South Padre Island beaches are the main attractions for visitors and area residents traveling to the island. Unlike other coastal areas, there is no private beach to speak of on South Padre, creating open access to all the best beach areas and activities. Along Gulf Boulevard, the main island thoroughfare, beach access points are situated every couple of blocks or so for easy access to the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. The Texas beaches inside several county parks are very popular and are equipped with showers, restrooms, playgrounds, and picnic tables. Some even have large picnic pavilions. Past tall, meandering sand dunes lies crystal clear ocean, warm Gulf breezes, and unmatched Texas scenery.
South Padre Island Beach
Only 5 of 34 miles of Padre Island is officially designated as South Padre Island town. This leaves incredible expanses of undeveloped coast filled with tall sea grasses, windswept dunes, island wildlife and more to explore, often without others in sight. The main island beach is one long stretch skirted by myriad vacation rentals and hotels. It’s easy to find concessions renting umbrellas and beach chairs, no matter where on the beach you might wander. Along the north based jetties close to Isla Blanca Park is where the best surfing is, evident by the many surfers catching waves. Building sand sculptures is a popular activity. Lessons are offered from professional sculptors who have exhibited their craft on beaches around the world. Horseback riding is a great way to explore the coast too, with lessons for all levels available at the north end equestrian center. Bayside there is much to do, much of it based around strong wind currents: surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kiteboarding, and kite flying are most popular on the west bay. Boat charters–glass bottom boat rides, dolphin tours, fishing trips and more–are widely available on the bay side as well.
Isla Blanca County Park
Another of the main South Padre Island beaches is in Isla Blanca State Park, based at the southern end and open 24 hours per day. There is a campground and RV park with restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and food concessions. The park offers small beach cinderblock cabanas with beds, a cooking plate and counter top, a small fridge, and several electrical plugs. Some even have air conditioners. Lodging here provides a view of the beach just a short walk away. At the beach, the jetty is where most fish within the park, but you must reserve your spot ahead of time. Surf fishing is also popular. Anglers will appreciate Christ of the Fishermen statue (El Cristo de los Pescadores), a massive sculpture paying tribute to this one-time fishing village. The park accommodates small boats which makes excursions easier. The beach is wide with white sand and great for swimming. The park also offers games, a playground, and laundry facilities.
Andy Bowie State Park
Andie Bowie State Park is at the northern end of South Padre Island. There isn’t too much to the park in terms of trees and other greenery–the majority of it is a white gravel lot offering private RV sites. The attractive qualities include the beach, just a short walk away over tall sand dunes, and one of the only sandy South Padre Island beaches that isn’t brimming with people. The seaweed washing up on shore is removed each day by park staff, which is a nice perk. There is also Wi-Fi service and bathhouses available. Visitors can walk to several bars and restaurants easily.