South Padre Island is home to many water sport activities, with personal water craft rental, kite boarding and dolphin watches being the most popular. Other favorites are horseback riding adventures on the beach and ecological tours that explore Padre Island National Seashore.
Fishing is also popular. Every year, the Texas International Fishing Tournament is held in late summer, with winnings totaling almost a quarter million dollars. Other fishing tournaments include the Ladies Kingfish Tournament, the Hooters Tournament and the Redfish Rodeo, just to name a few.
In March, the island is a popular spring break destination for college students from around the world. The rest of the year it is a popular family resort destination, with July being the most crowded.
On the southern tip of Texas is the sunny, subtropical paradise of South Padre Island. This barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico offers a year-round getaway from the daily grind. Gaze at a magnificent sunset from the flats, laze on the white sandy shoreline, get active with water sports galore, or go fishing and cook your catch. Take a dolphin-watch tour, look for more than 300 species of birds at the SPI Birding & Nature Center, and don’t forget to sample plenty of fresh Gulf seafood.
Every March, like clockwork, students would cram into cars and head to South Padre Island for spring break fun in the sun and 24-hour beach bashes. Times have changed, and while some of today’s college kids still plan beach trips to South Padre, the area has seen a rebirth of sorts as a popular family vacation destination. That’s because South Padre, or SPI, delivers with wide sandy beaches, sparkling blue water and a mixture of funky hotels and bars that emphasize character.
But there’s more to SPI than beach revelry. Kite boarding is a favorite pastime and several sports outfitters offer deep-sea fishing trips and dolphin-watching excursions. The consistently warm weather also seduces northern Texans seeking refuge from the cold. And it’s understandable: Just a day’s drive from major Texas cities like Houston and Dallas, this seaside paradise is right in the state’s own backyard.
For most people, South Padre Island in Texas is usually associated with rowdy Spring Break parties. With booze cruises and beach beers and all the shenanigans you see in all those movies about the American college experience.
So when I got invited to visit South Padre Island by Texas Tourism, I was a little skeptical. I mean, I don’t really party – hell, I don’t really even drink!
But then I started poking around online to see what else there was to do on South Padre. And I was surprised to find lots of things that had nothing at all to do with partying. Things like dolphin cruises and paddle boarding and horseback riding and a sea turtle rescue center.
So I agreed to go. Because one of the things I love most about what I do is being able to dispel misconceptions and set the record straight about destinations that have a lot more to offer than people assume.
South Padre Island is definitely one of those destinations. After spending four days there, I concluded that not only is it a great destination for people who love the heat and the outdoors, but it’s also a year-round destination that can appeal to everyone from Spring Breakers to families with kids.