My last weekend living in Texas, the coast was calling my name. I decided to take one last road trip down to South Padre Island (SPI). It was about 2 AM CT and I couldn't sleep any longer. I hopped in my Wrangler and headed for the beach. SPI is about a 5-6 hour trip one way from Austin, and is a fun drive in my opinion. The island is also a huge Spring Break destination, so plan your time there accordingly!
If you have not driven near the border of the United States and Mexico before, be prepared that you'll go through check points, (even driving north of SPI) that are full of dogs and border patrol officers. The areas between Austin and SPI are filled with a true rural Texas skyline - desert, palm trees, and lots horses and cattle. It is a super peaceful drive. Put those windows down and bump your favorite tunes! The weather here is perfect almost year round. I got a gnarly sunburn when I went in February and it was already 80 degrees!
Once you get there, South Padre Island is totally chill, minus the fact the NO ONE in SPI gave me a Wrangler Wave back!!! Nevertheless, Bella and I rode on to explore what the island has to offer.
First, you drive on to the island from an awesome bridge. (Side note: if bridges scare you, you might want to sit in the passenger seat and take the pictures.) The bridge takes you over clear blue water to the main strip filled with your typical beach shops, ice cream, and souvenir shops. Once you really dig into the culture, you'll discover the fun beach activities going on all around you - kiteboarding, surfing, flyboarding, zip lining, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, bonfires, and more!
You can find a ton of great food here and there are lots of beautiful places to check out. Parking is pretty minimal, so be prepared to walk far if you don't plan ahead. As always, the further you get from the main attractions, the more space you'll find. A few things you can do at South Padre Island:
To be honest, South Padre isn't extremely off-roading friendly. If you're itching to do some donuts on the beach, head towards the South Padre Island Kite Boarding Ranch and you can find some spots to hit the sand around there. If you keep driving towards the end of the road, you'll see the South Padre Sand Dunes where you can get some really cool pictures too.
Head down Ocean Blvd (State Park Rd 100) and you can find a place to camp. You pay a one time fee for a permit and you can camp there the whole season. You can also camp at Andie Bowie County Park, Isla Blanca Park, and South Padre Island KOA.
If you're an adrenaline junkie like me, skydiving over SPI may be right up your alley. I never jumped in Texas, but I went skydiving awhile back for my 21st birthday...truly the most fantastic experience. I highly recommend it to everyone. You can click here to learn more or book your reservation.
Andie Bowie County Park
If you're looking for calmer beach experience, you can head to the Andie Bowie County Park and take a stroll, soak up some sun, or dip your toes in the water. There are a TON of seashells all over this beach if you're a collector. You can also kick back with a book or even camp in peace. You can't drive on this beach, but you can bring your dog, pitch a tent, and park your RV here (for a fee). It is totally family friendly.
Point Isabel Lighthouse
If you love a good view, check out the Point Isabel Lighthouse. This is the only lighthouse available to the public on the Texas coast (😱).
This lighthouse is open 7 days a week from 9 AM to 5 PM CT. It costs $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for students. (Not sure about a military discount, but I would ask...y'all deserve it!)
Overall, South Padre Island has a little something for everyone. It is more of a commercial beach than an off-roading paradise, but the views are fantastic. This beach is a great place to kick it with some friends.
Have questions about SPI or my adventures? Hit me up and lets chat! Thanks for reading 😄🚙👋🏼
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