South Padre Island has become one of my favorite winter destinations. Ever since I first experienced this tropical island, I fell in love with the welcoming Texas beach community, year-round sunny days, and moderate temperatures. The island has all of the amenities and attractions of a major resort destination but with a warm small town charm that makes South Padre an ideal getaway for escaping Canadian winters.
My primary goal in vacationing at South Padre Island is to soak up the sunshine and enjoy beautiful sandy beaches. Whether you prefer lounging beachside with a paperback or revving your adrenaline with activities such as kiteboarding or paddle boarding, South Padre offers an incredible assortment of activities for all skill levels and interests. Local vendors provide everything you’ll need for an adventurous day on the water.
I recommend signing up for surf lessons with a private instructor. You’ll love the rush of riding waves with a skilled trainer at your side. South Padre Surf Co offers lessons and surf camps for beginners, along with rentals for the more experienced.
During my recent visit to South Padre Island, I was captivated by the incredible presence of birds and wildlife. Just outside my hotel window, wintering birds flocked to a towering tree, and I found myself casually bird watching and enjoying their signature songs. For a more immersive experience, birding tours are available through the South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center. Here you’ll find interactive exhibits and boardwalk nature trails, perfect for an afternoon dedicated to viewing island inhabitants.
There are also exceptional opportunities for experiencing the marine life of South Padre Island. There’s nothing quite like coming face to face with giant sea turtles, and visitors can learn more about these gentle giants at Sea Turtle, Inc., a local rescue, rehabilitation, and conservation facility currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion. Or, to see dolphins at play in their natural environment, book a tour through The Original Dolphin Watch, Breakaway Cruises, or Osprey Cruises. Sailing around South Padre Island and spotting these playful critters was definitely a highlight of my beach getaway.
South Padre Island is home to more than fifty eateries ranging from fine dining to grab-and-go dishes.
During afternoon beach activities, I tend to strike up a hunger for tacos. A great spot to grab beachside tacos and a refreshing adult beverage is Barry’s Tacos & Margaritas. For a fabulous flavour punch, I suggest the seafood boils at Daddy’s Seafood & Cajun Kitchen. They serve up a spicy mix of crawfish, shrimp, crab, and sausage with potatoes and corn in a casual, family-friendly venue.
During a sunny afternoon, a handcrafted beer is in order from Padre Island Brewing Company. In addition to great brews and friendly service, the kitchen features local crab cakes and peel-and-eat shrimp for starters, and a wide assortment of fresh catches for entrees. Try the flounder fillets topped with a crab cake and Gulf shrimp for a trio of tasty temptations.
While beach activities keep me busy during my South Padre vacations, I love taking a break to explore the local shopping scene.
South Padre Island hosts an incredible farmers' market every Sunday, offering everything from artisan cheeses and local produce to grab-and-go snacks.
Market Days is another must-visit shopping experience and the 2018 Market Days celebration takes place Jan 5-7, at the SPI Convention Centre. The event features unique local arts, hand-crafted jewelry, home decor, and gourmet treats from local vendors.
Throughout the year, Sisters Interiors is a gorgeous home decor shop for picking up tropical inspired accent pieces, while Ship Shape offers a tasteful assortment of clothing, footwear, and sportswear for the whole family. I always seem to find an extra special souvenir shopping South Padre.
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