Better?

When RV owners talk on their different discussion forums, they often use abbreviations. Unfortunately, those abbreviations can refer to two different spots in the same state or area. Port A refers to both Port Arthur and Port Aransas, so be careful when reading those forums.

This is a matter of preference. Some people like Galveston and that may be due to the Glen Campbell connection or they like Port Aransas because it is not as much of a tourist trap as Galveston has become. Some people like both spots.

To learn which one is better, just continue to read our article. It provides the best information possible so you can make a good vacation decision. Both locations have their good and bad points. Who knows you may be one of the few that will like Galveston.

Is Port Aransas Or Galveston Better For Vacation?


We are not taking the easy route when we say this is up to your preferences and what you want to do with your vacation. We just know that different people enjoy different things as well as different cities.

In one poll, Galveston was ranked number one because it is a place that is designed for tourists and there is a lot to do in the city. Back in the late 1800s, it was the largest city in Texas and had one of the largest ports in the country.

This was destroyed by the Galveston hurricane n the early 1900s. What replaced the destruction were lots of restaurants, beautiful Victorian homes, and a great boardwalk. Plus, you have lots of people around you.

On the other hand, Port Aransas is a quiet little town and the only city on Mustang Island. If you want peace and quiet, this may be the best option for the two cities.

While Port Aransas is a town that relies on tourists, there are still things to do that avoid those tourist traps Galveston is famous for. Which city is better for a vacation? The answer is what do you want to do while you are away from home?

Both have excellent year-round weather, so you can enjoy your time no matter which city you pick.

Galveston vs Port Aransas Pros And Cons

1. Galveston


  • Has a unique history with pirates, civil war battles, and much more
  • Has some great restaurants when you do not want to cook
  • There are some great places to stay when you want to get out of your RV
  • Lots of things to do including the boardwalk
  • Has great weather for most of the year so traveling in the off-season can be nice
  • Lots of historical buildings to go visit


  • the beach is not that great and the sand is a weird color
  • lots of seaweed, shells, and the possibility of encountering jelly fish
  • has some gritty areas you would be best to avoid
  • the water is not crystal clear so you have to watch yourself as you swim and walk in the water

2. Port Aransas


  • Beautiful beaches and scenery but of course, you are on an island and not the mainland
  • It is an affordable place to visit as the top restaurants are very competitive and offer reasonable prices
  • Many things to do in this area besides swimming and walking along the beach
  • The off-season is very uncrowded giving you lots of space to roam and move about
  • Need a ferry to get to the city which cuts down on traffic, etc.


  • - the seaweed, almost everyone complained about the amount of it on the beach and in the water
  • small, isolated, and not for everyone
  • you can encounter strong winds, high humidity, and frequent storms depending on the time of year you visit

This is just a sample of the pros and cons you will run into when you visit either city. Your vacation will depend on what you like the most. Port Aransas is not a large city, it only has about 3100 residents which may deter some people from visiting this quaint town.

Port Aransas is not the easiest to get to and you should check with the ferry service about bringing your RV or trailer over to the island. There may be some weight and size restrictions.

You may not get the variety that you would in Galveston, but you would get some great quiet time and you get close to nature which you can’t do in Galveston.

Is Port Aransas Beach Water Clear?


According to the Port Aransas website, the waters around Mustang island and this town are fairly clear. The average water temperature is about 84.5 degrees F and you will run into some waves.

Then the water quality is tested weekly with the results published in the Texas General Land Office. You can view the results for different beaches at this link. There are some things to be wary of and one is the flag warning system

Those flags will warn you about currents and rip tides which seem to be strongest around structures and not the open water. But familiarize yourself with the water conditions so you can swim safely.

If you go in the off-season to this town, then be forewarned lifeguards are not going to be on duty. These men and women will be working only between March 4th and October 31st.

Then you will only find them between markers F and 17. To be safe make sure you know their hours and where they are located. The link to the website has a rip current safety video you should watch.

Part of having a great time on vacation is knowing what to do when an emergency situation rises.

What is Port Aransas Known For?


The number one thing it is famous for is peace and quiet. While there are entertainment options available, if you want to rest and lower your blood pressure, this is the location to camp.

Once you arrive, you are well away from any large city and the noise those larger cities produce. Then, the off-season should be even quieter as there will be far fewer people enjoying the surrounding area.

But there are other activities this location is famous for. They are as follows:

1. Fishing- Aransas has the reputation for being the capital of fishing in Texas. One reason fishing is so famous is that you can fish from the shore or go out into the ocean waters or fish in the bays and channels in the surrounding area.

However you like to fish, you can find that option in this town. Pier fishing is also an option you can try. Plus, during the summer months, there is roughly a fishing tournament every week for all age groups and genders.

2. Different activities- Port Aransas has become a mecca for those who like to do a variety of activities while on vacation. When you want to slow down, there is Captain Kirk’s Tiki Cruise or the Pirates Cruise to choose between.

Or if you want to tour a museum, the U.S.S. Lexington museum is located on this island. Then there is bad news for all the golf widows. This island does have a top golf course on it.

Golfers can enjoy the beautiful weather and the sea air as they get a round of golf in while on vacation. There is one other unique and nice activity that is available in Port Aransas.

There is what is called the chapel on the beach. If you want to renew your vows or marry your partner, here is a romantic spot to do it in. Plus, it is unique compared to the many Las Vegas and Reno chapels. There are more water and other activities you can do when you visit this island.

3. Shopping- not to be left out, there are lots of quaint shops for those shopaholics that like to look at and buy interesting items. The shopping options include boutiques, small shops, and even galleries.

All of these places have souvenirs, home decorating ideas, as well as some great island fashions. No one should be disappointed when they visit this island getaway.

4. Dining experience- the island is also home to some of the better fine dining establishments. You may not get a Michelin 5-star restaurant but the food will still be good.

Or you can just go to one of the many casual restaurants and experience the local cuisine. One thing is for certain, you will not run out of dining-out options in Port Aransas.

5. Nature adventures- when you are tired out from all those other activities, including swimming, there is a lot of nature right at your fingertips in this town. This starts with dolphin cruises.

Watch the dolphins at play or just enjoy the sea breeze. Then you can go over to the Amos Rehabilitation Keep and learn about sea turtles and marine birds.

But that is not the only nature experience you can get here. There are lots of boardwalks to stroll down, hiking trails, bird watching areas (6 of them), or just do some beachcombing and see what you can find.

6. The nightlife-once the sun sets, the fun does not have to stop. Not everyone is into the nightlife but at Port Aransas, it is a viable option. You can relax from your day’s activities and just let your hair down for a few hours.

The nightly options include the theater, clubs, and live music venues.

Camping At Port Aransas

Since most of our readers own RVs and trailers, a word or more needs to be said about RV camping at the beach in this city. Here are the beach rules for camping which come from the Port Aransas website linked to earlier:

- RV Camping, tent camping, and other non-self-contained camping are permitted anywhere on the beach.

- Only motorized vehicles are required to have a parking permit. Pull-behind trailers do not require a separate permit.

- Camping is prohibited within 25 feet of either edge of the obvious driving lane and in any location that would impede traffic or create an unsafe condition.

- Camping is also prohibited within 200 feet of any beach access road and within 50 feet of the water's edge.

- Tent camping is prohibited landward of the bollards and south of the last city-approved lavatory facility.

- No camping is allowed on the county portion of the beach, from the south jetty to Mile Marker E.

- There is a three-night limit for camping during any three-week period.

We highlighted the last rule to make sure you understand the stay restriction.

Parking Permits

Rule number two states all motorized vehicles require a parking permit. These cost $12 and they are good for up to one year. The website states they are only good from January 1st to December 31st of the year they were purchased.

There are some free parking spots you may be able to find but space is limited and it is first come first serve. The permit parking is between Markers 0 through 62, while the free parking is between mile markers 52 and 58.

All the details are found on the Port Aransas website, make sure to read everything carefully so you can have a wonderful vacation visiting that town.

Some Final Words

Determining which is the better vacation spot is difficult. Everyone has their own preferences and opinions on what makes one spot better than another. If you like cities and what comes with them, then Galveston will be better for you.

If you want a more back-to-nature vacation, then check out Port Aransas. Just do not confuse it with Port Arthur. One good thing about Port Aransas is that leashed pets are allowed as are smaller fires.

You can get the full vacation experience at Port Aransas.

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