South Padre Island is located on a long strip of island at the very southern tip of Texas and has beautiful natural landscapes, year-round attractions and events that visitors from spring breakers to families will enjoy.
South Padre Island boasts several opportunities to immerse yourself in natural beauty and learn about the delicate coastal ecosystem:
Sea Turtle Inc. is located at the end of Padre Boulevard near the convention center. It is a conservation center committed to protecting all sea turtle species. Kids can learn how to identify each type of sea turtle, take part in crafts and learn about conservation efforts. If you’re here in the spring, this is a must-visit for watching as sea turtles hatch and are released into the wild.
The Dolphin Research and Sea Life Nature Center, located across the bridge on Port Isabel, is another great spot for kids and adults to learn about Gulf Coast sea life. You can get up close and personal with hermit crabs and starfish, or take a boat tour to see some dolphins. While you’re nearby, check out the Port Isabel Lighthouse.
Take a walk on the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a stunning, 1,500 foot marshland boardwalk, to see coastal birds and get some exercise and head to the nearby Birding and Nature Center as well.
Beach Activities and Watersports
South Padre island is abundant in outdoor sports and activities. Here are some of the best:
- Take a sandcastle building lesson from Boomerang Billy’s on the beach.
- Visit Schiltterbahn Beach Waterpark on the southern end of the island. This sandcastle themed waterpark is a kid’s paradise.
- Visit the 40-acre Adventure Park at the end of Park Road on Laguna Madre Bay to rent ATVs to cruise along the beach.
- Ride horses along the scenic beach with the Island Equestrian Center - both amateurs and experienced riders are welcome.
- Take a boat cruise. Head out on The Original Dolphin Watch, take a cruise with Isla Tours, or take a sunset, snorkeling or dinner cruise with Southern Wave Sailing Charters. You can also rent paddleboats and kayaks from this watersports shop, located on the west side of the island off of Laguna Madre Bay, between the popular Tequila Sunset and Louie’s Backyard bar and grills.
South Padre Island has plenty ofcasual beach fare and local seafood options.
- For beachside casual fare, head to brightly decorated Pier 19 Restaurant, grab fried shrimp at Dirty Al’s on the Marina, check out Coconuts Bar & Grill off of Laguna Boulevard or hang out at Wanna-Wanna Beach Bar & Grill on the east side of the island.
- Grab a local brew and excellent burger at Padre Island Brewing Company
- The best spot for upscale dining in South Padre Island is the Sea Ranch Restaurant, which offers fresh seafood dishes and pretty harbor views.
In the first weekend of October each year, South Padre Island celebrates the annual Sand Castle Days, a 3-day event where you can watch master sand sculptors from around the world compete to turn sand into stunning works of art. There’s an amateur contest and arts and crafts for kids. Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill hosts the event.
If you visit in December, don’t miss the Christmas Lighted Boat Parade. Locals dress their boats with Christmas lights and parade from Pirates Landing in Port Isabel to Jim’s Pier on South Padre Island. You’ll see everything from yachts to kayaks in this annual competition and winter celebration.