Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area
Port O'Connor, Texas (Calhoun County)

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About the Wildlife Management Area

Matagorda Island Lighthouse
U.S. Coast Guard photo
Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area covers 56,688 acres and is managed jointly by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a crucial sanctuary for migratory bird species. Nineteen state or federally-protected species inhabit Matagorda Island, including whooping cranes and peregrine falcons. More than 300 bird species have been noted in the area.

Officially designated the Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge and State Natural Area, the island is isolated and free of "modern conveniences" such as electricity, water or telephone service. Visitors are rewarded with opportunities for primitive camping, hiking, seasonal hunting, fishing, bicycling, birding, swimming, wildlife observation and nature study. A kayak trail, self-guided nature trail and the historic Matagorda Island Lighthouse (28.337889 Latitude, -96.42408 Longitude) are accessible to visitors. Additionally, all 38 miles of beach and 32 miles of paved roads are accessible to hikers and bicyclists on the island. Camping is restricted to designated campsites, which are available on a first come, first served basis (no reservations available.)

In addition to abundant bird species, numerous snake and reptile species also occur on the island, as well as more common wildlife such as white-tail deer, javelina, coyote, raccoon, and jackrabbit. Bottlenose dolphins may be seen during the boat trip to the island. Fishing the waters surrounding the island may yield red drum, spotted sea trout, tarpon, shark and mackerel.

Visitors to the island should be completely self-sufficient. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, adequate sun protection, and insect repellent. Check weather and tide conditions and forecasts and plan accordingly. Absolutely no private aircraft or motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.

Park Ratings

Explanation of Symbols
Campsites/Overnight Facilities* 1 star
Leashed Pets Permitted? UNK
Picnic Areas/Playgrounds* 1 star
Solitude**** 4 star
Trail System**** 4 star
Water Recreation**** 4 star
Wildlife**** 4 star
Ratings are based on a scale of 0 (low) to 4 (high).

Wild Texas Notebook

The Matagorda Island Lighthouse is a 92-foot-tall structure built by the Republic of Texas in 1852. Despite damage sustained from the Civil War, hurricanes and coastal erosion, the lighthouse has remained standing. Thanks to the Matagorda Island Foundation's efforts, the lighthouse is actively being restored and was relit on December 31, 1999.


The Matagorda Island headquarters and information center is located in Port O'Connor on the Intercoastal Canal (I/C).

The island's boat dock is accessible 11 miles south of Port O'Connor via private boat or charter boat only. NOTE: There is no causeway, highway, bridge, vehicular or passenger ferry or public airport providing access to the Island.

The nearest major Texas cities are: Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston

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Coordinates for GPS Users:

28.3326869° Latitude    -96.4637911° Longitude (WGS84/NAD83; decimal degrees)
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Recreation facilities on the north end of the island, managed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, are open 7 days a week year-round.

Facilities on the south end of the island, managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, are by reservation only for formal environmental education studies and workshops.


There is no park entrance fee. Fees for charter boats vary, and should be obtained by contacting the Port O'Connor Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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Official Contact Information

The Wildlife Management Area is managed by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area

Matagorda Island, TX
Telephone: (979)244-7697