Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on the east and Laguna Madre Bay on the west, South Padre Island sits just off the tip of southern Texas in a tropical climate that attracts many visitors from around the world. The island has become a major hot spot for college kids on spring break and continues to be a prime destination for vacationers year round.
Connected to the mainland by a 2.5-mile bridge, the island is actually a barrier reef that is home to about 5,000 people and sees about a million visitors per year. The island is a tourist haven, with abundant recreational activities, retail shops, resorts and hotels, restaurants and nightclubs.
Designed with tourism in mind, there are tons of activities to be had. From shopping to birdwatching, any visitor, regardless of their personal tastes, will find a variety of entertaining activities. The beauty of the island’s sandy beaches is a huge attraction for many. Warm gulf waters are perfect for swimming, fishing, boating and parasailing.
Lots of people enjoy spending a good deal of their time on the beach in South Padre. The fine sandy beaches are perfect for working on a tan and relaxing. Read a book, have a drink, and let the rest of the world worry about rushing about.
If you’re interested in a more adventuresome day, consider parasailing, kiteboarding or windsurfing. Parasailing and windsurfing are exhilarating activities enjoyed by even novices. A parasailing adventure gives you a panoramic view of the island that will take your breath away. You can learn to surf or waterski, with numerous shops operating classes for novices and renting equipment to the experienced.
Spend an afternoon horseback riding or hiking. There are plenty of wildlife adventures to be had in South Padre as well. Ecotourism is active on the island and you can go on birdwatching tours, dolphin boat trips, or swim with sea turtles. Boasting a recorded 306 distinct species of birds, avian enthusiasts find the island a perfect place for vacationing.
There are lots of places worth visiting on the island as well. The Dolphin and Nature Research Center offers interactive educational opportunities to learn about the Gulf’s sea life and conservation.
The Sea Turtle is another fantastic place to visit for those who want to know more about the local sea life. This center is a hospital and rehabilitation ward for injured sea turtles, and provides visitors with the chance to learn about and meet sea turtles of a variety of species. With educational programs and activities for the whole family, The Sea Turtle is a must-see while in South Padre.
The nature lover will find the Laguna Madre Nature Trail a perfect way to spend a day or two. The trail is a 1,500-foot boardwalk that runs across a total of four acres of natural wetlands located near the island’s convention center. You’ll have the unique opportunity to see a variety of birds and other wildlife in their undisturbed, natural habitat. It’s bound to result in some of your best vacation photographs.
For an afternoon of silly fun, consider taking a trip to Three Flags Over Padre, a small amusement park with a ferris wheel, go-carts, miniature golf course and large arcade. Catch a bite to each at one of the island’s many restaurants and do a bit of shopping along Padre Boulevard, the island’s main drag.
For the golf nut who can’t go a week without a round, there’s the South Padre Island Golf Club, a par-72, 18-hole championship course. And the fishermen in the family will find Osprey Fishing Trips’ deep sea fishing adventures quite to their liking.
While you’re in South Padre, you may also want to consider visiting Pot Isabel, a little town just over the bridge on the Texas mainland. This historic fishing village is the home of the Point Isabel Lighthouse, built in 1853, which stands more than 50 feet in height and gives tourists the chance to have a great view of Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
If you are looking for a little south of the border, off-island adventure, you may want to take a tour from South Padre Island to the Mexican town of Matamoros. Located about 30 miles south of the island, Matamoros can be reached in a very short period of time and gives you the chance to have some real Mexican food and enjoy a bit of shopping.
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