The Ultimate Guide to South Padre Island!

Andrew and I have been itching to get out of the city for a while now so I started to do some research about the best beaches in Texas. After much research, we decided to explore South Padre Island! South Padre Island is about 24 miles from the Mexican border.  It only has about 3,000 residents and is located between the Lower Maguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico. 

The widest point of the Island is just a half-mile, so you are never too far from the white, sandy beach and crystal clear ocean! It is about 34 miles of paradise. South Padre Island is one of the world’s most exquisite barrier Islands, and the only Island in Texas. 

As we were planning our trip, we decided to stop in Corpus Christi to grab lunch! Andrew actually stayed a summer in Corpus Christi and always talked about how beautiful it was… so we stopped to stretch our legs and look at the amazing view! 

Doc's Seafood & Steak Restaurant was ranked #3 out of 578 restaurants in Corpus Christi! We enjoyed happy hour margaritas and the view of the water while we ate our delicious food! I ordered a chicken salad with homemade ginger dressing. It was soooo yummy! Andrew ordered a crab cake sandwich which was massive! We left full & happy! 

We were so anxious and excited to finally arrive at South Padre Island! The drive was so easy and time flew by! Andrew and I basically had a karaoke show in the car (lol). We didn’t have any plans for Friday because we weren’t sure when we would actually get to South Padre Island because of beach traffic. However… we didn’t hit any traffic! So we got to the beach much earlier than we expected. We passed a rental shop and saw a jeep wrangler… Andrew and I both looked at each other and said “LET’S DO IT!”.

I literally had butterflies because I was so excited to hit the beach with a jeep wrangler! I’ve always wanted to do this and it was finally happening!! We were in-and-out of the rental shop in 20 mins with this super fun toy! We headed straight to the beach access so we could drive on the beach! 

I can’t even describe how free and happy I felt... I had my soulmate driving me around in a topless jeep wrangler with the beach breeze touching my face, the smell of ocean, and looking at the beautiful white sands and crystal clear ocean while jamming to the radio. Hands down my favorite beach trip! 

We drove so far down the beach that we were completely alone. Just me and my love with ocean and white sands as far as you could see. We were like children seeing the beach for the first time. We were overjoyed and just so happy! 

After enjoying the beach for a little bit, we decided to beach drive more. Andrew actually offered me to drive (shocking because he swears I’m the worst driver), we just drove and soaked up the sun hitting our face. The moment was more than I ever wanted. The quickest three hours of my life. 

After we returned the jeep, we decided to check out the largest outdoor sandcastle in the US! It was displayed at the Visitor’s Center. It was cool to see and super detailed. Definitely very impressive work! 

“The largest outdoor Sandcastle in the USA is on South Padre Island Created in 2013 by Andy Hancock who won the American Sand Sculpture title in the same year it used 60 tons of sand and took 750 hours of work to put it together. It used River Sand instead of Beach sand as the beach sand cannot stand this much weight without a lot of help!”

Our next stop was the South Padre Island Convention Center! It had a beautiful view on the bay side on the Island. The Convention Center was closed so weren’t able to check out any of the art or sculptures that the Visitor’s Center was raving about but the view of the bay was enough to please us! 

We then decided to eat and watch the sunset on the bay! Rumor around the Island was that Palm Street Pier Restaurant and Bar had the best view and good food! We weren’t starving or really hungry because of our huge lunch in Corpus Christi. We ordered a few drinks from the bar and an appetizer to munch on while we watched the sunset on the bay! Supreme Nachos and margaritas for the win! 

The view of the sunset was absolutely beautiful. We sat outside on the pier and watched the sunset over the bay! There was also a live band playing and a cool breeze... What more could we have asked for?

While driving into South Padre Island, we heard on the radio that there would be fireworks! We couldn’t remember if they were going to be ocean side or bay side so we just headed to the beach! Everyone was leaving the beach so we were worried that maybe we didn’t hear the radio right… but right as scheduled, the fireworks started at 9:30! 

It was the perfect end to an incredible day with my husband. Everything just went so smoothly and fell right into place. I was counting my blessings the entire way back to our hotel. 

We decided to stay 30 mins off the Island to spend $100 bucks a night versus $250 so we could have extra money to spend on things to do during our South Padre Island mini vacation. We woke up around 8 am to head back to the Island when we passed a Krispy Kreme with the hot and ready sign on!! When the sign is on, you must stop regardless if you are hungry or not. Donuts are amazing but Krispy Kreme doughnuts are magical. 

Andrew and I grabbed a few to eat for breakfast and snack on throughout the day… but we ate them all before we even got to the Island. Opps! They were just soo good. 

We headed to Breakaway Cruises to use our Groupon for a 2 hour dolphin tour. [Read about Groupon HERE.] We got there early so we could explore the marina and check out what else they had to offer! Plus who doesn’t want their coffee with a side of bay view?! 

Yayy!! We saw dolphins!! We saw so many dolphins… the water was so clear that you could see them underwater when they were close to the bow of the boat. Andrew and I had both seen dolphins before but it was still so much fun!

Not only did we see dolphins but we saw the entire island from the Gulf of Mexico. We could also see Mexico from the boat. The weather was absolutely perfect! The boat was so clean and well maintained. The crew was also so nice and told us all about the history of the Island. 

One of the crew members came up to me to show me a starfish that he found earlier that morning in the marina. It was my first time holding a live starfish!  I named him or her squeeshie! 

After we got back to the Island, we went to check out Sea Turtle, Inc.! They rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles! They also educated the public and assist with consideration efforts for all marine turtle species. 

Since one of their main missions is to educate the public about sea turtles, the rescue center is free for all to come learn. However, they do ask for a small donation to help fund their rescue services. They offer educational displays and even detailed information about the turtles that are being rehabilitated at the center. It was one of my favorite things to do in South Padre Island and listed #1 on TripAdvisor! 

We drove about 10 mins to see the Port Isabel Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1852 to help guide ships through the Brazos Santiago Pass to Port Isabel. 

Port Isabel was a super cute town… so we decided to walk around. During our walk around the town, we discovered a sea life nature center. So we decided to check it out! 

They offer marine animals native to the area to view and some even have touch tanks! I think this was more based for kids because I wasn’t really impressed… They didn’t have starfishes or other animals I thought I would see. but Andrew had a great time! That’s what counts. 

It was around noon now and we were ‘HANGRY’.  Andrew turns into a complete diva when he gets hungry… so we went to Yummies Bistro, the #1 voted restaurant in South Padre Island by TripAdvisor. The café offered healthy foods! We ordered mimosas and addressed the postcards we picked up! I love postcards… especially mailing them to my nephews. This helped us stay busy while we waited for our food. I ordered the house salad and Andrew had the house burger! Both were delicious. 

After lunch, we decided to explore Isla Blanca Park! It is located at the very southern tip of South Padre Island. You have to pay to enter the park but then you have full beach access, concessions, and bath houses to enjoy! We drove around and decided to go layout at the beach. The water felt great! Nothing like soaking up the sun on a white sand beach! 

After a few hours of playing in the ocean and sunbathing on the beach, we decided to explore the park a little more before we headed to our bay fishing charter. South Padre Island is seriously so beautiful. 

Our bay fishing charter, that I bought from Groupon, was scheduled from 6-10. We got their early to change and grab a snack before we headed out. Andrew and I don’t really fish… We have in the past but it’s not something that we are both crazy about so we were excited to fish since it had been forever since we last fished! 

We were excited to be back on the water again! We were also excited because we knew we would be out on the water at sunset. The Captain and the crew were super awesome about making sure everyone had what they needed. I kept praying to God that I would catch a fish before Andrew… yes that is how competitive we are, lol! 

The sunset itself was worth the entire amount we paid for the charter fishing trip. It was absolutely beautiful.  We decided to stop fishing for a bit to watch the sunset. The boat had a top deck with benches and since everyone else wanted to fish, we had the top deck to watch the sunset to ourselves! 

I caught my first fish before Andrew, thank God!! But I actually caught the most fish out of everyone on the charter, lol! Since we didn’t have the need to keep the fish, we gave them to another family who wanted them. People were catching eels, stingrays, and catfish! There was always excitement of some kind on the boat. 

Our Captain took our boat near where the fireworks were going to be displayed. Andrew and I just went on the top deck and watched the fireworks together. It was the perfect end to our beach trip. We talked about how everything just went so perfectly for us in South Padre Island. We talked about the things we wanted to finish in our condo, and we planned our next adventure. We are truly so blessed. 

If you ever get the chance to explore South Padre Island, I highly recommend that you do—explore it to the fullest!