South Padre Island, an island the size of less than one-half mile wide and 5 miles long offers so much in things to do. Whether it is swimming, kayaking, boating, sunbathing, fishing, nature watching (bird, turtle, dolphin) or any other on the water activity, you can find it all here. Following are six top things to do on South Padre Island.
1. Dolphin Tours of a small group tour of six or less with quiet motors offers a very special "dancing with dolphins" experience. Fins to Feathers Dolphin Tours offers such service. You have an opportunity to see a lot of dolphins in their natural habitat. The Black Labrador Retriever seems to call the dolphins and they come running. Owners of the boat, Capt. Paul and Heather are knowledgeable about the bay as well.
Fins to Feathers Dolphin Tours
Address: 500 South Point Drive, Port Isabel, TX, 78578
2. Port Isabel Lighthouse - Port Isabel Lighthouse, perched 50 feet above the ground is the only lighthouse open to the public along the Texas Gulf Coast. It reopened in January 2018 with new paint and remodeling. If you enjoy photography or amazing vista views of Laguna Madre Bay, Queen Isabella Causeway, South Padre Island and the Town of Port Isabel, you will enjoy the lighthouse. Just know the climb to the top balcony is narrow and about 75 steps. Small children may have a little difficulty. Parking is limited so you may have a short walk. Parking at the Square is an option, one-half block from the Lighthouse. The City of South Padre Island offers a free shuttle service around the island and across the Queen Isabelle Causeway to Port Isabel with shopping stops including Walmart and HEB grocery stores.
Address: 421 East Queen Isabella Boulevard, Port Isabel, TX, 78578
3. The Black Dragon Pirate Ship Cruises are very interactive and family and kid-friendly excursions. The minute you step aboard the ship, get ready for water gun fights and hilarious quips from pirates. Everyone is included in the fun. Listen to a little bit of South Padre Island history. You may see dolphins while sailing or perhaps a sunset on the way back to the pier. It is a not to miss activity.
Address: Pier 19, 1 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX, 78597
4. Turtle Watching - Sea Turtle, Inc. - Enjoy seeing turtles up close while learning a lot of interesting knowledge from Turtle Talk in the new amphitheater. Entire family will enjoy the turtle experience as rehabilitated turtles are safely returned to their natural habitat. Kids especially enjoy the turtle feedings.
Address: 6617 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX, 78597
5. Largest Outdoor Sandcastle is the largest, free-standing and permanent outdoor sandcastle in the country right here on South Padre Island at the visitors center. South Padre Island is known as the sandcastle capital of the World. Andy Hancock is the local artist of the sand sculpture. South Padre Island's Sandcastle Days in Oct. 2 - 4, 2015 marked the "qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting" for South Padre Island. You can view extensive information about the sandcastle onsite. It is the inaugural of the Island wide Sandcastle Trail. Ask for a trail map of sandcastles at the visitors center. #TheLargestOutdoorSandcastleintheUSA
Address: 610 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX, 78597
6. Andy Bowie Park is known for having lots of seashells. Hikers and bird watchers enjoy the Laguna Madre Nature Trail while windsurfers venture toward bay side. This quiet beach is very clean and the water is a beautiful color. You are able to drive 30 to 40 miles on the beach with a four-wheel drive vehicle. To make it easier to cart in your belongings, you can pay $10 for parking. In addition to your sunscreen, you may want to bring an umbrella.
Address: 7300 Park Road 100 N., South Padre Island, TX, 78597
In visiting South Padre Island, we trust you will agree that these six activities are not to miss and that you will add your favorites and share them with us.
Texas Parks and Wildlife: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/port-isabel-lighthouse
Sea Turtles Never Had It So Good in South Padre Island
No trip to South Padre Island is complete without a visit to the world-renowned Sea Turtle Inc. Founded in 1977 by Ila Loetscher, better known as “The Turtle Lady,” the organization has dedicated itself to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles. Sea Turtle Inc. is instrumental in bringing back the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle from the brink of extinction.
Located on the southern tip of Texas, South Padre Island is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. This 34 mile-long barrier reef is one-half mile at the widest point and the only link to the mainland is the two and one-half mile Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge. Spanish explorer Alonzo de Pineda named this barrier reef “Isla Blanca” or “White Sand” in 1519…and South Padre has been “white sand” to many since then.
South Padre Island has many informal restaurants…here are eight restaurant suggestions ideal for nice, casual conversation. South Padre Island restaurants have the good fortune to be bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay…making a dining experience while viewing the Gulf of Mexico at sunset relaxing and pleasurable.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, 47,000 acres, is in the path of migrant birds from the eastern United States, along the Gulf shoreline. The refuge is noted for its exceptional opportunities for bird watching and other wildlife. More than 400 birds have been sighted in Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife.