South Padre Island Travel Guide

  • South Padre Island
    by smh81107
  • Sports & Outdoors
    by kytsrfr
  • South Padre Island
    by batman284

South Padre Island Things to Do

  • Schliterbahn Water Park

    Schlitterbahn (German for "slippery road") is one of the premier waterparks in the country. They have a variety of chutes, slides, pools, water-coasters and other ways to have fun in the water. There is a five-story water fun house for the kids, a sports bar for the adults and a full service restaurant for the whole family. The park also has its...

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  • Laguna Madre Nature Trail

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    There is a free nature walk next to the convention center. Like the one associated with the Birding Center this one is a boardwalk with a few spots for observing the wildlife. In some places they are quite close together and you can get some good views of birds and alligators here.

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  • Sea Turtle Rescue

    4.5 out of 5 stars

    This is a "living museum" dedicated to the "sea turtle lady" Ila Loetscher. You can see the sea turtles and learn all about them and the efforts to preserve them. Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM Tuesday through Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day (closes at 4 PM the rest of the year. There is a "suggested" donation. Nice mural outside.

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  • Isla Blanca Park

    3.5 out of 5 stars

    I lived on the Island about 10 years ago. It was fun espeially since I had a Big Ass Truck and spent most of my time up north between 5/6 and Mansfield cut playing. In the sand with friends and pissing off the local dune goons(they had the towing permit and charged 100 to 500 bucks for a simple tow to families on a budget vacation) by pulling them...

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  • Statue of Padre Jose Nocolas Balli

    You will find a statue of Padre Jose Nicholas Balli (for whom Padre Island is named) at the end of the causeway; his arms outstretched as though he is greeting the visitors to his island. Balli's family came here in 1569 from Spain and owned a lot of land in the lower Rio Grande Valley. In 1800, Padre Balli was granted some land on the island and...

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  • Andy Bowie Park

    Located on the northern end of South Padre Island, this Cameron County Park is a much smaller version of Isla Blanca Park on the other end of town. It provides beachfront picnic pavilions, concessions, a children's playground, shower facilities, 18 full hook-up RV spaces, and a ranger station. Group rental facilities are also available, with prior...

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South Padre Island Hotels

South Padre Island Restaurants

  • Expensive; But Great

    $30 as of May 2014. This is widely considered to be the best (and fanciest) seafood restaurant in or near Padre Island. It was even listed as one of the World's Top 100 seafood restaurants. The food and service IS quite excellent. VERY popular so you might want to make reservations. Alcohol is served too. Scott's Shrimp Scampi is delicious!!

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  • Restaurant, Sports Bar, Dance Club

    $16 as of May 2014 Louie's Backyard is a combination restaurant, sports bar, and dance club located on Laguna Madre. The menu includes hand cut steaks, a variety of seafood dishes, pasta, and a nice salad bar. Kids menu too. After you eat you can watch some sports on the 56 TVs, play darts and pool, or get acquainted with the other patrons. Happy...

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  • Very Good Seafood

    $19 as of May 2014. This restaurant was conveniently located along the main drag in South Padre Island. Looked okay inside and out but not that exciting. Casual atmosphere. Service was pretty good too. Open for lunch and dinner. Beer and wine served too. Open for lunch and dinner starting at 11 AM. Also try their award winning Camaronitas...

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South Padre Island Nightlife

  • Alcohol on the Water

    This seemed like a pretty good bar, with a variety of beers, and mixed drinks. Good rum and coke! They also serve bar type food (burgers, sandwiches, shrimp etc). Live entertainment on occasion (it was kinda dead when I was there but livens up depending on the season). Even off season there were cute, healthy, tanned young people of both genders...

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  • Club

    This club is huge right next to the ocean. Live music, dance club, bayside dining and cocktails, buffets, bowling, pool, games, tv's. Its just a great place to hang out and do whatever interests you. It was Free admission when I was there and is open until 2am.

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  • Great Music, food & drinks

    Scampi's has a great view-great food and drinks. But the best part is..... Larry Battle singing and entertaining. You can dance and sing along-fun, fun, fun!!!! casual-dancing shoes

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South Padre Island Transportation

  • Queen Isabella Causeway

    Access to the island is via the Queen Isabella Causeway Bridge that was built in 1974 (the same year the town was incorporated). Otherwise you need to go by boat. If anything happens to the bridge (like adverse weather or a traffic accident) you are pretty much stuck.

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  • Free Shuttle

    Called "The Wave", it's a free shuttle bus that makes a continual loop from Pt. Isabel, over the causeway, and down Padre Island Blvd. to the Convention Center. Bus stops are marked by signs and the bus is a bright yellow with "The Wave" written on the sides.

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  • Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway

    The only link between the mainland and South Padre Island is the Queen Isablella Memorial Causeway, across the Laguna Madre Bay. The 2.-mile-long span is the longest bridge in Texas. Completed in 1975, this impressive structruture was named for the Spanish monarch who financed Christopher Columbus' first voyage of discovery to the New World.In 1991...

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South Padre Island Shopping

  • Overpriced Souvenirs

    Like most beach resort towns there are many souvenir shops all along the main street in town. They have basically the same souvenirs too. Swimsuits that don't leave much to the imagination, T-shirts with slogans about sex, drugs or alcohol (or all of the above), shot glasses and similar items. One shop did have a collection of "Duck Dynasty"...

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  • Gift Shops

    This shop has a large quantity and better quality of different items. They have a lot of religious items, items made of sea shells, knick-knacks, wooden signs, etc This shop is more of a gift shop than island beachwear and toy store. Iron on decal shirts and wave boards are in other shops.

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  • Kites For The Beach

    They carry many different styles of kites, spinners, chimes ,etc. among other souvenirs, many unusual items.

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South Padre Island Local Customs

  • Biker's Fest

    Generaly held the 2nd or 3rd weekend of October(check website), thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from many different parts of U.S. and Mexico migrate to SPI. At times the island sounds like an over-sized bee hive from all the bmm-bmm-bmm's of the "hogs". Scenic rides are arranged (one to Matamoros on the Mexican border) as well as concerts, an...

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  • Sand Castle Days

    Started in 1987, this annual event draws professional and amatuer sand sculptors from all over. Cash prizes are given and generally there are many dozens of sculptures to admire. Free classes are given to both children and adults. The exact venue has changed over the years, but lately it has been on the beach behind the Sheraton hotel. It seems to...

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  • Texas Driving

    This is usefull when driving in southern texas. If a person is wanting to pass you, you can stay at the same speed you are going but, you pull into the sholder of the lane, so the car can pass even if there is another car coming the other direction. You will she exactly what i am talking about when you are down in this area.

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South Padre Island Warnings and Dangers

  • SPRING BREAK FEVER

    SPI is a major Spring Break venue for many college students from the central U.S. Many major companies (SoBe, Nintendo, etc) set up tents and sponsor dances and concerts. The place gets jammed with people for most of the month of March until the beginning of April. Traffic jams on the Causeway are a daily occurrence and unfortunately almost every...

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  • Cheerleader camp!!

    We arrived in South Padre Island in June for our summer vacation, little did we know, there was a serious cheerleader camp going on during that week for the state of Texas. High school cheerleaders came by the bus load to our hotel, and the events were held on the beach at the resort next door. Unfortunately, things were a bit crowded and loud.Be...

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  • Customs Road Block on your way back to...

    I was shocked to be stopped at a customs road block 100 miles away from Mexico. It was on Hwy 77 in the middle of nowhere. You can't see it on your way into South Padre. But you will be stopped on the way out and get your car searched by a drug dog. And asked questions by a customs border agent.

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South Padre Island Tourist Traps

  • Gift Shops

    Don't waste your time going in EVERY gift shop here when you could spend your time doing something a lot more fun and interesting. They all have the same merchandise. Limit yourself to 3 MAYBE 4 at the most. There are so many more things to do like the lighthouse in Port Isabel, deep sea fishing, Schlitterbahn, the Sea Turtles

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  • mexico border

    Cross the border on foot, buy vanilla which is less than 4 dollars US. It is made in Mexico and wonderful plus very cheap. Also Kaluha and Tequila you have to pay tax when you cross the border of about 1.35 a bottle. I only bought one bottle.

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  • Shopping in Mexico.

    Its only a few hours drive to Matamoros and the mexican border, the east coast version of Tijuana. Its worth the few cents to get in as shopping is very cheap, spirits can be a bargain and you will be offered bags of grass by shifty looking Mexicans.

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South Padre Island Off The Beaten Path

  • Find your own secluded dune

    South Padre Island is the world's largest barrier island, which means it's a very long, very sandy strip of land not far from the mainland of Texas. When you enter on the bridge, you'll see many high-rise hotels lining the gulf and bay side of the island. Don't be dismayed, though. Head northeast (to the left of the bridge) and you'll soon be able...

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  • Edwin K. Atwood Park

    Located at the northernmost point of island development, and about 1.5 miles north of Andy Bowie Park, this is as far as you can go on South Padre Island, at least on a paved road. Beach access allows those who dare to leave the pavement and drive 20 miles or more up the beach. Many people do just that, but one would be well advised to be properly...

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  • Check out the end of the island

    When you are down at South Padre you need to go check out the the end of the island were there are no buildings and the pavement ends. This is a great place to see durning the day, as well as also going back and looking at night.Don't drive over the sand dunes because it is illegal, but if you go at night there are access points that you can travel...

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South Padre Island Sports & Outdoors

  • Get in the Water

    There are several places that offer deep sea and bay fishing, dolphin watching tours, and other boating activities here on the island. You can also get lessons on surfing, Wakeboarding, landboarding, and kite boarding at Air Padre, along with rentals for kayaks, surfboards and other items.

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  • If you like wind powered sports....

    If you like windsurfing or kiteboarding then South Padre Island should be on your list. South Padre warms up earlier in the spring and stays warm later in the fall than 95% of the U.S. April-June and Oct-Dec are the most popular months. And luck would have it that these months also offer offseason lodging rates so the adventure won't break the...

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  • Kite Boarding

    Several places rent equipment and give classes on this relatively new sport which combines flying a kite, gliding, and surfing all in one activity. Novices and intermediates practice in the bayside of SPI where the water is frequently smooth, experts go over to the Gulf side and work the waves. Some get up enough speed to get themselves airborne,...

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South Padre Island Favorites

  • Flip Flops vs. Mesh Water Shoes

    If you go to the northern most point where the road ends, you will find mountains of sand. They are not easy to climb over and they are deep and powderish. There are also accassional broken glass bottles, metal bottle caps, and sharp broken seashells among other things that can leave you with a vacation war wound. Those cuts are not fun in salt...

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  • Location

    South Padre Island is in the extrem south east of Texas right on the Mexican border. It is joined to the mainland by an impressive suspension bridge. It's a popular retreat fro Texans, although it's a little pricey.

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  • Tourist Info

    Practically as soon as you come off the Causeway you'll see the SPI Visitors Center, where you can stop to get maps, brochures, and info on current happenings.

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Map of South Padre Island

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