South Padre Island is, in our mind, the crown jewel of Texas beaches, and our beachfront resort remains a great destination long after summer is over. The weather cools down, the crowds recede, but the sunrises remain phenomenal and the sound of the waves lapping the beach is beautiful. While there’s nothing better than walking along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s by no means the only fun to be had on the island. In fact, there is so much to do on South Padre, that it’s no wonder that people from around the state, the country, and the world flock to the island year-round.
Of course, on the weekends you can visit our indoor waterpark in our resort (that’s where we keep that summer vibe going), but it would be a shame to miss out on the other kinds of adventure taking place up and down the island. So, with our bags packed, tanks full, and our sites set for the Rio Grande Valley, we took a minute to hit up our Texas team for their list of South Padre must-dos:
We love to get in some turtle time. In 1977 Ila Loetscher (known as “the Turtle Lady) started Sea Turtle Inc., focusing on bringing back Kemp Ridley sea turtles back from the brink of extinction. While nesting season is April through November, that doesn’t mean you can’t score some serious turtle watching in South Padre year-round. Head over to Sea Turtle Inc. – we recommend arriving in time to see a feeding, either at 10:15 or 3 pm – and learn all you can about these amazing creatures. You’ll even get a chance to see some of the resident turtles and patients rescued by volunteers. Keep in mind if it’s cooler than 55 degrees out, the outdoor pools will be covered to keep the turtles warm.
Details: Open Year Round, although they do close some weekends. Be sure to check the website. Less than a five-minute drive from our Resort.
Riding in the surf is not just in the movies. The Stables on SPI (how locals refer to South Padre Island) offers horseback rides on the beach from sunrise to sunset every day. Since SPI has views of both the Gulf and the Bay, the sites from horseback are beautiful. And if you are staying awhile, ask of about the polo matches. They offer lessons to those who are interested in learning more about the sport of kings.
Details: You’ll need reservations in order to saddle up and we strongly recommend the sunrise ride. Don’t worry, you won’t have to get up too early, the Stables are only a five-minute drive from our Resort.
Lighting the way on Port Isabel. There were 16 lighthouses originally constructed along the Texas coast; only the Port Isabel Lighthouse is open to the public. With 75 winding stairs and three ladders leading to a view that is 50 feet off the ground, the Port Isabel Lighthouse is one of the best views on the island (next to our favorite view from our very own Sea 4 Ever). Which is why you’ll want to bring a fully charged phone or camera so you can take advantage of this photographer’s mecca. There are also two museums on site; our recommendation is buy the combo ticket and visit all three.
Details: The Lighthouse is a state historical site, operated by the City of Port Isabel. Open year round (weather permitting); just over the bridge from our Resort.
Birds of a feather actually do flock together. Grab your binoculars, your camera, and your sense of winged wonder, because right outside of South Padre Island is the World Birding Center. But it’s much, much more than a “center” – it’s actually a network of nine different birding sites along 150 miles of historic river road, ending with the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. More than 500 bird species make this region their home. In fact, this region is so significant that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Rio Grande Valley Communities & U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all worked together and dedicated $20 million dollars to make the World Birding Center possible.
The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is on 50 acres of rich habitat. And it’s a vital one too because, as the Center notes “South Padre Island is a crucial first landfall – a lifesaver – for birds making an arduous cross-Gulf migration from Southern Mexico and northern Central America. Especially after a spring storm, wooded lots of the island teem with an eye-popping rainbow of warblers, tanagers, orioles and thrushes. Wetlands harbor a range of shorebirds and waterfowl, while endangered species such as the Brown Pelican, Piping Plover and Peregrine Falcon may be found here as well.” The Center has 3,300 feet of board walk and five bird blinds – perfect for catching sight of these winged tourists and locals alike.
Details: Open year-round, but hours are seasonal. We recommend calling before you head out. Only a ten-minute drive from our Resort.
Don’t let the big one get away. If there is one hobby that is a favorite of our team, it’s fishing, and there is some pretty spectacular fishing in the Gulf. Whether you are new to the whole hook and line thing or a dedicated deep sea fishing enthusiast, South Padre has a wide range of fishing guides and charters ready to take you and your crew out to their favorite spots. We recommend checking out the listing on the South Padre CVB fishing website to find just the right fit for you.
Details: Charters range widely, and are (obviously) weather dependent. Several guides are right across the street from our Resort.
Pirates of Padre. It’s not a true visit to a tropical island if you don’t encounter a pirate along the way. And fortunately, the pirate ship Black Dragon is moored right on the island! Captain Black Hearted Andy and his motley crew will take you and yours on a pirate themed sail on a modern day replica of a 17th century galleon. Your cruise will be filled with adventure and entertainment (but no walking of the plank, me hearties!). You may even learn a little sword fighting, which, let’s face it, is a skill that could be useful later in life.
Details: The Black Dragon sets sail at different times throughout the year, be sure to check the website. Right across the bridge from our Resort.
So there you have it – a real island of adventure is awaiting you. Luckily our Schlitterbahn Beachfront Resort on South Padre Island is the ideal stepping off point for all your island adventures – and these are just a few! Plus our property has full suites and all kinds of configurations that are family friendly (bunk beds!) and steps away from the beach. And we’ve got talented front desk staff to help you identify and book the experiences that are perfect memory makers for you and your family or friends.
Rates during our “resort season” means you get an amazing deal and still get to enjoy the best the island has to offer without the summer crowds. Visit https://schlitterbahn.com/south-padre-island/resort to book your island time at Texas’ crown jewel on the Gulf.