South Padre Island – Beach Paradise Close to Home

by Gabi De la Rosa on July 14, 2016 in Living Texas, Travels,
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Summer weather is upon us and it is time to start looking for your next island getaway. South Padre Island has everything you are looking for in a tropical vacation: beautiful sandy beaches, great food, activities for the whole family and best of all it is a short car or plane ride away from anywhere in Texas. Once you cross over the Queen Isabella Causeway onto the Island, you will know you are in for a one-of-a-kind getaway and you won’t even need your car. The Island is very walkable, at only 4.5 miles long and half a mile wide, so ditch your car keys and just walk, bike, take a decked-out scoot coupe or golf cart anywhere you want to go.

Enjoying the beautiful waters of South Padre Island is a dream come true. Courtesy photos
Enjoying the beautiful waters of South Padre Island is a dream come true. Courtesy photos

South Padre Island might be best known for its Spring Break crowds, but it has so much more to offer. The beaches are clean with light sand and clear water. The bay that surrounds the island is very shallow which allows for clear water and warm water temperatures which are great for watersports of all kinds. Stop by Air Padre and rent a surfboard, stand up paddle board or even book a lesson and learn to kiteboard. When I stopped in to Air Padre for a stand up paddleboard rental, I was a little nervous, but after some patient instructions and help into the water, I was ready to go and had a great time. If water sports aren’t your thing, learn to make a fantastic sandcastle from one of the Island’s resident master sand sculptors, Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga. Known as one of the “Top Twenty Things to Do” on the Island, I decided to book a lesson and see what it was all about. I had no idea that there is such precision and technique to building a great castle, but after my 1.5 hour lesson, I even impressed myself with the castle Lucinda and I built together.

One of the best things about the island is all the great local food. You can find a few chain restaurants, but why eat there when you have so many local favorites to choose from. Gabriella’s Italian Grill and Pizzeria offers scratch made Italian food that will rival any Italian restaurant on or off the island. Start off with the toasted ravioli, move onto the lasagna and save room for the S’more pizza – you won’t regret it. Grab some tacos and a margarita at Señor Donkey’s and be sure to take advantage of the fresh seafood found on almost every menu on the island. BLT for breakfast anyone? That’s right you can enjoy bacon, lobster and tomato eggs benedict and a mimosa while savoring your beach view at Palm Resort Beachside Café.

Getting a chance to see these little guys is an amazing experience.
Getting a chance to see these little guys is an amazing experience.

If you need to walk off one of the fantastic meals you have just eaten head to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center , take a walk along their nearly two miles of trails and catch a glimpse of not only birds, but many other animals in their natural habitat. Visit Sea Turtle Inc. and learn about sea turtle rescue, release and meet Allison, the first sea turtle ever to successfully use a prosthesis to help her swim. During my visit to Sea Turtle Inc., I enjoyed not only seeing Allison, but also meeting the other resident turtles and was even able to adopt a baby turtle and name it. There are also many dolphin excursion opportunities which will give you a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins, and if you are lucky you might catch up with a pod that will swim alongside the boat.

If you are looking for a luxurious experience, book a room at one of the Island’s four full service hotels and make sure to stop in for some pampering at the Sapphire Spa.  Don’t forget about the Island’s nightlife, there are so many bars and music spots to visit. Louie’s Backyard is one of the larger entertainment areas and has 5 bars to choose from, great food drinks and music.

South Padre Island has it all; great food, wonderful nature tourism opportunities, water activities for the whole family, but most of all the Island offers great sandy beaches which are sure to put rest and relaxation in your vacation.