South Padre Island Travel Guide

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

South Padre Island Highlights

  • Pro
    yelli profile photo

    yelli says…

     Best beaches in Texas, lots to do, nice weather 

  • Con
    Stephen-KarenConn profile photo

    Stephen-KarenConn says…

     Touristy 

  • In a nutshell
    CJD68 profile photo

    CJD68 says…

     Sun, fun, sand, water and scantily clad people. 

South Padre Island Things to Do

  • Schliterbahn Water Park

    Schliterbahn (German for slippery road) is a 'branch' of the water park by the same name in San Marcos, North of San Antonio. This version is not nearly as big, but it will do if you're into this sort of thing and want to slide down the tubes instead of swim in the Gulf. There is also a restaurant serving seafood (The Shrimp Haus) which doesn't...

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  • Laguna Madre Nature Trail

    The Laguna Madre Nature Trail was a great place to take a stroll and watch the different birds and even alligators wander in the tidewater park. There were also some exotic birds that had attracted birdwatchers of all kinds with their expensive cameras. At the entrance to the convention center there was a huge ornately made sand castle that was...

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  • Isla Blanca Park

    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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  • Sea Turtle Rescue

    Our family thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Sea Turtle Inc. They have very educational presentations about the endangered sea turtles that they protect, along with all the other species of sea turtles that they help rehabilitate. While we were there, they brought out a special turtle that had been fitted with a prosthetic leg/fin. I believe that was...

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  • Statue of Padre Jose Nocolas Balli

    In 1804, Padre Jose Nicolas Balli, a Catholic Missionary/Priest, founded a settlement on South Padre Island called Rancho Santa Cruz, where he raised cattle and horses. This bronze statue of the Padre shows him clad in a cassock and clasping a crucifix in his right hand. In 1829, the year he died, Balli was awarded title to the island by the...

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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

  • Felt like a Tourist Trap

    I was disappointed in this restaurant, there was a salesman at the front of our hotel selling tour tickets, he recommended this restaurant to us, for a casual place to eat- and gave us a coupon.It is behind the KOA on the water, but I was not impressed with the atmosphere...or the food. More of an attraction here, is that they will cook fish that...

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  • Enjoy the patio

    We visited this restaurant at an off hour, late in the afternoon with the kids for a lunch out on the patio. I love the atmosphere of this place, both inside and out. Gorgeous views of the bay~ a great place to relax and have a beer.This was the moment where I thought to myself....wow...I really DONT miss work!! Honestly, I can't remember what I...

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  • You Catch It, They'll Cook It - $7.99

    This place was a lot of fun. We departed on our bay fishing voyage from here. When we came back, they cleaned, fileted, and cooked our fish for $7.99 a person. This is really good food that you wouldn't find anywhere else. haha...funny you ask....it was the fish I caught...a Pompano

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South Padre Island Nightlife

  • 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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  • Everywhere

    This place rocks during SPRING BREAK and summer so everywhere is crowed and has a cover. As a local i loved Wahoo's. It is on the bay and a great place to start a nite and finish. Sit on the deck over the water and have a bucket of fun. at least 22 shots of liquor and juices and straws so you dont need a cup. This place has food too. Seafood and it...

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South Padre Island Transportation

  • 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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  • The Bridge

    This is the famous bridge, once down after 9/11 troubles in USA. Very nice view from top and full of cars in springbreak

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South Padre Island Shopping

  • 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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  • Shop, Don't Steal!!!

    Beach Mania is only one of numerous gift shops which can be found all up and down Padre Blvd. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this one because of the unusual message on it's signboard. Surely it couldn't have been inspired by any of the thousands of spring-breakers who were in town!We bought a refrigerator magnet here, and also visited a...

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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

  • 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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  • Officer Cantu

    Above all else, if you have been drinking at the bars DO NOT EVER drive. During the off-season the cops here get very bored and prowl around the island looking for people to bust for any infraction. In particular this one fat cop (ok, most are fat) officer Cantu has had numerous complaints about him using excessive force. Be polite to the cops...

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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

  • 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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  • An Ocean Full of Fish

    Where can you go that you can fish all day and have the restaurant of your choice cook your catch to your specifications. Lots of folks do it every day here at South Padre Island. There are approximately 600 different species, but the most commonly caught fish are the red or black durm, spotted sea trout and southern flounder in the bay, and...

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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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