Not to be missed by visitors to Port Isabel is a stroll along the longest fishing pier in Texas. If you're a fisherman, so much the better. Admission to the pier is only $1.00, and if you have a meal at the adjoining Pirate's Landing Restaurant and show them your receipt, as we did, you get in free. Even though we didn't do any fishing on this trip, the pier offered a wonderful vantage point for taking pictures of the town of Port Isabel, the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway, and the Laguna Madre Bay.
Beside the pier we saw a functional 70 foot alumnium fly rod, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest. They make 'em BIG in Texas.
The pier is open year round, 24 hours a day. A concession offers fishing supplies and snacks.
Great affordable charter fishing for the bay or an exciting offshore trip can be found at Gladiator II Adventures. Incredibly affordable prices coupled with an enthusiastic knowledgeable captain and you have the recipe for an exciting trip with memories that will last a lifetime!
Right next to the lighthouse, this where the keeper lived. The building is basically maintained in its original condition and now houses the Visitor's Center. You can get all kinds of brochures and info. on local attractions.
The Port Isabel Lighthouse was constructed in 1852, near sites of Civil War Battle of Palmito Ranch (1865) and Mexican War Battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.
Tours are given 7-days a week.
The most interesting thing we did in Port Isabel was to take a Dolphin Watch Ecology Tour out onto Laguna Madre. Of the several companies which offer dolphin trips this one was the least expensive. It included everything the others do and we don't see how it could have been any better.
Our 90 minute cruise was aboard the 70' "Fish Tales," the area's largest double decker excursion boat. Not only did we see numerous Bottlenose Dolphins close up, but many other sea creatures as well. Toward the end of our trip a crew member drug a net and hauled up an impressive assortment of crabs, squid, flounder, shrimp, and more which he allowed us to see before releasing them back into the bay.
For current times and prices click the web link below.
Unlike the more general Port Isabel Historical Museum nearby, Treasures of the Gulf Museum specializes in telling the story of the three ill-fated Spanish ships that wrecked off the northern end of South Padre Island in 1554. The exhibit incorporates murals, artifacts, and hands-on activities to interpret this fascinating event that occurred only 30 miles north of Port Isabel. Actual artifacts that have been salvaged from the shipwreck are on display. These include: silver planchas or disks, coins, and weapons. There is a very nice children's section with a small scale ship for kids to imagine themselves sailing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. They can even dress in period clothing and map out a treasure site.
The museum is open Tues. - Sat., 10a.m. -4 p.m.
Combined admission for this Treasures of the Gulf Museum, Port Isabel Historical Museum, and the Port Isabel Lighthouse is a real bargain:
Adults - $7.00, Seniors $5.00, Students - $2.00, Kids free.
Sitting next to the Port Isabel Lighthouse is a replica of the Keeper's Cottage which houses the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce and a Visitor Information Center. This is an excellent place to begin your exploration of the many attractions in the area. Here you may also purchase a "Three Site Combination Ticket" for the lighthouse and two museums. In the cottage are several interesting displays of maritime and historical interest.
Hours are daily from 9 a.m - 5 p.m. Admission is free.
This very interesting museum is housed in the Champion Building, built in 1899 as a dry goods store and residence. The first thing we noticed about it was the unique "Fish Mural" painted on the facade in 1906 by a local fisherman.
Inside we found a state-of-the-art facility. It has numerous hands on exhibits, videos, and audio presentations that commemorate the colorful history of the Port Isabel area. This was the stage of some of the most important chapters of Texas, Mexican and American Historyl.
The museum has two exhibit levels, a theater, a gift shop and one of the largest collections of Mexican artifacts from the U.S./Mexican war.
Hours are Tues. - Sat., 10 a.m. -4p.m.
In 1852, the U.S. Congress approved the construction of a beacon on the Laguna Madre to support the growing ship industry of the South Texas Coast. The Point Isabel Lighthouse was built to protect and guide ships through Brazos Santiago and the barrier islands. During the Civil War, the light was closed and the tower was used at different times as a lookout for both the Confederate and Union armies. The Lighthouse was lit again after the war for many years until it was offically closed in 1905. Since then it has been used as a tourist attraction, and in 1952 it was designated a Texas State Park - the second smallest in the state. Of the sixteen lighthouses constructed along the Texas coast, Port Isabel is the only one that can now be visited by tourists. From the top is a splendid view of the Laguna Madre and surrounding area.
The lighthouse is open seven days a week. Hours vary seasonally so check the web link below for the latest. There is a small admission fee of $3.00 for adults and $1.00 for children.