St. Jo’s (San Jose Island)- A Shelling Paradise

San José Island

Welcome to St. Jo’s Island Texas – the best-kept secret on the Texas coastline. This little island is filled with sandy beaches, breathtaking sunsets, and plenty of fun for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an adventure-filled weekend, St. Jo’s Island is the perfect spot for you.

Do some fishing at the marina, take a kayak tour around the island, or just soak up the sun on the gorgeous beaches. Plus, they’ve got some of the best seafood you’ll ever try – from fresh catches to decadent desserts. So come join us on St. Jo’s Island for an unforgettable vacation!

A trip to the beach without finding shells is a disappointing experience. Our family rarely had luck shelling in Port Aransas until, happily, we discovered St. Jo’s Island (also known as St. Joe’s Island, St. Joseph’s Island, and San Jose Island). This off-the-beaten-path destination can only be reached by the Jetty Boat from Port A’s Fisherman’s Wharf – about $10 for adults; $5 for kids. The ride over is about 10 minutes.

St. Joe’s is uninhabited and privately owned but open to the public for swimming, surfing, fishing, relaxing, and shell collecting. Take water, sunscreen, plastic buckets for your shells, and whatever else you’re willing to lug around – and use the restroom before getting on the boat. No facilities of ANY kind on the island.

My kids were thrilled with the discoveries they made along the beach – sand dollars, lightning whelks (the state shell of Texas), and other sea creatures whose names I don’t know. Interesting pieces of driftwood can also be found. On one trip we found a live starfish that had washed up on the shore (yes, we threw him back in). Sand crabs – some good-sized ones at that – will wander the shoreline with you. Good finds can also be gathered back near the grassy sand dunes, but don’t let the kids wander off too far as they may encounter snakes.

Some say the fall (especially November) is the best time for shelling on St. Joe’s – we had a very successful trip last October. Our summer trip, however, was also enjoyable and productive. My family plays a “game” to see who can find the most interesting or unusual item, with each member’s most-prized discovery revealed right before we return to the boat.

St. Joe’s has a colorful history. Many treasure chests are reportedly buried somewhere on the island. The treasure is attributed to the pirate Jean Laffite, who roamed the Gulf of Mexico in the early 1800s. You never know what you might stumble upon. Since the island is privately owned, no government department cleans the beach on a regular basis. The trash that is there has washed up from offshore. Please don’t leave anymore.

A trip to St. Joe’s can be part of a longer beach vacation, but we’ve also made it a day trip from San Antonio. We’ve never been disappointed, and our china cabinet proudly displays the many treasures we’ve found there.