Padre Island Texas is the world’s longest barrier island. The island is located on Texas’ southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico and is famous for its white sandy beaches. It is named after Padre José Nicolás Ballí (c.1770-1829) who served as collector of finances for all the churches in the Rio Grande Valley and founded the first Mission in present Cameron County.
The island has 70 miles of natural beaches, 133,918 acres of which are protected in the National Seashore.
Primitive camping is allowed at no cost along the entire length of the Gulf beach and selected areas along Laguna Madre. Throughout the National Seashore, excellent opportunities exist for saltwater fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, boating, and other water sports. If you are interested in offroad/4×4 driving, fifty-five miles of the beach are accessible strictly via four-wheel-drive vehicle; 8.5 miles are available for standard passenger vehicles. The only designated hiking trail on the island is located just after the entrance station. The easy 3/4 mile loop Grasslands Nature Trail provides an enlightening glimpse at the components of a barrier island, including interior grasslands, stabilized dunes, and freshwater marshes. Obtain a nature trail brochure at the entrance station or visitor center and follow the numbered posts along the trail.
The towns of South Padre Island and Port Isabel are located on its southern end, but the island as a whole is sparsely populated. The central part of the island is preserved in a natural wild state as Padre Island National Seashore. Since 1964, the island has been divided by the artificial Port Mansfield Channel, and as a result, the terms “North Padre Island” and “South Padre Island” are often used to refer to the separate portions of the island. Padre Island is located in Cameron, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy counties.