South Padre Island: Fun in the Sun on Texas's Gulf Coast!
South Padre Island, located on the Gulf of Mexico in south Texas, is a year-round outdoor playground. In winter the population swells as many "winter Texans" descend on South Padre looking for some much needed sunshine. In March, chaotic fun ensues as 130,000 college students hit South Padre during the annual "Spring Break" period. The Gulf's warm waters, historical significance, and more sunshine than any sunbather needs make South Padre an ideal vacation destination. A day's itinerary can include fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, swimming, windsurfing, golfing, tennis, bird watching, beach combing, and just about any outdoor activity imaginable.
Before heading out in the sunshine, treat yourself to a taste of history by visiting the Port Isabel Historical Museum. Located in a restored 1899 Victorian commercial building, the museum houses exhibits that describe the history of the area from the time it was a supply depot during the Mexican-American war. There are Mexican- American War artifacts, interactive exhibits, and a large mural from 1906 by artist Victor Morales. Nearby, the Treasures of the Gulf Museum focuses on three shipwrecks that sank in the waters off of South Padre in 1554. Displays include relics, artifacts, and hands-on activities teaching about sea life for the kids.
The beaches around South Padre Island are legendary for their white, sugary sand, and for the calm, shallow waters. In town, there are over 20 different access points where you can park and pop out onto your choice of sand. All of the beaches are spectacular. For a total get away, head north to the Padre Island National Seashore, which is some 110 miles long. This is the longest barrier island in the United States. A four-wheel drive vehicle is best for exploring this amazing wilderness beach. The currents converge at Padre Island, making the Seashore area a great place to comb for a souvenir.
The Laguna Madre Bay separates South Padre Island from the Texas mainland and is recognized as one of the world's top windsurfing destinations. With average wind speeds of 15 mph year-round, the bay offers windsurfers of all skill levels ample opportunity to ride the waves.
South Padre Island is also famous for its fishing activity. The largest blue marlin ever caught in Texas was nabbed off of South Padre. Deep-sea, surf, fly and pier fishing are all popular ways of quenching your angling thirst. Big game fish like wahoo, blue marlin, white marlin, tuna, sailfish, swordfish, and even mako shark are all inhabitants of the Gulf's waters. True aficionados will want to plan a trip to coincide with the Texas International Fishing Tournament, which has been plowing along for more than 60 years.
With more than 300 species of birds, South Padre Island is a bird-watching paradise. One of the best places to spot some of the avian wildlife is the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. This boardwalk meanders out over wetlands and around a fresh water pond. Some of the species include egrets, ospreys, pelicans, kingfishers, moorhens, terns, and herons.
A visit to South Padre Island can be fun for the whole family. Build a sandcastle and have it judged in local competition. Take a horseback ride along the beach at sunset; or watch the sun disappear into the Gulf with a cool drink in your hand at one of the island's excellent restaurants. Bungee jump from the tallest bungee tower in Texas. Track down the island's famous "Turtle Lady," and receive a lesson in turtle protection. Strap on some scuba gear and visit one of the natural reefs which were created by sinking abandoned oil rigs. However you choose to spend your South Padre Island vacation, rest assured you could not have made a better destination choice!
The Schlitterbahn Water Park is located just across the street. Do not worry about parking spaces; just keep your auto at Gulfview I and walk over to buy your ticket and enjoy a fun-filled day of watersports for the entire family.
If you are not too exhausted from your day activities, you'll have restaurants, nightclubs, or a cruise on an offshore gambling vessel to choose among at night.
Brownsville is only 30 minutes away, and prides itself on the Gladys Porter Zoo -- one of largest and most comprehensive zoos in the United States. And world- class golfing is located at Laguna Vista, only a few minutes' drive from the Island.
The close proximity to Mexico (45 minutes) provides the vacationer an opportunity to enjoy a south-of-the-border experience. Dine or dance to a Latin beat at Garcia's, or visit the Mercado where you can buy gifts for everyone for only a few pesos.