The first time we went to the beach we had a 4WD so we weren’t too concerned about getting stuck. We soon realized that any car can drive on most Texas Gulf beaches – 4WD not required. This is because the beaches are hard packed sand most of the time. We have only seen undriveable soft sand once at Freeport, but we simply drove a little further and used a different access road.
At the moment we are driving a big, heavy 2WD conversion van which we have taken to many different beaches with no concern at all. You’ll soon find that just about any car can travel the hard-packed beaches of the Texas gulf. We’ve seen sports cars, 2WD’s, 4WD’s motorcycles, motorhomes, and even semi-trucks.
On Bolivar Peninsula it’s not uncommon to find washouts across the beach caused by ground water flowing into the Gulf. We have found these to always be hard-packed and driveable. I even saw a motorhome towing a car drive thru one. If you don’t have a 4WD go thru the shallowest water which I’ve found is often nearest the surf. I usually follow other vehicle’s tracks, but if I’m not sure I get out and test to make sure it’s driveable.
If you do encounter soft sand, don’t panic. If you’re not in too deep, stop and back out. But if you find yourself in soft sand, try and maintain forward momentum and gradually drive out of it, keeping your wheels as straight as possible. You might need to accelerate hard, but don’t spin the tires too much or you’ll make the situation worse. Forward momentum is your friend and as long as you are moving and heading toward firm sand you should be ok.
If you do get stuck in soft sand, try rocking back and forth to get out. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to dig or get a tow. If there is no-one to tow you out, try lowering tire pressure. Sometimes that’s enough to get the vehicle to float to the top of the sand. If you do lower your tire pressure, get them aired back up before you get up to speed on the roads.
If you get caught by a tide and are stuck near the surf, you’re in trouble. Get some help from a 4WD or a tow truck ASAP before the car gets washed away. What happens is the surf washes the sand out from under the tires and gradually buries the vehicle til it is sitting on the frame. This is a big problem.
I’ll post more about sand driving and getting unstuck in later posts. For now, know that driving on Texas beaches is a bunch of fun and you have to try it.