South Padre Island and its 34-miles of beaches is a favorite destination for locals, vacationers and Winter Texans. Situated between the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay, this resort area offers something to do for visitors of all ages, whether you are 5 or 75.
Water Adventures & Horseback Riding
Watersports of all kinds are a popular activity. Adventure seekers can enjoy parasailing, flyboarding, kiteboarding, surfing, jet skiing, scuba diving and skydiving. Armchair adventurers can watch it all from the comfort of a cozy beach chair with their feet firmly planted in the sand.
A unique and popular option for all ages and skill levels is horseback riding along the beach and water’s edge. There are options for both beginner and advanced riders, families and groups, as well as those who desire a romantic sunset ride.
Several tour companies operate in the area and you can find dolphin watches, birding tours, eco tours and sunset cruises, as well as deep sea fishing… of course! For those who prefer to drop a line from the shore, there are a couple great options.
Fishing and Birding
Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier is a one-acre park at the center of which is a fishing pier that was once the Queen Isabella Causeway. Anglers will be delighted at the variety of fish that can be caught, including speckled trout, sand trout, gaff top catfish, croaker, sheepshead and more.
Isla Blanca Park is a county-owned park, popular with both Rio Grande Valley locals and Winter Texans. The park offers two beachfront pavilions, a 1,000-foot sea walk, marina (with fishing charters), restaurants and gift shops, volleyball nets and showers. You can stroll or fish off the huge granite jetties and there is often live music at the pavilions during busy seasons. The park is open daily 8 AM to 7 PM, and can be reached by taking the first right, south of the Causeway. Winter Texans or extended-stay visitors take note: You can purchase a 90 day park pass at the Cameron County main office.
Additional county parks include Andy Bowie County Park and Edwin K. Atwood County Park on the island’s northern edge. Both have beachfront picnic pavilions and concessions. Andy Bowie has a large parking area, showers and restrooms and is open daily 7:30 AM to 5 PM (7:30 AM to 7 PM in the summer). You’ll also find one of the horseback riding opportunities mentioned above. A beach access road can be accessed from either park where the adventurous can explore 20 miles of shoreline and secluded beaches. Entry to either Andy Bowie or Atwood is $4 per vehicle.
Close by is the popular and free Laguna Madre Nature Trail. This elevated boardwalk takes you on an easy stroll from the South Padre Island Convention Center, which has plenty of parking, out to the Laguna Madre wetlands. It’s a must-visit for bird watchers, but it’s an enjoyable stroll for anyone who would enjoy the beautiful views of Laguna Madre Bay and the opportunity to see wildlife in their natural habitat.
Strolling & Sunbathing
For those who need nothing more than the sand, the surf and a good book, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to spend the day sunbathing, shelling, wading through the surf or just relaxing in a beach chair under an umbrella. South Padre Island’s beaches are easily accessible and free. There are 22 public beach access points and there is free, but limited, parking in small parking lots all along the access points. Note that if you are visiting during peak periods, you might want to use the WAVE shuttle service instead.
Dining and Dancing
And if all that fun in the sun has sparked your appetite, you’ll find plenty of places to dine and take in the views whether you are looking for burgers, seafood, pizza or steak. You’ll also find beach bars and nightclubs offering live music and weekly entertainment. Or, you can just head back to your RV Resort, a short drive away, and save your money for another adventure, another day. While all the Rio Grande Valley RV resorts featured here put you an easy drive away from South Padre Island, the closest are Fun-N-Sun in San Benito and Tropic Winds on the eastern side of Harlingen.