We just returned from a family vacation at South Padre Island and I thought I would share some of our experiences there in case you are planning to head that way this summer. It is only a 6 1/2 hour drive from Austin and well worth the trip.
Some of the things we enjoyed most:
Beach time, of course! There are lots of access points to the beach along the island and the beaches were clean and beautiful. A beach umbrella, chairs, and lots of suncreen are all great to have on hand. Lots of families had large pop up tents like found at Academy which seemed to make great shade for long days at the beach. The kids enjoyed boogie boarding and working at mastering a skimming board (harder than it looks!). For younger kids buckets, shovels and life jackets are all good.
Schlitterbahn has a water park right on the island. It is designed so that you can float from ride to ride so you stay cool all day. Our favorite thrill ride was The Tempest. There is a giant Sand Castle Cove with lots of fun for the younger kids. They also have the Sea Trek (for ages 8 and older and an additional fee) where you can go underwater in a saltwater tank with divers and have photos taken with stingrays, puffer-fish and more. Look for the opportunity to register to win a trek when you enter the park. We actually won! www.schlitterbahn.com/spi
We took a morning bay fishing trip on the Osprey, which docks at Pier 19. Lots of fun. We saw dolphins and we caught enough sand trout and whiting for dinner that night ….delicious! Rods and reels and bait are provided and the crew was very helpful and knowledgeable. Also caught on our boat were catfish, a crab, and several ribbon fish (beautiful but very scary teeth!) all thrown back by the Captain. For a very small fee they will even clean your fish for you. And you can take them to a local restaurant and they will cook them for you for a fee if you prefer not to cook them yourself. www.ospreyfishingtrips.com
While on the subject of Pier 19….this is a perfect place to watch the sunset. Nice view of the bridge and lots of pelican watching.
We also climbed the Port Isabel Lighthouse. A lovely view of the island from way up there. It was recommended to us to go in the morning as it gets hot in the top of the lighthouse later in the day. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/port_isabel_lighthouse/
A trip to Sea Turtle Inc was educational and enjoyable for all ages. This group does some very important work. They have lots of sea turtles to see. They sometimes do turtle releases so be sure to ask about these. We did not get to go to one but it sounded very interesting. www.seaturtleinc.org
Behind the convention center on the island there is a free nature walk. This boardwalk goes to Laguna Madre Bay and is a very nice place to observe the ecosystem. We saw fish, hermit crabs, blue crabs, and watched heron while they fished. Nearby is South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. There is an admission fee here but they have an observation tower and more boardwalk. It also looked interesting. www.worldbirdingcenter.org
Looking for a place to stay? We rented through Seaside Services and were very impressed by how well maintained the property we stayed at was and by how helpful they were in answering questions and suggesting things to do. They manage about 70 properties on the island. www.southpadrebeach.com or call 877-544-1066
South Padre made for a great vacation! And there was lots more to do there but we could only fit so much in and still have plenty of beach time!
Hope you get to go …if not this summer, sometime in the future!