SUNLOVERS HAVEN # 3 SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS
I love SouthPadre Island for many reasons. One is the proximity to my husband’s family.( I’m blessed to have the nicest, most loving and caring in-laws). Although my in-laws are native New Yorkers, they retired to South Texas in the mid-80′s and have called it home since.
But family aside, South Padre Island is definitely the gem of the state of Texas. Situated in the tropical tip of Texas, SPI is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay. The island is linked to the mainland by the 2 1/2 mile Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge. The island has 5,000 permanent residents, mostly retirees from the north seeking sun and warm weather ,and about 1 million visitors per annum.
South Padre is a huge spring break destination, as many travel sites proclaim, so if you are looking for a nice, laid-back get-away with your toddlers, word to the wise, AVOID South padre Island during spring break. This island becomes party central!
But if you are looking to book that long-awaited vacation with your family in tow, July and August, while charting some of the hottest days of the year, has its perks since it doesn’t get as crowded as spring break season. As these were the months when I went with my little kids in tow, I can say from first hand experience that using an SPF60 sunblock is extremely helpful!
For adrenaline-rush junkies there’s a lot of activities on the island that caters to this niche. Try bungee jumping at Louie’s Backyard, or go windsurfing. There’s also parasailing and surfing and it wouldn’t be Texas without some horseback riding, now would it?
South Padre Island also boasts of an emerging ecotourism industry . As its official website states:
“Ecotourism is vibrant with dolphin boat trips, birding and sea turtles. The Dolphin and Nature Research Center provides a hands-on encounter with the Gulf’s inhabitants and stresses the significance of conservation. With more than 306 recorded bird species, the Island has become one of the premier birding locations in the Western Hemisphere. Historic Port Isabel is located just over the bridge. It offers much of the same recreational activities.”
Accommodations on the Island run the gamut of your standard hotels and motels/inns to condos that cater to large families or groups. These condos whose owners mainly use their property for holidays and weekend get-aways on the island rent out their condos to short-term tenants/visitors through the building management’s office.
My family and I stayed at Sunchase Condos and were very pleased with its proximity to the beach. Because the sand gets a beating from the extreme July heat, we let our kids enjoy the pool first and walked to the beach when the sand wasn’t scorching our toesies anymore.
I can see why many Texans flock to South Padre for rest and recreation. Life on this island is idyllic and surreal. When you’re sitting on your balcony overlooking the breath-taking view of the Gulf of Mexico, you feel a certain serenity and then you understand, this is why people come here to retire.
Oh and for all you foodies… in Port Isabel, just across the bridge, is a hole in the wall dive called Manuel’s. If you want gut-busting, out-of-this-world, mouth-watering burritos, you cannot miss this place. The best burritos this side of the border! Just sayin’.