South Padre Island
South Padre is a subtropical barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a bit of paradise at the tip of south Texas. This drive starts on the mainland, in Port Isabel, which features a quaint downtown, historic lighthouse and excellent seafood. It’s a quick, picturesque drive across the water on the Queen Isabella Causeway to South Padre Island. The resort town isn’t much to look at but it’s a gateway to a lot of natural beauty heading north. Following State Park Road 100, the drive travels between sand dunes before dead ending about seven miles out of town. This is an area with long stretches of empty beach and seashells. The dunes are gorgeous, the sand sculpted into artistic patterns by the wind. Closer to town, the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center has a boardwalk for experiencing the wetlands. Sea Turtle, Inc. is an educational, research, rescue and rehabilitation center where it almost feels like you’re swimming with these large, prehistoric-looking creatures. Sunrise and the open ocean lie to the east of South Padre. To the west, the waters are calmer, prolific with aquatic life and lit up in evenings by the setting sun.
Route & Map
Plan on several hours to enjoy the beach, dunes and nature centers.
Best Time to Visit
The subtropical climate means South Padre Island is enjoyable year-round. But Spring Break brings crowds and summer is extremely hot and humid.