Trace your finger south along the map of Texas' coast, nearly as far as you can before reaching Mexico, and you'll find yourself in a slice of sub-tropical paradise: South Padre Island. It's on this gentle barrier island that sun seekers are digging their toes into the sand and casting their cares aside. So what is it that makes this destination shine? Let us count the reasons picky beach bums flock to South Padre Island.
Texas has 600 glorious miles of Gulf Coast and wouldn’t you know, South Padre Island’s 34-mile sandy strand is Texas’ top-rated beach.
A Sub-Tropical Climate
While Canadians layer up in blustery sweater weather, islanders on South Padre wear their fall tans. There’ll be no love lost when you ditch the land of snow blowers for 300 days of SPI sunshine. An average winter temperature of 18°C (65°F) means you’ll be trading ski goggles for sunglasses and swapping boots for flip-flops.
We don’t mean to be superficial - but with stretches of wide beach that slink beneath aqua blue shallows, and a shoreline that’s skirted by windswept sea grass and leafy sub-tropical flora – South Padre Island has a natural beauty that is easy on the eyes.
Climb aboard – or – climb a board and get wet!
On an island just half a mile at its widest, the beach is always near and watersports are a local pastime. Sail or jet-ski the outer waters, kayak or stand up paddleboard in Laguna Madre, or hang ten while the surf’s up. Get a bird’s eye view while parasailing 200 metres over the Gulf. Underwater, scuba dive the wrecked Texas Clipper.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Get back to nature by walking the island’s varied habitats. Trace the 3,330-foot boardwalk at The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, binoculars at the ready. Or, saddle up and explore the beach on horseback. Who said there had to be a ‘trail’ in trail riding anyway?
Cast Out and Reel In
On shore, off shore or deep sea, turn in any direction to cast a line. What can you expect to catch while fishing on South Padre Island? Depending on the season, sailfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, tuna, wahoo, swordfish, grouper, flounder and snapper, to name a few.
I-Spy: The Life Aquatic
Whether it’s spying turtles and dolphins at play in the wild, or rescued turtles being rehabilitated at Sea Turtle Inc., marine life sightings are guaranteed on SPI.
Learn to Kiteboard
It’s never too late to pick up a new sport, especially when you’ve got the perfect setting to learn in. The gentle body of water between the Texan mainland and South Padre Island is called Laguna Madre. Not much deeper than waist-high, the barrier island keeps waters relatively calm and flat. Lessons and gear rentals are available.
Dine the Sea
Sitting on one of the world’s best fishing holes means dining tide-to-table. Sitting on one of the world’s best fishing holes in Texas is an invitation for surf n’turf that we can’t resist.
If you've earned your own catch of the day, let one of the island's many cook-your-catch restaurants fire up the grill for you. Chefs cook it how you want and dish it up with savoury sides.
Hit the Links
Landlubbers who prefer to keep two feet firmly planted on the ground might consider a round (or two, or three) of golf. Whether competitive, friendly or mostly mulligans, South Padre Island Golf Club is as scenic as it is sporting.
Winter Texan Community
Unpack, stay a while, you’ll be in good company.
Winter Texans is the name given to snowbird travellers flocking south to escape winter. South Padre Island is home to a community of Winter Texans who return year-on-year, which means there’s an active calendar of events and meet-ups, and plenty of resources for new nesters.
The Best Kind of Traffic
If life is a highway and the highway is a beach…you must be on South Padre Island. Literally. If your vehicle can handle it, a cruise down Padre Island National Seashore is sure to be one of the most scenic rides of your life.
Accommodations for All
Do you BYOB? That’s bring-your-own-bed to Winter Texans. There are three campgrounds on the island and on SPI, tenting doesn’t have to mean roughing it either. Beach condo and home rentals abound, and when split between a family members or holidaying couples, waterfront properties can be had at a real steal. Want more amenities? There are a handful of comfortable hotels on the island, and unpretentious beach resorts that offer affordable luxury.
The community of islanders on SPI is a cozy 2,800. Why do we mention that? It means laid-back, friendly locals who march to the beat of island time. That’s just the kind of place we want to dial back in.
Treasures of Coastal Living
Life’s a beach when you holiday shore-side.
South Padre Island is a place where the commute is as short as the boardwalk, and a place where Mother Nature reminds us she’s a master artist. Twice daily, watch her paint the sky in broad brushstrokes of orange and vibrant fuschia.
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