Picture a very different winter. Brilliant blue skies surround you while the sound of rolling waves whisper to you on a beach that stretches for miles. A steady Gulf Coast wind lifts kites and wintering birds into the air. There’s even a chance you’ll be there on a day when endangered sea turtles emerge from soft sands as sunrise spills onto the horizon and over the hushed crowd.
This is South Padre Island – the crown jewel of Texas beaches. The subtropical climate and mild, semi-arid temperatures mean lots of sunny days that have attracted creatures large and small, two-legged, four-legged and winged, for decades. Escape the bitter cold and trade shoveling snow for sand to make the world’s most perfect sandcastles.
There’s no question that the beauty of the Island is the initial appeal for most. But while some come for the sun and surf, many stretch their stay (and plan to return just like the sandhill cranes) because of the Island vibe.
So Accessible. So Padre.
At the subtropical southern tip of Texas, South Padre Island is accessible by land, air and sea.
The Island is 531 miles from Dallas and 367 miles from Houston. By air, three airports in the Rio Grande Valley provide access to the Island including Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport, Valley International Airport (Harlingen), and McAllen International Airport. By sea, the Intracoastal Waterway provides access to boats of all sizes.
So Enticing. So Padre.
Experience the bold, tropical flavors of South Padre Island that is different from many beach communities because of its authentic fusion of Mexican and coastal fare. You won’t find many touristy chains here; instead, you’ll be surrounded by an abundance of talented chefs who have brought their skills to the Island.
Take for example one of the Island’s newer restaurants, F&B (Food & Beverage) SPI. F&B has the Island casual ambience and serves modern American cuisine with a coastal flair. Other dining options include Yummies Bistro, a great breakfast and lunch spot with a diverse menu that includes many healthy options. Nestled in the dunes overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Cafe on the Beach at The Palms Resort offers tantalizing menu items such as fresh grilled red snapper and shrimp dishes, along with fried seafood baskets with hand-breaded shrimp, oysters or red snapper -or a combo of all three – with fries or another side. Blackbeard’s is a South Padre Island dining institution featuring an extensive menu of fresh grilled, blackened and fried seafood dishes, as well as mouthwatering steaks and hamburgers. Pier 19 boasts spectacular bayside views from morning until night, with an extensive menu that covers breakfast through dinner. If you are looking for a special dinner on the Island, look no further than Liam’s Steak House & Oyster Bar. Here, you will find an extensive menu ranging from pastas to seafood to steaks and more.
Hook a fish and cook your catch!
With the warm waters of the gulf as your playground, you’ll have your choice of expansive bay and offshore fishing. Whether you prefer charter boats or kayaks, surf fishing or wading, you can get bowed up no matter what fish you’re after. When the long day on the water is done, ask your outfitter about local spots that will cook your catch to your liking.
So Natural. So Padre.
Birds, sea turtles, dolphins – they all call South Padre Island their home. Some of them are even year-round residents (the Island has that effect on us all).
- Exceptional birding watching. In October and November, fall migration begins with the return of the northern birds to the Island. The South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary offers educational opportunities to learn about birds, flora, fauna and the environment with an emphasis on conservation and environmental awareness, along with a five-story viewing tower, blinds and boardwalk nature trails. Guided birding tours are also available.
- Giant sea turtles. Visitors can view and learn about these intriguing and beguiling creatures, including the endangered Kemp’s ridley, at Sea Turtle, Inc., the Island’s only rescue, rehabilitation and conservation facility.
- Dolphin watch tours. Dolphins LOVE the Island life. Hop a ride with the great folks at Breakaway Cruises, Osprey Cruises, or The Original Dolphin Watch. All three boast a success rate of nearly 100 percent due to the sheer number of dolphins residing offshore.
So Relaxing. So Padre.
You’ll need a place to stretch and relax between exploration and adventure. The Lighthouse Inn is located on the bayside of the Island’s main boulevard – Padre Boulevard. The Inn boasts a variety of room sizes, scenic grounds, and plenty of outdoor spots to enjoy a perfect Texas sunrise or sunset. Pearl South Padre Resort is nestled on the Island’s southern tip, and is a premier beachfront resort for families, business travelers and couples seeking tranquil views and soft, sandy beaches. Sapphire South Padre offers an on-site rental desk with condos loaded with amenities, and every unit offers both beach and bay views. You can also take advantage of one of the many vacation rental properties for that home away from home feeling.
If you are bringing home with you in the form of an RV, the Island has several RV parks that offer daily, weekly, and monthly rentals.
So Unique. So Padre.
There is something about the sand on South Padre Island that makes it the absolute best to build a sandcastle with. Seriously. We are the Sandcastle Capital of the World thanks to our phenomenal weather and the actual structure of our sand. Professional sand sculptors flock to the Island and we have a few incredible local artists who construct structures you have to see to believe.
And the best part: they offer lessons. Right on the beach, where all you need is sand, water, and your imagination. Reach out to Amazin’ Walter’s Sandcastle, Andy Hancock Sandcastle Lessons, Sandy Feet Sandcastle Services, or South Padre Sandcastle Lessons.
To see what is possible when you get really good at sandcastle building, check out the Sandcastle Trail. Roughly 30 sand sculptures are located throughout the Island, sculpted by professional sand artists – some local and some from as far away as Singapore.
So Perfect. So Padre.
Get the Island vibe and spend the winter with the turtles, birds, dolphins and Island folks on South Padre Island. So beautiful. So Padre.