South Padre Island is a haven exploding with nature. It’s the best place to go for a beach vacation from bright blue skies to turquoise waters.
The hot and humid climate in the summer creates the perfect environment to chill under an umbrella on the warm sand and sip on some coconut milk or go for a refreshing swim.
This skinny barrier island is found off the southern coast of Texas and offers lots of pocket-friendly activities if you’re on a budget. Heck, there’s free public transit so you can get from one point of the island to another and accommodation for $100 or less per night!
Here are some money-saving tips that can come in handy whenever you’re off to this majestic archipelago:
Build a Sand Castle
It may sound ordinary, but hey, it isn’t. The rich island sand makes it possible for you to build actual castles with stairs and bridges that stand two feet high. If you’ve got kids, the better! It’s the perfect bonding experience and allows you to put your creativity to the test.
The best part is that it’s not all about molding the best structure. It’s about fun! Pile some wet sand together, whether with your hands or with a bucket and shovel and laugh out loud whenever it hits your face or falls on you.
Go Up the Lighthouse
Port Isabel Lighthouse is a beautiful structure that provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding scenery as well as the nearby seas and the bridge to the island.
Sure, you’ll have to burn some serious calories going up the 100+ stairs of the lighthouse, but look at the bigger picture: Nothing could be better than sampling the best from one central place.
Munch on Some Yummy Food
Most of the meals come complete with an awe-inspiring view of the waters as they wrestle about and a relaxing sunset if you’re around in the late afternoon.
Some famous restaurants that offer more at an affordable price are The ceviche at the Painted Marlin Grill that enables you to enjoy some juicy steak as you behold the magnificent shades of purple and red in the sky. The chilled-out vibe in the place adds to the fun of eating there.
Looking for some seafood? Then the Sea Ranch restaurant is the place for you. You get to watch the sun turn in for the day as you feast on some red snapper and blackened shrimp.
Speaking of feast, one important thing to bring along on your holiday is an appetite as most of the meals are served generously in Texas.
Learn the Local History
The Port Isabel Historical Museum has treats for the young and old. Get to learn about the Champion family, which ran a store that currently contains the museum as well as the humble beginnings of Port Isabel.
Even if history isn’t your thing, the interesting way it’s presented will get your attention.
If you’ve brought your kids along, they may find the photos and text in the museum boring, but they’re sure to love the Treasure of the Gulf Museum that’s next door.
It has a section for the little ones with a table for drawing, a sandbox where they can dig for buried treasure, and a stage. Should you choose to stick around, you’ll get interesting stories of treasure in the sea, shipwrecks, and lost crews.
A great way to avoid the hassle is to buy an entry ticket that grants you access to the lighthouse, the museum, and the Treasures of the Gulf.
Watch the Amazing Sea Life in Action
More water means more sea life, and the islet offers nothing but the best to you on a silver platter. Just take a Sea Life Safari Cruise with Osprey Cruises, and you’ll learn all about sea creatures.
And that’s not even the best part. You get to touch the starfish, jellyfish, among other sea marvels as the crew offers some fun facts about them. You also get to see dolphins cavorting care-freely in the clear waters of the Laguna Madre.
Check out and Learn About Turtles
Calling all turtle lovers to the Sea Turtle Inc. facility in Laguna Madre. The institution was established by IIa Fox Loetscher in 1977 and is filled with all types of turtles and aims to rescue, rehabilitate, and release wounded sea turtles.
One particular special turtle that you should look out for is Allison, the turtle, who holds the record of the first turtle worldwide to use a prosthesis successfully.
The facility has friendly volunteers and docents who are more than ready to provide 411 on the patients swimming in the tanks as well as answer any question you may have.
Be at one With nature
You’ll witness a variety of creatures going about their activities in different locations from the time you step into the island. A great place to see butterflies, birds, and other exciting wildlife is the SPI Birding and Nature Center.
The center has 3,300+ feet of boardwalk and has informative signs almost everywhere that tell more about the establishment’s creatures. A bonus is the lush variety of vegetation that effortlessly adds a touch of color into the mix.
Add some excitement to the experience by trying to spot the insects and birds among the leaves without referring to the signs.
An excellent way to engage your kids is by taking a sheet of paper with photos of the birds that are available during your visiting time and figuring out who can identify the most species.
Watch alligators sunbathing on the banks of the marshland, see the variety of birds as they migrate north and south, and feel the cool breeze kiss your face as you make your way through the place. No matter what you’re into, you can rest assured that South Padre is the place to be for it. The above are just a few of the goodies you’ll encounter on the island. As we’ve seen from the above points, frugality doesn’t mean that you can’t have the time of your life.
Take some time off your busy schedule and see for yourself what the island offers. We promise you; you won’t regret it.