Nestled in the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville at the southernmost tip of Texas, South Padre Island is a mecca of delightful activities for families, singles, and couples. The island is just a half-mile wide, so you can enjoy ocean views from anywhere. After settling into your South Padre Island vacation rental, head out onto the beach to enjoy the sun, mild weather, and calm seas. Natural attractions abound on the island, so be sure to embark on a dolphin cruise, watch baby sea turtles launch into the water for the first time, or just take a stroll along the peaceful boardwalks. Check out a few more popular activities to do on South Padre Island.

south padre beach
Source: Flickr/Stuart Seeger

1. Visit Sea Turtle, Inc.

Get ready to lose your heart to some adorable sea turtles who are rescued, rehabbed, and returned to the wild from this amazing attraction. Sea Turtle Inc. played an instrumental part in bringing the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle back from the edge of extinction. Dozens of releases happen in the summer, and it’s a great hands-on experience to teach the kids the importance of protecting the world’s oceans.

2. Head to South Padre Island Adventure Park

Saddle up and gallop along the beach on the numerous horse riding tracks around the island. The sunset and moonlight tour are popular choices for many equestrians. Kids enjoy the petting zoo, and the hayride on the beach is a hoot. Zipline around the park on a circuit that lets you control how fast you go and doesn’t limit the number of times you can scream in excitement. There’s an automated brake system that frees you up to enjoy the scenery and stay safe.

3. Enjoy an Osprey Cruise

Board one of six fleet boats, and enjoy a different adventure each time. Cruise while watching the sunset as you enjoy a leisurely dinner with fresh seafood and excellent beverages. You can learn about the ecology of the Texas Gulf Coast while dolphin watching, or board the spectacular Black Dragon sailboat to find out how pirates lived as they sought out treasure. If you want an adrenaline rush, take the Thriller speedboat tour of the local fun spots at 50 miles-per-hour, and laugh at the antics of the dolphins attempting to keep up in the boat’s wake.

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4. Sign up for Sandcastle Lessons

There’s no better place to learn the art of sandcastle making than the South Padre Island, where magnificent beaches ensure you never lack adequate supplies. There’s more to building an awesome sandcastle than using a plastic bucket, however. Talented professional sand sculptors bring everything you need when you book a lesson with Sandy Feet Sandcastle Services. Taking your artwork home may be challenging, but you get some great pictures that show off your prowess to those at home.

5. Book a Fins to Feather Cruise

Hop aboard Captain Ford Locket’s vessel, the Laguna Skimmer, and head off on an extraordinary dolphin tour. The dolphins know the captain’s boat and come alongside to play. The Laguna Skimmer is a great choice, too, if you love to bird watch. The boat’s quiet and unobtrusive approach lets you view the birds undisturbed in their habitat while observing their natural behavior. The captain shares a lot about the island’s history and natural wonders, which helps you better understand the need for conservation and the protection of the incredible wild places that exist.

6. Check out Gravity Park

When you and the kids need a break from swimming and romping on the beach, head to Gravity Park. This attraction is located in the heart of the island’s entertainment district, a few steps from the beach. One Rocket, a reverse bungee ride, is considered to be the tallest in the world. You can see stunning views of the entire island from the Skycoaster, so don’t miss out. You and the kids can chug around in a go-kart, play a game of mini-golf, challenge a climbing wall, or relax in the arcade.

7. Explore With SegValley Tours

Discovering a new place on foot is a great way to get acquainted with its history and special attributes, but you can enjoy the best of both worlds if you ride a Segway. These tours get you around quickly, but you enjoy the details of sand, dirt, and grass, South Padre Island’s most prolific offerings. You can tour the 25 famous sand sculptures scattered around the island or follow the 7.2-mile loop through Isla Blanca Park, where pods of dolphins often frolic in Dolphin Cove.

8. Rent From South Padre Island Watersports

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to kayak, kiteboard, surf, or paddleboard but never had time or were afraid to try, this group of experienced instructors makes it easy to succeed. You work at your own pace and schedule, and they provide support and all the equipment you need. When you’re ready to go it alone, head out into the calm water of a protected channel and try out your new skills.

9. Opt for Off-road Beach Driving Fun

Pack a lunch and head to Andy Bowie County Park on the north side of the island. Climb aboard an ATV and zip along 20 miles of hard-packed sand as the wind blows through your hair. If you don’t have your own ATV, rent one from SPI Fun Rental. Stop for a picnic along the beach, or shelter from the sun in a large pavilion. There’s a swimming area, a great place to fish, and food concessions when you need a snack.

10. See Wyland Whaling Wall Number 53

Don’t miss the enormous, magnificently life-sized Orca whale paintings on the South Padre Island Convention Center. Stand before these amazing images, and leave with a deep appreciation of aquatic habitats and the lives within them. South Padre Island proudly represents one of 79 cities in 17 countries and five continents. Artist Robert Wyland and his foundation completed over 100 of these extraordinary murals in public places 27 years after beginning the endeavor.

 
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