South Padre Island,
Located off the
Coast, almost at
South Padre Island has 34 miles of beautiful
shoreline, giving you the ultimate beach resort location. With unspoiled
beaches and warm waters, there's no reason why you wouldn't want one of the
many vacation homes or beach vacation rentals. With only 2,000 residents,
this island, along with nearby towns of
Harlingen and Port Isabel, create a
perfect location for you to simply escape.
Texas “snowbirds” during the winter
months, the area works hard to welcome vacation home owners by creating
special events and activities in the winter. There’s excellent health care
available in nearby
Brownsville and other towns, making it a
great retirement choice. And the natural surroundings are some of the best
unspoiled miles along the
Gulf of Mexico. Finally, if you are looking for
investment opportunities, the strong rental market and relatively low prices
make this a terrific option.
Welcome to South Padre Island Texas!
Beautiful beaches, warm gulf waters, fishing, boating, bird
watching, shopping and a diversity of year-round activities make South Padre
Island one of the fantastic vacation destinations in the world. Check out
our lodging offers on south padre island. South Padre as a destination
weddings location Adds a Taste of Tropical Texas, See if you can fit
everything this tiny island has to offer into one trip! Nature tours,
fishing, surfing, dining - plan ahead so you can fit it all in and still
find time to lie on the beach
Recently named by the Travel Channel as the third-best beach in the
country, South Padre Island offers endless expanses of beautiful sand, warm
Gulf waters, bird watching, deep-sea fishing,
and a wide variety of recreational activities. So whether you prefer to jump
in the water and bodysurf, lounge in a beach chair and watch the surf, or
stay in a luxury hotel and channel surf, South Padre Island is your ideal
While the island itself is a 34-mile-long barrier reef, only a 5-mile
stretch is developed as the official "Town of South Padre Island." The other
29 miles are unspoiled coastal wilderness, full of windswept dunes,
indigenous sea grasses, and native wildlife.
Only half a mile wide at its widest point, South Padre Island offers
visitors easy access to either the warm, wave-free waters of the Laguna
Madre Bay to the west or the ocean surf of the Gulf of Mexico to the east.
Accommodations are even categorized as bay side, Gulf side, or inner island
to help you find your perfect vacation spot. Once you do, get ready to have
At the Beach
begin with the most obvious attraction at South Padre Island-the wide,
clean, soft-sand beach. Unlike some other beaches in Texas, South Padre does
not allow vehicles on the beach. That's a plus not only for aesthetics but
for the environment and overall safety as well. It also means, however, that
you should be prepared to pack a big beach bag!
If you're staying at a Gulf-side hotel, condo, or resort, it's just a
short walk out to find your preferred spot of sand. There are no private
beach areas, so take your pick. To get there from anywhere else, drive along
Gulf Boulevard and look for the "Beach Access" signs. There you'll find free
public parking and convenient wooden bridges leading you directly onto the
The island has two public parks. Isla Blanca Park, at the southern end,
offers RV camping sites, picnic areas, showers, rest rooms, and a snack bar.
Andy Bowie Park, just four miles north of the causeway, offers picnic
pavilions and a children's playground. Both parks charge a small day-use
fee, but for some families the conveniences that the parks offer will be
well worth it.
and umbrellas are a good idea, especially if you plan to spend an entire day
in the sun. Both are available for rent from concessions on the beach,
several of which are run by the beachfront hotels. Besides a chair and an
umbrella, you'll want to bring towels, sunscreen, hats, and some snacks and
refreshments. Glass containers are not allowed on the beach, and all trash
must be taken with you when you leave or deposited in the trash bins
As the sand can get toasty during those long, sunny days, beach shoes or
sandals are a good idea as well-especially if you plan to do any
beachcombing! The tides at South Padre Island bring a fresh batch of
seashells up onto the sand each night, so every day can bring new
For those who prefer to make a beeline for the water, the Gulf of Mexico
is ready and waiting. With water temperatures that range between 65 in the
winter and 85 in the summer, South Padre offers a refreshing dip anytime.
The waves along the beach are a big draw for surfers. Those using a
surfboard tend to prefer the waves at the north jetties, near Isla Blanca
Park. Boogie boards are popular in the shallower waters close to shore, and
bodysurfers can find good wave action almost anywhere.
Another favorite on-the-beach pastime is
building sand castles. You can create your own or take a lesson from a
member of the island's own team of professional sand sculptors, the "Sons of
the Beach Sand Castle Wizards." Team founders Amazing' Walter & sandy feet
have built sand sculptures all over the world and have taught literally
thousands of people how to have more sand castling fun on the beach. To
learn more about sand castle-building lessons, visit
If you can't get enough of that salt-kissed wind in your hair, you might
want to try horseback riding on the beach. An equestrian center at the north
end of town offers horses for beginners and experienced riders alike. No
trail rides or predetermined routes here-just point your horse toward the
beach and "giddyup."
On the Bay
Gulf waters are not the only venue for water sports enthusiasts visiting
South Padre Island. The Laguna Madre Bay, between the island and the Texas
mainland, offers a variety of ways for visitors to enjoy the water without
the big waves.
Perhaps two of the fastest-growing sports at South Padre Island over the
past several years are windsurfing and kiteboarding, and both owe their
popularity to the windswept waters of the Laguna Madre.
Windsurfers head for South Padre to sail the bay because it ranges in
depth from three to five feet, and wind speeds average about 18 miles per
hour. Some of the more experienced windsurfers also test their skills at
other South Padre locations, including the Jetties, Boca Chica, and the
Ditch, site of some of the fastest windsurfing speeds achieved in North
Kiteboarding is a relatively new water sport in the States, and the
Laguna Madre Bay at South Padre Island is widely recognized as one of the
best spots in the country to learn and hone your skills. Imagine standing on
a surfboard and being dragged across the water by a big parachute, and
you've got the general idea. More-experienced boarders perform jumps, flips,
and aerial tricks, making kiteboarding as much fun for the observer as for
Those who want their entertainment to be somewhat less athletic need only
check out the many boat charters available on the bay side. Guided boat
tours leave the bay several times a day for dolphin watches, sunset cruises,
glass-bottom-boat and marine ecology tours, and deep-sea fishing trips.
And Speaking of Fishing . . .
South Padre Island was recently named a Top 20 fishing destination by
Field and Stream magazine! Whether you prefer to
cast your line from a boat, a pier, or standing out in the surf, you'll see
why the island is a favorite with Texas fishing enthusiasts.
In Laguna Madre Bay, speckled trout, redfish, and flounder are daily
catches. A deep-sea charter trip takes you out into the Gulf, where expert
guides can help you tackle an 800-pound marlin or a record-setting Wahoo.
For more information on fishing in and around South Padre Island, go to
Discovering Coastal Wildlife
the sun and the surf get to be a little too intense, South Padre Island
offers an escape into the quiet sand dunes, marshes, and wetlands of the
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
A federal reserve for birds and other area wildlife, the refuge
encompasses 45,000 acres that are a one-of-a-kind blend of temperate,
subtropical, coastal, and desert habitats. It's a unique combination that
attracts a unique array of wildlife and makes the Laguna Atascosa famous
around the world for its bird watching opportunities.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the best viewing times
are early mornings and late afternoons or cool, overcast days. The observant
visitor can expect to see quite a show. Ocelots, Texas tortoises, green
jays, and javelinas prefer the dense, thorny brush land areas of the refuge,
while alligators and black-bellied whistling ducks choose the ponds and
Resaca's. Desert dwellers like roadrunners and cactus wrens inhabit the
scrub areas, while species like roseate spoonbills, egrets, and herons join
black-necked stilts, American avocets, and piping plovers at the shore of
Laguna Madre Bay.
Another opportunity to walk among the wildlife can be found at the Laguna
Madre Nature Trail. This 1,500-foot boardwalk overlooks four acres of
natural wetlands. Although these lands look much different today than they
did when Spanish explorer Alonzo Alvarez de Piñeda arrived in 1519, visitors
can study the dune systems and wildlife habitats and imagine the abundant
wildlife that inhabited the area back then.
If you'd like to help preserve one of the area's currently endangered
species, visit Sea Turtle, Inc. Once the lifework of Ila Loetscher, better
known on the island as the "Turtle Lady," Sea Turtle, Inc., continues Ila's
work, devoting its resources to aid in the protection of the Kemp's Ridley
sea turtle and other marine turtle species. Kids will enjoy the daily "Meet
the Turtles" program, when a volunteer tells visitors about different
species of sea turtles and introduces two or three of the facility's
residents for an up-close-and-personal look at this fascinating animal.
When the Sun Goes Down
Dining and entertainment options abound on the island. Many restaurants
feature outdoor seating and live music, and some go so far as to offer
volleyball courts, swimming pools, and bungee jumping!
The large number of hotels and resorts on South Padre means that there's
always a wide choice of activities, events, shows, and celebrations planned
specifically for family entertainment. Check in with the concierge at your
hotel or look through one of the island's daily or weekly publications for
There are two movie theaters on the island, both featuring first-run
films, and many of the shopping centers are open after dark for those
late-night souvenir hunts.
Other Area Highlights
If the sunburns get a little too bright, or you're just looking for an
afternoon excursion, pack the kids into the Suburban for a short drive to
some of South Padre Island's neighboring attractions.
The fishing town of Port Isabel is just across the Queen Isabella
Causeway and features shopping, dining, and local crafts stores. To get a
good overview of the coastal area, visit the recently renovated Port Isabel
Lighthouse. Built in 1853, the lighthouse guided many a fishing boat back to
port. Now it affords visitors panoramic views of the coastline, the island,
and the Gulf of Mexico.