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San Jose Island in Port Aransas is an uninhabited island you can only travel to by ferry. Explore the island, play on the beach, and collect sand dollars!
While doing a little research before we traveled to Port Aransas Beach a few years ago, I came upon an island everyone said was a must see place. San Jose Island, or Saint Joe's Island, is a wild uninhabited piece of coastline on the Texas Gulf Coast.
San Jose Island, Texas, is a beautiful natural island; it's privately owned, free of vehicles, about 2 miles wide at its widest point, and about 21 miles long. There are no shelters of any kind, but you may see the occasional cow roaming about.
The only way to get to the island is to take the Jetty Boat from Fisherman's Wharf, Port Aransas.
It's one of our favorite things to do in Port Aransas besides hanging out on beautiful Port Aransas beaches, and believe me, there are a LOT of fun things to do and explore in this amazing Texas beach town.
I know things may have changed since we were there, especially after Hurricane Harvey; but I'm anxious to go back and explore some more.
Getting to San Jose Island by the Jetty Boat
We decided to spend half a day on the island and explore, play in the ocean, and just like on Sanibel Island, hunt for sand dollars and sea shells. We bought our tickets at Fisherman's Wharf.
There were a few people making the short journey with us. You can actually see the island from Port Aransas; it's only a 5 minute ride.
Exploring Saint Joe's Island in Port A
When we arrived, there were a handful of people waiting to take the Jetty Boat back to Port A.
We walked along the edge of the water until we came to the Gulf side of the island and then were able to walk along the shoreline.
The shoreline itself was absolutely beautiful, and the water was as warm as bath water.
While visitors are restricted to the beach, I will say that if you're going to explore past the line of seaweed on the upper edge of the shore, I recommend wearing shoes or flip flops; don't go barefoot. Trash and other objects tend to wash up from the ocean.
We settled in a spot with our towels and things we'd brought over to the island with us. We were mesmerized and walked and walked along the shoreline.
Photo Opps and Treasures on San Jose Island
There were so many beautiful photo opps, from this washed up buoy…
To an old boat that looked like it'd seen better days…
To the waves rolling in from the Gulf of Mexico.
It was a cloudy day, but even so, the ocean was gorgeous and warm.
Closer to the harbor end of the island, ships sailed in and out, dolphins swimming right in front of or beside them. There was a lot of traffic in and out of the harbor.
Walking up and along the shoreline, we found quite a few sand dollars and smaller sea shells; Jacob got so excited with every sand dollar we found. They were really small and cute; we'd find broken pieces of larger sand dollars too.
I love raising explorers; I hope my boys stay that way their entire lives.
Our visit to the island was so relaxing and quiet; there were not a lot of other people, and the people that were there were enjoying the solitude of the Texas Gulf Coast just as much as we were.
Eventually, we caught the Jetty Boat back to Port A.
Reluctant to leave, we made a vow to return again soon.
Though next time, we'll stay even longer and explore even farther.
Things to know before you go to San Jose Island, Texas:
There are a few things you should know before you plan a trip to San Jose Island in Port Aransas.
- You can catch a boat to the island via Fisherman's Wharf in Port Aransas. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids.
- There are daily departure times, as well as return times, to choose from when planning your visit. Once you are on the island, you'll be there for at least 2 hours before the ferry returns to pick you up; but you can stay longer.
- Activities on San Jose Island include spectacular birding, fishing, crabbing, hunting for sea shells and sand dollars, and of course, the beach.
- The island is privately owned and needs to be respected as such; visitors are not permitted above the vegetation line, meaning you must stay on the beach.
- Fisherman's Wharf offers pull carts you can rent to carry your stuff over to the island with you.
- You may want to consider a baby carrier backpack or a sturdy wagon over a stroller if you're traveling with a baby or toddler.
- There are no bathrooms on the island, so plan accordingly.
- Pack food and drinks (including water bottles) with you in a small cooler, along with everything you'll need… Again, there are no shelters or facilities of any kind on the island.
- Wear sandals, water shoes, or flip flops. Trash and things can wash up from the ocean, so you'll want to be careful.
- Bring your own umbrella and beach chairs.
- You are permitted to collect sea shells and sand dollars you find. Bring a bucket because you'll likely need it!
- Leave no trace. Always pack out what you pack in. Please leave the island the way you found it.
Looking for more Gulf Coast adventures?
- Port Aransas Beach in Port Aransas, Texas
- Hit the Beach at Padre Island National Seashore
- Why a Vacation Rental is the Best Way to Enjoy Florida's Gulf Coast
- Beach Day Bliss on Captiva Island
- Seashells and Sunset on Sanibel Island
Have you been to San Jose Island in Port A? Tell us about your experience!
Update Notes: This post was originally published in 2013, but was re-published with bigger photos and more details in July of 2018.