On the Gulf of Mexico, about halfway in the lineup of barrier islands between Galveston and South Padre Island, Matagorda has been hammered by storms over the last two centuries – and that, in some ways, has been a blessing. There are no major developments stretching along the shoreline here; instead the island today is a park and wildlife reserve, geared to beachcombers, nature lovers, and those simply seeking a quiet corner of the world.
The only access to Matagorda Island State Park is by boat and ferry (from nearby Port O’Connor), and facilities are mostly limited to primitive campsites. The trade-off? Some 38 miles of mostly empty, windswept dunes and beaches (the park offers shelling and beachcombing tours), plus another 30 or so miles of shell-paved roadways for hiking and biking.
There are few traces of the past here: An 1852 lighthouse, the faint traces of Civil War trenches near what was once a Confederate garrison, and a small graveyard. And, of course, nature’s past, a timeless, shifting landscape of sand.