My family and I were invited to visit South Padre Island on behalf of the South Padre CVB and Texas Travel Talk. As always, all opinions are my own.
Living in Texas, my children often request to take a trip to the beach. While we’ve taken them to Granbury Lake, which is about 45 minutes from Fort Worth, there’s nothing like going to a real beach along the gulf coast. When we were invited to visit South Padre Island, I knew it would be a great experience for all of us — especially my children.
August was the perfect time to visit South Padre Island, which is deemed the longest barrier island in the world. The weather was amazing, the crowds were low and the timing was great!
With four children ranging in age from 13-1, sometimes it can be a challenge to find activities everyone will enjoy… but South Padre Island makes it easy!
As soon as we crossed over the Queen Isabella Causeway, we jumped on a boat for an afternoon Firework and Dolphin Sunset Cruise with Osprey Cruises.
Once we boarded, our captain introduced himself and took song requests, which quickly turned our ship into a party boat …only putting a short pause in the dancing to watch the dolphins and soak in the sunset. It was a great welcome to the island, and nice that my children could get their wiggles out after our long drive.
On Friday nights, you can watch the fireworks from several areas of the island, but there is nothing like watching them from the bay!
Sea Turtle Inc.
On Saturday, we planned a visit to the world renowned Sea Turtle Inc. This organization has dedicated itself to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles.
April through November is sea turtle nesting season on South Padre Island. Sea Turtle Inc. identifies these nests and moves them to a safe compound until hatched. There are dozens of scheduled releases during the summer months. It would be fun to plan your vacation around a release — make sure you check the calendar! How fun would it be to wake up and watch as tiny sea turtles enter the ocean for the first time?
Sand Castle Building Lessons
By far, this was my teenager’s favorite activity on the beach, though my other children loved it, too. Sand Castle Building Lessons are taught by Andy Hancock, an award-winning sculptor who specializes in generating unique ideas, alongside communities, in art and sculpture.
Andy was great with the children, teaching lessons on their level and showing them that “creativity is only limited by the imagination” . He was so patient, and I know my children (ages 13, 10 and 7) could have spent much longer than three hours with him!
My children were engaged in the activity, they worked together to help get the castles built and the outcome was worth it!
Watch for my full story on sand castle building lessons, coming up on Texas Travel Talk.
Fiddler Crabbing at Night
So. fun. I am glad I packed flashlights because this is an activity my children will remember! After a long day, we grabbed a bucket and our lights, then walked the beach hoping to find fiddler crabs (aka ghost crabs.)
I think we caught about 15 crabs, but that’s because my children were hunting every inch of our path! These crabs are tiny – most fitting in the palm of your hand – which makes them super fast! They don’t pinch too hard, but try to grab them from behind if you are concerned.
Before we left the island, we made our way to the very end of the island. As we drove down, we came across an amazing view of sand dunes! This is definitely a sight to see. (*Note: I took off my shoes and walked to the top of a dune, to take a look at the gulf on the other side. That sand is HOT and it’s a chore to get across! Keep that in mind if you want your children to walk with you.) Even if you don’t get out of the car, it’s fun to see! (Click on the two dots under the road sign to watch the video below.)
“The dunes offer a scenic backdrop to our beaches, but more importantly, are integral parts of a dynamic environment controlled by waves, tides, currents and wind. Beaches and dunes are our first line of defense against storms and flooding. Coastal communities are protected from the storms that occur in the Gulf by a system of vegetated sand dunes which provide a protective barrier.”
South Padre Island is proactive in ensuring its dune system is protected and encourages the growth and propagation of vegetation that supports the natural and artificial building of dunes.
There is so much to do along the island’s five-mile stretch, and I’d definitely recommend visiting for at least 3 or 4 days.