Home Page
South Padre Island Attractions

Sand Dunes and Empty Beaches
Location: North of City Limits
Directions: Drive north on Padre Blvd. to beach access #5 or #6. Head north on the beach to find your secluded getaway. 4 wheel drive is highly recommended, but on low tide 2wd access is possible. If you don't want to drive on the sand, then go to the end of Park Road 100, it dead ends in the middle of tall sand dunes with a great view of the bay and surf. Nice place to watch the sunrise or sunset, or take the kids to romp in the dunes. Padre Island, the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, stretches for 110 miles along the Texas Gulf Coast. The national seashore occupies miles of uninhabited island paradise, a place where sandy beaches are met by the warm and gentle waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Padre Island is named for Padre Jose Nicolas Balli, who built a mission on the island in the early 1800s to Christianize the native Karankawa Indians. The sand dunes north of city limits is the perfect getaway if you are looking for your very own private stretch of beach. Camping is allowed and free. Driving is allowed on the beach, you can drive nearly 30 miles on the sand until the Port Mansfield jetties. Four wheel drive vehicles are recommended for driving on the sand, otherwise you can drive to the end of the paved road, Padre Blvd, and climb up one of the tall sand dunes that borders the national seashore, where you have a stunning view of both the bay and Gulf. It is a great place to enjoy our beautiful sunsets over the Laguna Madre, sunrise over the surf, and a perfect spot to relax and look at the stars. This is a highly recommended activity for kids!

City and County Beaches

East side of Island
Directions: There are public beach access points every couple of blocks. Turn off of Padre Blvd. on any cross street to get to Gulf Blvd.and park at one of the public beach access points to get to the city beaches. Or visit one of the county beach parks on the southern or northern ends of the Island. The beaches of South Padre Island are the number one attraction for many Island visitors.
There are no privately owned beaches in Texas, so everyone is welcome to enjoy every inch of the entire coast line. There are beach access points every few blocks along Gulf Blvd, or you can go to one of the county park beaches where you'll find pavilions with picnic tables, playgrounds, restrooms, and showers.
Travel Channel names South Padre Island as one of America's best beaches for family beach travel. When summing up America's best beaches, the Travel Channel says "Calling all soccer moms: It's time to kick off your work pumps and throw on your flip-flops. Treat yourself to a relaxing day at the beach. These kid-friendly beaches are just the place to unwind with the family. Don't worry. While you peacefully soak in the sun, your children will be entertained with plenty of activities on and off the beach. South Padre Island is perfect for vacationing families and honeymooners. This beach is for the value-conscious traveler."
Just remember to please leave only your footprints in the sand.

The Gulf of Mexico and The Laguna Madre
The Gulf of Mexico is on the East facing side of the Island. The Laguna Madre is on the West facing side of the Island.
Directions: Turn right off of Padre Blvd. on any cross street to get to Gulf Blvd. to get to a public beach access for the Gulf of Mexico. Turn left off of Padre Blvd on any cross street to get on Laguna Blvd.
The waters surrounding our barrier Island provide for many unique opportunities. Surfing, swimming, fishing, dolphin watching, sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, wind surfing, and kite boarding are just a few of the activities taking place daily in the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre here at South Padre Island. Isla Blanca Park on the south end of the Island is commonly known as the best surf in the Gulf of Mexico, our gentle waves make South Padre Island the perfect spot to jump right in and learn how to surf. The Island boasts some of the best fishing in the country. Whether you are going fishing off of the jetty, wade fishing along the beach or in the Laguna Madre, or going on a bay fishing or offshore fishing charter, you are likely to hook into some red snapper, grouper, redfish, snook, flounder, trout, tuna, marlin and more. The Laguna Madre is a very popular spot for wind surfing and kite boarding, and is known as one of the best places in the United States to catch some good clean wind and ride in the beautiful shallow waters of the bay.

Sea Turtle, Inc.
6617 Padre Boulevard
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
Phone: 956- 761-4511
Sea Turtle, Inc. was formed to aid and assist in the protection of Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle - and to ultimately restore the ridley population to a level that will ensure its survival. Through the years Sea Turtle, Inc. has expanded its scope to actively support the conservation of all marine turtle species. To achieve its goals, they. provide educational programs to schools, tourist bureaus, civic organizations and new media. Sea Turtle Inc is committed to rehabilitating injured sea turtles for their return to the wild. Each day, a volunteer meets visitors at the facility and talks about the different species of sea turtles, their importance to the environment, and what we as individuals can do to pull them back from the edge of extinction.

South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Sealife Center

Location: Lighthouse Square in Port Isabel at
10 North Garcia by Pirate's Landing
Phone: 956-299-0629
Discover the spectacular diversity of nature that South Padre Island has to offer. Learn about dolphins in the wild and sea life. Experience hands on marine life with various touch tanks and aquariums. Hold starfish, urchins, live snails, and other creatures. Help feed the octopus, moray eels, hermit crabs, sea horses and many more! Daily presentations on the dolphins of South Padre Island given by the local dolphin research team. Learn about our real-world dolphins; how they live and interact with both each other and their environment.

University of Texas Pan American Coastal Studies Laboratory
100 Marine Lab Drive
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
Phone: 956-761-2644
The Coastal Studies Laboratory's public display area contains representative species of fauna and flora from the immediate area of the Lower Laguna Madre, Gulf of Mexico, and South Padre Island. The laboratory is open for public visitation 1:30 to 4:30 P.M. Sunday through Friday. Organized school groups, civic and other groups should arrange to visit Monday through Friday 8:00 A.M. to noon. These groups should call at least one week in advance to arrange a time and date.

South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
and World Birding Center
Location: Laguna Madre Nature Trail
7355 Padre Blvd
South Padre Island, TX 78597
Phone: 956-761-3005
Rare Bird Alert: 956-584-2731
On its 50 acres near the convention center, the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center presents a model of the rich habitats that contribute to this very special place. Dune meadows, salt marsh and inter tidal flats are all represented here, along with thickets of native shrubs and trees that are irresistible to migrating birds in their season. South Padre Island is a crucial first landfall for birds making a difficult cross-Gulf migration from Southern Mexico and northern Central America. Especially after a spring storm, wooded lots of the island teem with an eye-popping rainbow of warblers, tanagers, orioles and thrushes. Wetlands harbor a range of shorebirds and waterfowl, while endangered species such as the Brown Pelican, Piping Plover and Peregrine Falcon may be found here as well.

Wyland Whaling Wall #53
Location: 7355 Padre Blvd,
South Padre Island Convention Center,
South Padre Island, TX 78597
Phone: 956-761-3000
The South Padre Island Convention Center boasts one of only 100 Wyland Whaling Wall murals. The mural titled "Orcas of the Gulf of Mexico," depicts life-sized killer whales and is number 53 of Wyland's Whaling Walls series. The murals are intended to increase awareness of dangers faced by the world's marine life.

Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site
421 Queen Isabella Blvd./Highway 100 Port Isabel, Texas 78578
Phone: 956-943-7602
The Port Isabel Lighthouse was constructed in 1852, near sites of Civil War Battle of Palmito Ranch (1865) and Mexican War Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. Of the 16 lighthouses originally constructed along the Texas coast, Port Isabel is the only one open to the public. With a perch 50 feet above the ground, it is always popular with photographers and other visitors, because they can enjoy great views of South Padre Island and the beaches. In fact, a number of couples have climbed the 75 winding stairs, including 3 short ladders, to exchange wedding vows on top of the tower. Facilities: The grassy knoll where the lighthouse sits is ideal for strolling and relaxing, and the facilities are for historical study and scenic viewing. Picnic tables are also available.

Museums of Port Isabel

Location: 317 E. Railroad Ave.
Port Isabel, Texas 78578
Phone: 956.943.7602
The MUSEUMS of Port Isabel is a complex consisting of three diverse facilities, the Port Isabel Historic Museum, the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, and the Point Isabel Lighthouse. All three are within walking distance of each other and are open year around to the public.
Treasures of the Gulf Museum
puts the spotlight on three Spanish shipwrecks. Meeting their fate in 1554, just 30 miles north of Port Isabel, and brought to life with murals, artifacts and hands-on activities. Also featured is a Children's Discovery Lab, Ship Theatre and Nautical Gift Shop. Port Isabel Historical Museum is a state-of-the-art facility is located in the Champion Building. Built in 1899 as a dry goods store and residence, it now houses two exhibit levels, a theater, a gift shop and one of the largest collections of Mexican artifacts from the U.S. - Mexican War. The facade 'features the famous fish mural' painted in 1906 by a local fisherman. Constructed in 1852, the Point Isabel Lighthouse was built to protect and guide ships through Brazos Santiago and the barrier islands. In 1952, the Lighthouse was opened as a State Park and remains the only lighthouse on the Texas coast open to the public. The Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage which is on the grounds of the lighthouse, houses the Chamber of Commerce. The Keepers Cottage is open to the public. FREE history of the lighthouse display & local information.

South Padre Island Golf
Location: 1 Golf House Rd
Laguna Vista, Texas 78578
Phone: 956-943-5678
Golf Course Details - Around every every bend, after every hole at South Padre Island Golf Club you will find yet another reason our golf course is considered the finest in the Rio Grande Valley. Enveloped by nature and removed from the traffic and busy pace of this modern age, the course South Padre Island Golf Club is truly an oasis. Golfers come from far and wide to golf with us, won't you do the same? Pro Shop - The pro shop at South Padre Island Golf Club carries a range of golf equipment from many of the top name brands, at competitive prices. Practice Facilities - We offer a full size driving range, beautiful short game area, and large putting green to help improve your golf skills. There is no better time to improve your golf game. Don't forget: lessons are available from our full staff of golf instructors. Always strive for your best round. Restaurant & Bar - When you need a quiet place to visit with clients or to enjoy a relaxing moment after your round, stop by the clubhouse here at South Padre Island Golf Club. Our restaurant and patio are wonderful places to rest, surrounded by the beauty of our club, or host your next dinner party. The delicious cuisine from our kitchen will have you back each week for lunch and dinner.

Gladys Porter Zoo
Location: 500 Ringgold Street
Brownsville, Texas 78520
The Gladys Porter Zoo is an oasis nestled in the center of Brownsville, Texas. With 26 acres of lush tropical plants and some 1,600 animals, the Gladys Porter Zoo is known for its successes in breeding endangered species of wildlife. In a mere ¾ mile trek, a visitor to the Gladys Porter Zoo will encounter a diverse ensemble of 377 species of animals and 225 species of plants. The park is divided into four zoogeographic areas: Africa, Asia, Tropical America and Indo-Australia. There is also a Herpetarium and Aquatic Wing, a Free-flight Aviary, Macaw Canyon, Bear Grottos, and a California Sea Lion exhibit. Small World features a nursery and an animal contact yard where children can touch and interact with domesticated animals. Large numbers of wild birds find sanctuary on the Zoo grounds, drawn to the plants and waterways that provide them with food and shelter.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Rio Hondo, Texas 78583
Phone: 956-748-3607
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is located on the lower Gulf Coast about 25 miles east of Harlingen, Texas. It is the southernmost waterfowl refuge in the United States. It also provides habitat for 10 federally endangered or threatened species and has the most bird species documented (411 species) of any national wildlife refuge. Typical of the Texas Coastal Plain, the refuge is virtually flat with most elevations below 5 feet above sea level. The landscape is an interspersed pattern of meandering resacas (oxbow lakes), lomas (brush-covered sand/clay dunes), coastal prairies, and wetlands.
The south Texas landscape is a unique blend of temperate, subtropical, coastal, and desert habitats. Mexican plants and wildlife are at the northernmost edge of their range, while migrating waterfowl and sand hill cranes fly down for the mild winters. This combination makes Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge world famous for its birds, and home to a mix of wildlife found nowhere else.
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is the largest protected area of natural habitat left in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, an oasis for wildlife with few alternatives. The refuge's 45,187 acres become more valuable with each acre lost to development--valuable to wildlife and valuable to those who enjoy wildlife in wild lands. Ocelot, Texas tortoise, green jays, chachalaca, and javelina prefer the dense thorny brush land areas of the refuge, while alligator, least grebe, and black-bellied whistling ducks choose the ponds and resacas. Desert dwellers like roadrunner, verdin, and cactus wren inhabit the scrub areas, while species like roseate spoonbill, egrets, and herons join black-necked stilt, American avocet, and piping plover at the shore of the Laguna Madre.