South Padre Island is one of a series of barrier islands that runs along the coast of Texas. South Padre lies at the southernmost tip of Texas with Laguna Madre to the west and the Gulf of Mexico to the east, giving this little island an unparalleled waterfront view. Opt for a vacation rental on South Padre Island or on one of the neighboring islands, and enjoy turquoise waters and bright sun. Book a stay at a South Padre Island vacation rental today. Here are the most beautiful places to check out in and around South Padre Island.

1. Breakers Boulevard, South Padre Island

If you want to go as far north as possible on South Padre Island where there are houses, opt for a place at Breakers Boulevard that puts you right on the Gulf. This area offers you privacy from exuberant tourists. Plus, you’re within a short drive of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and South Padre Island Adventure Park. Imagine beachcombing with your children in a quieter area or horseback riding among the surf. The Adventure Park boasts all sorts of activities from the aforementioned horseback riding to a petting barn, zip-lines, and beach bonfires.

2. White Sands Street, South Padre Island

White Sands Street is close enough to Breakers Boulevard to make getting to the Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge a quick jaunt, while it’s close enough to downtown South Padre for some more structured fun. Take advantage of the beach access, which gives you plenty of sand for sunbathing, or you can walk across the street to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Stroll along the boardwalks of the center with your kids, and keep an eye out for the unique birds and wildlife.

3. Gulf Boulevard, South Padre Island

Plenty of vacation rentals stretch along either side of Gulf Boulevard between Morningside Drive down to Haas Street. While this area has more people, it also has more eateries, stores, and rental shop, providing every amenity you could want while on vacation. There’s even a theater so that you can keep caught up on your movies while in town.

4. Downtown, South Padre Island

Downtown South Padre has the benefit of easy access to Queen Isabell Causeway, connecting the island to the mainland so that you can take a day trip to Brownsville or even down to Mexico. Book a charter at the Captain Bryan Ray Fishing Adventures for a unique family experience, opt for a boating tour around the lagoon using Isla Tours, or keep your boat at the Sea Ranch Marina. Grab a pizza at Gabriella’s, possibly the island’s best Italian joint.

5. Long Island, Port Isabel

If you want to stay within striking distance of South Padre Island but in a more intimate setting, get a vacation rental at Port Isabel’s Long Island. Long Island’s only a boat ride away from South Padre while boasting its own beach and golf course. Furthermore, several of the homes are on the water with boat docks for your family vessel. Take your kids to the pier, and go fishing. Don’t forget to bring along a picnic lunch for a relaxing afternoon.

6. Port Isabel

Port Isabel also offers several rental options, including those with direct water access. Unlike Long Island, it has more of a nightlife with several eateries and bars, museums, an historic sites. For instance, the Port Isabel Lighthouse—built in 1853—sits on a 50-foot hill and includes scenic viewing and picnicking areas. After visiting the structure, stop at Davey Jones Ice Cream Locker for a cool treat or enjoy dinner on the water at Pirate’s Landing. If you want to head to South Padre Island, Queen Isabella Causeway heading there starts right at the downtown area.

7. Laguna Vista

Laguna Vista, just a little west along the Texas coast, is only a 10-mile drive from South Padre Island. This small town offers some quality eateries, stores, rental agencies, and fishing charters, everything you need to explore Laguna Madre. If you want quieter water fun, lakes Laguna Larga and Vadia Ancha lie just minutes from the town. It boasts secluded beaches. If you ever get tired of the water, head inland because this town lies in Laguna Atascosa, a wildlife refuge featuring lush subtropical growth, coastal areas, and desert. Take the kids on a hike and look for the rare aplomado falcon or endangered ocelot.

8. Arroyo City

Arroyo City lies at the northern border of Laguna Atascosa on the Arroyo Colorado river and Laguna Larga. Rent some kayaks, and take the kids to explore the river and inlets or coves and wetlands of the lagoon. You can also boat over to South Padre Island, a few minutes away, to explore the sand dunes of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, or enjoy an afternoon at Island Adventure Park.

9. Port Mansfield

Port Mansfield might be a small community, but it’s spread out along the coast of Texas north of Arroyo City and west of South Padre Island, offering the perfect location to cut back and relax. A vacation rental on the water boasts individual piers and docks for you own use. Take your boat out to explore the nearby bays and beaches, or charter a vessel at Port Mansfield Marina or Y-Knot Rentals. The community is just big enough to offer authentic seafood and other eateries, ideal after a busy day on the water.