South Padre Island Boasts Tropical Fun for Any Budget

There’s free beaches, swanky spas and a sea turtle with a prosthetic fin.

By Marika FlattSeptember 1, 2016 9:30 am

Texans have a lot to be proud of, and the fact that we have a tropical oasis in our backyard should be on that list. South Padre Island is part of the world’s longest barrier island and it boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year. Once you arrive, ditch your car keys and just walk, bike or take a decked-out scoot coupe or golf cart anywhere you want to go.

Miles of light sandy beaches offer great opportunities for beach combing or enjoying the sand and sun. Take a sand-sculpting lesson and learn how to build your own masterpiece, or try your hand at anything from stand up paddle boarding to kayaking and kitesurfing. The warm, clear, shallow waters make water sports easy to enjoy almost any time of year.

South Padre Island’s climate also makes it a perfect habitat for many species of birds, fish and plants. The island is part of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail and is a temporary home or stopping point for hundreds of birds on their fall and spring migration.

The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center has nearly two miles of trails where you can catch a glimpse of  birds and many other animals. Visit Sea Turtle Inc. to learn about sea turtle rescue and release. There you can also meet Allison, the first sea turtle ever to successfully use a prosthesis to help her swim.

Dolphin excursions in South Padre will give you a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins. If you’re lucky, you might catch up with a pod that will swim alongside the boat.

One of the best things about the island is the great local food. Try the lasagna and S’more pizza at Gabriella’s. Get your Tex-Mex fix at Señor Donkey’s and take advantage of the fresh seafood found on almost every menu on the island. BLT for breakfast anyone? Enjoy bacon, lobster and tomato eggs benedict and a mimosa while savoring your beach view at the Palm’s Resort beachside café.

South Padre Island has something to fit everyone’s budget. If you are looking for luxury, book a room at one of the island’s four full-service hotels and stop in for an hour-long massage at the luxurious Sapphire Spa. But remember, you can’t get more luxurious than the sand, surf and fun which are free, open 24/7 and a welcome treat for everyone who visits South Padre Island.