Way down in South Texas there is a little piece of beach paradise found on the Gulf of Mexico on South Padre Island. Yes, this little island has a reputation for being a great place for spring break, and it kinda is… But when spring break is over or before the crowds come in, this lovely beach town has so much more to offer than a cocktail in hand, and the south padre island activities are endless!
We always enjoy our time on SPI so I put together this guide on how to have the best time on South Padre Island, including the best places for: fun activities, adventure, leisure, learning, sight seeing and so much more! So get ready because we are going to discover the best South Padre Island activities for the whole family!
A guide to camping on the island: What Are The Best South Padre Island RV Parks
*FREE South Padre Island Activities*
Take a Stroll on the sand and enjoy a beach day
The best part about South Padre Island are the beautiful beaches! If you love the beach and live in Texas, then you have no excuse for not coming down, and for those who don’t live in Texas, now you know and can plan a road trip to visit.
The shoreline has miles of beach, so its so easy to take a long stroll down the beach because it feels like it never ends. And the water, well its bluer than what I remembered from the 1st time we had visited. No, its not Mexico blue, but it is very nice and some days it appears much bluer than others. Oh, and one of the best parts is that the beaches here, they are dog friendly, so its the perfect place to bring your furry friend so they can enjoy the beach too.
Ride a Wave with Free Surfing Lessons – Our favorite of the FREE South Padre Island Activities
If you want to learn to surf, head over to Isla Blanca beach park on Sunday Mornings for FREE surf lessons offered by http://www.surfvive.org. Meet them on the beach behind the DJ Lerma Pavilion (the one closer to the jetty) at Isla Blanca Park, and look for the flag and bright colored surf boards from 10am to noon. It’s a great activity for a family vacation because all ages are welcome to join!
Buy local at the Sunday Morning Farmers Market
And After your Sunday morning surf lessons, you can head over the to the South Padre Island farmers market. It takes place every Sunday from 11AM to 1PM located at The Shores.
Lets Go Fly A Kite
There is no charge to fly to kite, but if you need to purchase one then head over to B & S Kites. No they don’t have a website, but they have a huge selection of kites and spinners and its fun just to walk around the store and look at all the stuff.
Did you know South Padre Island has a kite festival every year. The SPI Kite Festival takes place the first weekend of February. And it is the largest indoor kite festival in the USA.
Watch a SpaceX Rocket Launch
If you happen to be visiting South Padre Island when a SpaceX rocket is scheduled to launch then you can see the launch from the island. You can actually see the launch pad in the distance past Boca Chica Bay if you look for it. And if you want to drive over and visit the SpaceX facility, it’s about 40 minutes away located in Brownsville.
*Low Cost South Padre Island Activities* $20 and under
Bird Viewing at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
For one of the many low cost activities on the island, you can visit the South Padre Island Birding Center, located near the convention center. It’s considered the premier bird viewing location in the Rio Grande Valley located on South Padre Island. With a variety of activities to enjoy; boardwalk, bird blinds, viewing tower, alligator sanctuary and bird walk. You will learn about their mission to educate the public about the birds and their natural environment on South Padre Island and Laguna Madre Bay. So if you enjoy bird watching, this is something you should consider doing.
Visit the resident turtles at Sea Turtle Inc.– Our favorite of the low cost South Padre Island activities
And for the sea turtle fans, we have a place for you to visit too! Learn all about the mission of Sea Turtle Inc, from rehabilitation, education and conservation efforts. As they rescue, rehab and release injured marine turtle species. You can visit the resident turtles who can not be released back in to the wild and see the one who are at the hospital for rehab. Another great thing to look for during the summer months is hatchling releases, as some are open to the public.
Enjoy the view from Port Isabel Lighthouse
To see the lighthouse you have to cross the bridge and head back over to Port Isabel but its worth the short drive and then you can also visit the Port Isabel downtown area. But the best part is going up into the lighthouse, as its the only lighthouse that is open to the public where you can climb up and see the panoramic views. Note that the last ticket is sold 30 minutes before closing. And be sure to watch the wind forecast because it can close occasionally due to high wind.
Get ready for adventure at Gravity Park
Gravity Park is an adventure and amusement park on South Padre Island. They offer adult and children activities including: go-carts, mini golf, ferris wheel, trampoline, arcade and climbing wall. So it’s a great spot for the whole family.
Look for dolphins on a Dolphin Cruise or kayak around the bay
Enjoy a few hours on the water watching dolphins swim in the Laguna Madre Bay. As South Padre Island is home to the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and can be seen year round swimming around the island. You can also launch your kayak in the bay and enjoy some dolphin tours watching on your own. Just be sure to watch the tides as the current can make it difficult to paddle back.
*Moderate to High Cost South Padre Island Activities*
Horseback Riding on the beach
With miles and mile of shoreline to explore, there is no better place to experience this activity. South Padre Island Adventure Park offers morning, sunset and moonlight horseback rides.
Hire a charter to go fishing for the day
Fishing charters are very popular here, after all we are on an island. First decide if you want to go deep sea fishing trip or stay in the calm waters in the bay. Then decide if you want to spend a few hours or the whole day at sea. And then after you bring back lots of fish, you can take it to one of the restaurants that cook your catch – more on that later.
Rent a Sling Shot or Golf Cart
To get around, renting a golf cart or a sling shot is a very popular activity on South Padre Island. They can be rented all over the island. And are very popular on the weekends and holidays as the roads are filled with them. Lots of golf carts are decorated with lights and people are just having a great time driving them around. It’s a fun way to explore the island and you can rent them by the day or the hour.
Sunset Cruise – Our favorite of the High Cost South Padre Island Activities
After a day of adventure it was so relaxing to spend an evening on the water enjoying a tour of the island and taking in the beautiful sunset. With SPI Adventures you can experience a private cruise (from 2 to 6 people) on their comfortable pontoon style boats made for relaxing. This was something we really enjoyed and was one of the most fun things we did.
*Food & Evening South Padre Island Activities*
Enjoy Sunday Brunch at F & B
If you enjoy great food, one of the best places for Sunday Brunch is F & B. They serve creative brunch dishes along with bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Marys. But if you are not a breakfast person, don’t worry they have a fabulous dinner service too. It’s one of the best restaurants on the island.
Check out this guide on where to eat: The Best South Padre Island Restaurants To Enjoy
Cook your catch dinner options
A unique thing offered on South Padre Island is the option to have a restaurant cook your catch. Just bring in your fresh catch ready to cook and they will prepare it the way you like; fried, grilled, blackened, etc. There are a handful of restaurants that offer this service but all do it a little differently. Some of the restaurants that cook your catch include: Sea Ranch, Blackbeards, Painted Marlin Grill, Padre Island Brewing Co. and Cap’n Roy’s.
Watch the night sky light up at Claytons
When Clayton’s claims that they are the biggest beach bar in Texas, well, if think its pretty accurate. Its a huge bar located on the beach with chairs and umbrellas to rent during the day and then at night there is live music and fireworks on the Friday and Saturday night. Fireworks can also be found on Tuesday at Louis’s Backyard and Thursday at Isla Grand Beach Resort. Be sure to check the schedule as they only operate seasonly.
Go Have Some fun with all the South Padre Island Activities
I think you will be very pleased with the variety of South Padre Island activities for some great family fun. As we discovered there are all kinds of things to do from FREE up to expensive and everything in between. So regardless of your travel budget, you can have an amazing time as a solo traveler, a couple or traveling with friends or family and young kids. And if all you want to do is sit back and relax, hang out on the beach and drink margaritas, well you too have come to the right place. In South Padre Island there is a place for everyone!