Without a doubt, South Padre Island Texas is one of our FAVORITE vacation destinations!
My family and I discovered this little tropical paradise a couple of summers ago. We have been hooked ever since!
Some of our favorite things to do in South Padre Island are the beaches, a visit to Schlitterbahn, and fishing.
Where Is South Padre Island?
If you’re wondering where South Padre Island is, follow the Texas coastline towards Mexico. It is a couple of miles off the coast just about on the border with Mexico. A bridge connects South Padre Island to Port Isabel on the mainland.
Things To Do In South Padre Island
The beaches on South Padre Island are probably the main reason why we go.
A seemingly endless stretch of soft, white, powdery sand along the Gulf-side of the island…
We usually take some goodies for the beach, like a beach shovel, frisbee, and boogie boards along. This provides for hours of fun in the sun. I like building sand castles with the boys. Last summer their quest was to ride the boogie boards in shallow water standing upright!
The boys also nagged me last summer to go parasailing. As a Dad, I was a little nervous, but in the end it was a fantastic experience! They just loved it…
Oh, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Although somewhat smaller than the Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, Schlitterbahn South Padre Island makes for at least a whole day of water fun!
My kids usually race from one ride to the next. I prefer to simply lie on a tube and go round and round on the “river” that connects all the rides.
Schlitterbahn could seem a little pricey, but at least they let you take a cooler. So once you’re in, you don’t have to spend anymore money.
There is a restaurant (Shrimp Haus), and a sports bar (El Jefe’s Sports Bar) in Schlitterbahn. After every three or four laps around the river, I also enjoy stopping off at Jefe’s Backyard for a drink. It’s important to keep the hydration up…
Next time we go to South Padre Island, we’re definitely spending a day at Schlitterbahn!
If you’re into deep sea fishing, South Padre Island Texas has it!
The story goes that South Padre Island is closer to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico than any other place along the Gulf coast. So you spend less time getting there, and more time fishing! Afterall, that’s why you’re there, right?
You can fish for Red Snapper, Grouper, Kingfish, Shark, and more.
Keep in mind that these fishing trips last anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, depending on what you choose. Fishing captains are typically not in the habit of turning back if one person gets sea-sick. Be sure to take motion sickness medication if you’re unsure how you’re going to handle the sea!
There are a couple of outfits that offer fishing trips in South Padre. We have used Osprey’s before and had a great time! I took my 12-yr old son on a trip recently and he caught his biggest fish ever! He was all smiles and that made me a happy dad!
Do you think horseback riding on the beach could be fun? I certainly do. If you agree and want to do it, the Island Equestrian Center is the place to go.
You don’t have to be an experienced rider to do this. Beginners can do it too. The guides are experienced and they take good care of everybody.
The rides take you out along the beach, and you’re allowed to let your horse go a little bit into the surf, which is a lot of fun.
Horseback riding on the beach in South Padre Island Texas is fun activity that the whole family can enjoy!
A really great, value-for-money place to take the kids while on vacation in South Padre Island is the Dolphin Research and Sea Life Nature Center.
The kids can get a hands-on experience at the touch tanks, where they can touch sea creatures. Their dolphin experience is also among the best you will experience anywhere. Captain George is an excellent, informative guide who tries to give you the best experience ever!
The Center is located in Port Isabel right by the Light House Square and Pirate’s Landing restaurant. Worth a visit!
Taking a few sandcastle lessons can add an interesting twist to your vacation.
Andy Hancock has been teaching people how to build sandcastles for a number of years. He’s a nice guy who is very skilled at building sandcastles, and he enjoys teaching people his craft.
Here is more about sandcastle lessons in South Padre.
If you’ve never been to South Padre Island Texas, you have to go! It’s a blast!
South Padre used to be overrun with college students over Spring Break and the usual advice was to avoid it then. However, Andy Hancock tells me that it is not the case anymore.”The days of out-of-control kids everywhere have long gone… Spring break is now being aimed at families on the island,” he says.
C’mon summer… c’mon South Padre!
PS. Also see our page on South Padre Island hotels.