The beaches are a unblemished paradise. Beyond the customary seashells, there are a variety of treasures to be found, from driftwood, to bottles, to sand dollars, to old Spanish coins. There are 22 miles of beach accessible by vehicle with a $6 permit and a half mile pedestrian beach. The remaining 35 miles of beach are only accessible by boat. There are great beach house rentals for large or small groups. Great for a family vacation or reunion. Tent camping is also allowed on Matagorda Beach. For those wanting some adventure there is another 33 miles of beach accessible by boat. So bring your boat or contact the local rental agency in Matagorda to assist you with finding a guide.
Matagorda Birding & Nature
Birdwatching is a serious sport along the Gulf Coast . Other local creatures, great and small, include deer, porpoises, alligators, and mosquitoes (yes, bring some repellent). If birding is your passion then Matagorda will provide the ultimate birding experience. A diverse collection of rare breeds of birds tend to gather in Matagorda County, Matagorda County’s Mad Island Marsh Preserve is the champion of the event for North American species, a title its held since 1997. The Birding Nature Center of Matagorda County spans 34 acres on the Colorado River and offers you and your family or group a variety of ways to enjoy nature. A bird watching area which is part of “The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail” is found on Matagorda Peninsula running from Sargent to Pass Cavallo. For map and trail sites visit Great Texas Wildlife Trails.
The shoreline of the bay is included in the Texas Coastal Plain. At the eastern end, near the Colorado River, there is a swampy terrain, with an abundance of wetlands and tidal marshes. Extended coastal prairies supporting native grasses, can be found throughout the area. On average, the Matagorda Bay system is 6.6 ft. deep, and covers approximately 422 sq mi. It is the third largest estuarine system in Texas behind Galveston Bay and Laguna Madre.
A wide variety of wildlife can be found in and around Matagorda Bay. The Mad Island-Oyster Lake conservation area, located on the eastern shore of Matagorda Bay, is a habitat for over 300 species of birds including songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. More species of birds were found in the area than any other in the nation during the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas bird count from 2000 to 2002. Other fauna located along the bay include Bobcats, White-tailed deer, River otters, Texas horned lizards, Reddish egret, White-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, the piping plover and alligators.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the following fish have been caught in the bay: Striped Bass, Gafftopsail catfish, Atlantic croaker, Black drum, Red drum, Southern flounder, Barred grunt, Hake, Skipjack herring, Crevalle jack, Ladyfish, Gulf menhaden, Pigfish, Smooth puffer, Sand seatrout, Spotted seatrout, Blacktip shark, Gray snapper, Southern stingray, Gulf toadfish, Tripletail. The Matagorda Bay system is a renowned fishing location in the region, due to its status as a nutrient-rich estuary. Other activities for visitors include hunting, oyster roasts, beach combing and birding.
Matagorda Fishing & Hunting
Matagorda is a fisherman’s and hunter’s paradise. With more than 50 miles of coastline and literally hundreds of miles of rivers, creeks and bayous, you’ll find every type of habitat for almost any type of fish. Choose from wade fishing, drift fishing, surf fishing or offshore fishing. Visitors will find one of the best trout fishing sites in Texas. Small boats cruise these waters for red drum, spotted sea trout, and tarpon. For the surf-fishermen, miles of beach allow them to stake out their own sand for themselves. Surf fishing is especially good in the Fall. If competition is what you’re looking for, check the local fishing tournaments held seasonally.
Matagorda Harbor opened in 1990 as part of the Mouth of the Colorado River Project, a joint project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Bay City Authority. Over the years the harbor has evolved to meet the needs of both pleasure and commercial traffic along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The Texas A&M Marine Advisory Service classroom vessel Karma is located at Matagorda Harbor. Aboard, students get a hands-on lesson in marine biology.
Skipper’s Bait and Tackle offers fishing supplies, snacks, drinks, ice, and a fuel dock; all adjacent to the premiere fish cleaning station and four paved boat ramps. Covered electric boat lifts make your fishing trip just a turn- of-the-switch away!
The Waterfront Restaurant specializes in steaks, seafood, burgers, and has the only full bar in
Matagorda on the Colorado River
The LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park, a 1,600-acre park and preserve is at the mouth of the Colorado River on the Matagorda Peninsula. This unique park and preserve is dedicated to providing recreation, education, preservation and economic benefit to the region. The park has something for everyone. Enjoy fishing, camping, picnicking, canoeing, bird watching, beach combing, swimming or just relaxing. Click here for community programs offered by Matagorda Bay Nature Parks.
Mad Island Wildlife Management Area is a 7,200 acres of coastal wetland habitat set aside for wintering waterfowl. Hunting for alligators, feral hogs and waterfowl is permitted through special scheduled hunts.
Matagorda Kayak Excursions
Enjoy total tranquility and nature at its finest in stunning Matagorda. Our guided wetland kayak tours accommodate all skill levels and provide paddling instructions for the beginner. This is a wonderful way to relax, commune with nature and learn about LCRA’s efforts to protect and conserve the lower Colorado River and surrounding natural resources. Visit the LCRA for more outdoor programs at Matagorda Bay Nature Park.
When Lone Star surfers head to “Gorda” for some of the Gulf Coast’s best waves, they actually have in mind the Matagorda sandbars near the mouth of the Colorado River on the mainland. But some take a boat to nearby Matagorda Island, where miles of unnamed beach breaks await. For more information visit the Matagorda page on Surfing in Texas.
La Salle Odyssey The Matagorda County Museum tells the story of the incredible excavation of La Belle. The exhibit has many artifacts from the excavation including one fo the three bronze cannon recovered. The Palacios Area Museum shows the roll that the town of Palacios and its residents played in the search for La Belle and the recovery. A half-scale replica ship of La Salle’s La Belle can be seen at the South Bay Marina in Palacios.
For information on Matagorda an where to stay contact Full Stringer to talk with David or Jody Cassady. They know and love the Texas Gulf Coast and with their knowledge of Matagorda and the surrounding areas they can assist you with planning a visit.