Explore San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas

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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 Coasttwo boys playing in the waves and watching ships on San Jose Island beach in Port Aransas, Texas

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 AransasJetty Boat at Fisherman's Wharf in Port A

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. San Jose Island, or Saint Joe's Island, a 5 minute ferry ride from Port Aransas beaches


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 WharfFisherman's Wharf in Port A on Texas Gulf Coast

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. family fun on Jetty Boat ride from Port A to San Jose Island in Texas

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 Adock on Saint Joe's Island in Port Aransas, Texas

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. San Jose Island Beach on Texas Gulf Coast

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… washed up bouy on San Jose Island in Texas

To an old boat that looked like it'd seen better days… abandoned boat on Saint Joe's Island in Port A on Texas beach

To the waves rolling in from the Gulf of Mexicoboys playing in the waves on San Jose Island beach, watching the ships go by out in the ocean

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. Liberty Glory ship sailing past San Jose Island in Port Aransas harbor on Texas coast

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. sand dollars found on San Jose Island in Port Aransas on Texas coast

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. San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas

Eventually, we caught the Jetty Boat back to Port A. Jetty Boat docked on San Jose Island, waiting for passengers

Reluctant to leave, we made a vow to return again soon. riding the ferry from San Jose Island back to Port A

Though next time, we'll stay even longer and explore even farther.

Things to know before you go to San Jose Island, Texas:

mossy log on San Jose Island beach

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?

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.

Explore San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas
San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas
wild, uninhabited San Jose Island in Port A, Texas
old bouy washed up on San Jose Island beach
Jetty Boat at Fisherman's Wharf in Port A
play and explore on San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas

15 thoughts on “Explore San Jose Island in Port Aransas, Texas”

  1. What a beautiful island. I found it particularly exciting that you found sand dollars. Nobody in Great Britain has heard of them. I did a knitting pattern for them, and a lovely American lady sent me a box of them that sit on the mantlepiece in my sewing room.

    • Ginny, I didn’t know you didn’t have sand dollars in Great Britain; that is amazing that she sent those to you. Do you guys have seashells, or conch shells? I may have to keep this in mind when we go back to the shore and save you a few shells/sand dollars, if we find some more.:) Finding a sand dollar is almost like finding gold to my kids. They absolutely love it, and it’s such a treat.

    • Tonya, you would love Port Aransas. We want to go back. Golf carts in the streets, fish ‘n’ chips at one of the local seafood restaurants, and beautiful beaches.:) Our kids are so happy when we’re on the shore.

  2. Wow! I didn’t know there are beautiful beach islands in Texas. And this in San Jose I think is a perfect place to relax and enoy the sun. The picture of the boat you showed I think is cool and I hope me and my family can ride it to explore the beautiful place. I just want to relax from all the hard days work and this is where I want to go and spend time with my family. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I’m so happy that I stumbled across your blog. My family and I are taking a spontaneous weekend trip to the area. I was reading up on what to do and saw a mention of San Jose Island. I searched for more info and found you. I love, love, love hunting for seashells. It’s been a really long time since I’ve discovered any sand dollars…about 27 years. We are totally gonna visit this island!

  4. Hi Mel, Thank you for your detailed blog on San Jose Island. I’m heading to PA in February as a solo traveler. Being a woman, would you take this adventure on your own (safety)? Thanks again! Deb

    • Deb, there were quite a few other families and travelers who got off the boat right along with us. The island really had no trees, from what I can remember, and was fairly open in terms of being able to see for a long distance. And you can see the island from Port A. I think if I were going solo, I’d gauge the atmosphere of the other travelers going with me… You’ll be able to see who all is getting on the boat with you. But we felt completely safe, and I had no qualms for my husband and I with our two kids. I think I would just try to gauge whether or not I felt safe before getting off on the island because you have the option of staying on the boat and going back to Port A. It’s a very short ride. I do wish you all the best! I hope you have a wonderful time.

  5. My husband and I are planning to visit San Jose Island this summer when we go to Rockport for our vacation. So glad to have found your blog with more information about the island!!

  6. Port A is my hometown and I go back as much as possible. St Jose Island is a must do for anyone visiting. We go every time we go back to visit family. Fishermans Wharf has the best people for any fishing trips as well.

  7. Mel, awesome blog. Thanks for all the info. Do you know if they allow people to kayak to the island and about how far is it from Port A? Thanks

    • Stephen, thank you! I don’t know; that’s a really good question. It’s a pretty busy channel area between Port A. and the island, with ships coming in and out, so I’m not sure if they’d allow kayaks or not. It’s literally yards from Port A., just across a small channel. It’s not far at all; I think it took us 5-10 minutes to get there.


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