Saturday, March 25, 2023

Free Beach Camping at Magnolia Beach

 Location: Magnolia Beach, Port Lavaca, Texas

When planning this trip, I had two days that I couldn't find reservations for in between the last campground at Goose Island and the next campground at Mustang Island. My original plan was to stay at the Padre Island National Seashore at Malaquite Campground for those two days. It is a first come, first serve, $7.00/night boondocking campground. It is about 20 miles from Corpus Christi and the last time I visited it I was camped at Mustang Island. It was worth the drive to spend the day and I put the campground on my list of future places to camp with an asterisk of "no cell service" and if you get there and they're full up, your screwed. So, that was the plan. Spend 5 days at Goose Island, then 2 days at Malaquite, then 5 days at Mustang Island. Big Ut oh, I checked the weather forecast for those two days and it said a high of 97 degrees on Friday and 95 for Saturday. Remember, boondocking means NO Air Conditioning. I'm not a hard core boondocker so I needed to reevaluate my plan. One of the common phrases some RV travelers use is their "plans are made in jell-o", meaning they can change quickly and easily. That phrase made a lot more sense many years ago when very few campgrounds ever reached 100% occupancy. Now-a-days though transient workers use RV's instead of apartments/motels and lots of people are using RV's as a regular place to live instead of renting or buying a house. This has been a boon for campgrounds because they are full most of the time. Other places, like State Parks, are mostly reserved about 6 weeks in advance. Times have changed, so we travelers have to adapt. 

Another campground that has been on my list for a while was Magnolia Beach, which is where I'm camped now. I had planned to stop here for two day in between Mustang Island and Galveston Island. That changed and I came here instead of Malquite. The weather forecast showed Magnoia being 13 degrees cooler than Malaquite and has strong cell phone/internet service. That cinched it for me. My plan officially changed.

Magnoglia beach is owned by Calhoun County and is opened to anyone, free of charge, on a first come, first serve basis. There is room for at least 100 RV's with most being able to camp within 15 feet of the water. The water is a huge bay, named Lavaca Bay. It got hotter than they predicted yesterday after the weather front moved through and the wind stopped blowing. Once the breeze picked back up it became tolerable. Today has been very comfortable with the outside temperature running in the mid to upper 70's and a nice breeze blowing. When I was sweating yesterday, I was thinking about hitching up and finding some electricity, but now I'm glad I didn't.

Once you get to the beach, you just drive along it until you find a spot to pull-in/back-in. There are everything from very large and fancy Class A motorhomes to home-made campers. 

I found a nice spot and although it was a very tight location, I was able to back in without hitting anything. 

This is looking south along the beach. It's not a nice sandy beach for playing or making sand castles, but it is nice for RV's.

You have to bring your own shade, ie. your RV or vehicle. Remember, Port Lavaca is an international port and receives ocean going ships.

The view out my back window.

Sunset on Day 1.

Sunrise on Day 2. Sipping coffee, made using my inverter.

The above is a video to remind me of the sound of the waves when I view it in the future. That sound is what will stick with me after leaving here. Very nice.

I started traveling nine years ago and during that time had only boondocked two times, both in Walmart parking lots on my way back to Louisiana from Idaho. The weather was perfect for it back then and my AGM batteries did just fine for such a short time. However, even after those two times, I never got bitten by the boondocking bug. It just didn't fit my way of traveling and exploring. These two days here at Magnolia still have not convinced me to do more boondocking although I will probably come back here for two more days before getting to Galveston. 

When I ordered Liberty2 back in May of 2022, I did not include the optional solar power package. Well, either good luck or bad luck, Liberty2 was built in the first week of the 2023 model year and the solar package  had become standard equipment. Liberty2 came with a 200 watt solar panel, 30 amp controller and a 2000 watt inverter at no additional cost. After learning that I had solar I thought, well, crap, now I have to learn a little bit about solar. So, I learned the minimum. To "shrinky dink" it down, in my simple mind, solar does two things. One, the panel and controller charges the battery and two, the inverter powers up the 120 volt receptacles so I can make a cup of coffee. So far, everything is working as it should. I have two fans that that helped during the temporary heat wave yesterday but so far today have not needed.  

These two days here at Magnolia have been very peaceful. As I'm writing this post, I can see and hear the waves through my back window as a cross-breeze is blowing through Liberty2. It is a good way to relax and review your life, even without a bench.

Tomorrow is moving day and I have to backtrack a little to get to Mustang Island State Park. 

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe, I'll Cya down the road.


  1. I like to boondock (I'm cheap :-) & solar is magic! Magnolia beach has been on my list for a long time....some day maybe.
    Safe travels & thanks for the great review!

    1. Hello Rob,,, it's good hearing from you. I hope things are going good. Are y'all planning to hit the road in the near future?

  2. As we discussed at lunch, I feel that having having two consecutive days of boondocking ability is fairly important in todays RV world to get you through a crowded weekend. Usually all it takes is a couple of decent batteries to get you to the next full hook ups when plans go astray. As you know I have continuous boondocking ability left over from my start at full time rving 15 years ago. Now days I think it would not be needed for most folks. Have fun as you SAFELY roll again.

  3. I never had a speck of rust on my four-year-old Arctic Fox until I camped on the beach at Padre island, it was great camping, but that rust still causes me problems.... Just something to keep in mind till you can get to a car-wash.


    1. I know what you mean Tom, it's in the back of my mind too. Knowing me though, the next car wash will be a fresh water rain after I get inland.

  4. Good jello change! I like that site.