Things to Do in South Padre Island
The toughest decision you’ll make while you’re in South Padre Island will be what you’re going to do during each day of your vacation. Regardless of whether you’d prefer to laze on the sand or jet across the Gulf of Mexico, there are tons of great activities waiting for you here. Surrounded by beautiful scenery that’s teeming with wildlife, the area is a virtual paradise just waiting to be explored. Read on to see just a few of the many things to do in South Padre Island.
Hit the Beach
It’s a no-brainer! South Padre Island boasts some of the cleanest and widest beaches in the great state of Texas, welcoming you to soak up the sun, throw a Frisbee, go for a run, or bury Mom and Dad in the sand. Since the island is only a half-mile wide at its broadest point, the beach is never more than a stone’s throw away. Although you can access the beach from just about anywhere, if you’re looking for a specific place to go near town then check out either Isla Blanca Park or Andy Bowie County Park. Both have clean and wide soft sandy beaches, soothing surf, and plenty of space to play, and Andy Bowie County Park has camping spots if you prefer to sleep under the starry night sky.
Try an Exciting Water Sport
When the sand gets too hot, hit the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for any or all of South Padre’s thrilling watersport opportunities. Thanks to favorable winds and a shallow bay, Padre is the perfect place to try your hand at kiteboarding or windsurfing. A wealth of tour companies provide diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, fly boarding, stand-up paddling, and other excursions.
Say Hello to Flipper
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love dolphins? They can be found frolicking all over the waters surrounding South Padre, and a number of tour companies are ready and waiting to get you out on the water for a closer look. Venturing out with the folks from The Original Dolphin Watch is a safe bet for spotting lots of bottlenose and spinner dolphins and hearing some interesting dolphin facts from the guides. In addition to offering its own dolphin tours, the South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center is a great place for kids and adults to get hands-on with rescued sea life and other animals, including a giant tortoise, iguanas, starfish, crabs, octopi, and more.
Build a Stunning Sandcastle
With South Padre being the Sandcastle Capital of the World, it’s only fitting that you build at least one grainy fortress while you’re here. Not the artsy type? Not to worry, the experts at Sandcastle Lessons give you the tools and training you need to create a Christmas card photo-worthy work of art. Yet the best part of building a sandcastle in South Padre is that you’ll be just a few feet away from the crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Enjoy a Long Drive on the Beach
Unlike many beach towns today, South Padre Island has room for 60 full miles of beach driving, allowing you to see much, much more of the area in a single day than would otherwise be possible. Make sure you have a car or truck with four-wheel drive, and check beach conditions before setting out by calling (361) 949-8175. The drivable area is located inside the Padre Island National Seashore, one of the world’s last remaining undeveloped seashores. To get there, take Park Road 22 past Malaquite Visitor Center until the pavement ends. Check out this handy guide on what you should bring with you on your driving excursion in the national seashore, as well as some other rules and regulations you’ll need to know.
Cast a Fishing Line
Thanks to the presence of the Lower Laguna Madre - one of six hyper-saline bodies of water in the world - South Padre is a celebrated destination for saltwater anglers due to its abundance of sea life. Dozens of guides conduct half- and full-day inshore, offshore, and deep sea trips for everything from speckled trout to trophy marlin. To keep your feet on solid ground, visit the Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier, where you can drop a line near a snack stand and a bathroom.
Hit the Links
If you have always dreamed of a trip to Pebble Beach for a round with the ocean breeze in your face, but you just haven’t made it there yet, then book a tee time at South Padre Island Golf Club. With 18 holes boasting picturesque Gulf views, sand traps, water hazards, and a layout that factors in the sea breeze, and you’ve got one of the best courses in the Rio Grande Valley. Although each hole features a variety of tee boxes to accommodate your skill level, you may still want to hit a few balls on the practice range before your round. Once you’re done, retreat to the Oak Tree Grill to hash out the finer details of the day’s play with friends over a cool drink.
Visit Schlitterbahn South Padre Island
Schlitterbahn South Padre Island is one of the top-rated attractions on South Padre Island, with 25 acres of thrilling rides, relaxing rivers and pools, artificial beaches, and delicious refreshments. Soar on the uphill water Coaster Storm Chaser, then float down Rio Aventura on your way to Bob’s Float-in Bar, a soothing hot tub and swim-up bar with cool drinks and ample shade. Stay at the Schlitterbahn Resort and you’ll receive discounts on amazing outings like skydiving, parasailing, horseback riding, and high-speed boat rides.