1. Rent a house on the beach
If your budget allows you to do so, I highly recommend staying on the beach. We rented a place through SPI rentals, that had its own private pool/jacuzzi and walkway to the beach. We got up every morning to watch the sun rise, walked down to the beach to look for seashells, and came back to make breakfast. It was definitely more intimate and private. The address for SPI rentals is 2600 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and the phone number is 956-572-6656.
2. Get up early to watch the sunrise
Sunrise was at 7:00 am when we visited in April. We got up every morning (except our last day because a cold front came in) to watch it. There's just something about a sunrise on the beach.
3. Watch the sun set
As much as I love a good sunrise, I love a good sunset just as much. The sunsets were incredible, especially if you're at dinner or enjoying a drink somewhere.
4. Rent bikes
Preferably from Wheels on Padre. They are closed Monday and Tuesday, but we arrived on a Wednesday and stayed until Sunday, so it worked out in our favor. We looked around before finding this place and the prices were anywhere from $30 a day to $50 a day. We then found Wheels on Padre and he offered it to us for $20 a day. We then added another day and got another bike for my husband, and the owner only charged us $15 per bike for another day, instead of $20. The owner was super friendly, and recommended some things to see and do. Their address is 2500 Padre Boulevard Suite 1, South Padre Island, TX 78597 and their phone number is 956-299-4562.
5. Visit South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center
This place is a must. Not only do you learn about and see a variety of birds and wildlife, but you get a good exercise at the same time! There is over 3300 linear feet of boardwalk to walk along and check out birds, plants, butterflies, and even alligators! Apparently there are about 10-15 alligators living there now, and the babies that were just born are the third generation. We spotted two baby gators when we visited, along with a blue crab, ducks and their babies, terrapins, and more. For more information about SPI Birding and Nature Center, their website is http://www.spibirding.com/.
6. Visit Sea Turtle Inc.
Again, this is a must, and right next to SPI Birding and Nature Center. This facility operates solely on donations and what is purchased through the gift shop. They are a nonprofit that doesn't receive any funding from the government. The donations they receive basically help keep this place intact and these turtles alive, while also teaching kids and adults about these magnificent creatures.
When we visited, the staff were very friendly and let us know a little bit about how they worked. Each turtle tank has a binder that tells you about the turtle and its story (why it is there). Some turtles unfortunately are unable to go back into the wild due their injury or condition, but a lot of turtles are rehabilitated and released back into the water. If you are interested in going, their address is 6617 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597 and phone number is (956) 761-4511.
7. See the "White Sands" of SPI
Head north on State Park Rd 100/Ocean Blvd., past the convention center, until you reach SPI Adventure Park (about 7 miles). You will see the sand dunes along the way and as you continue on, you will see the sand start to make its way onto the road, almost making it impossible to drive forward. Up north near the Adventure Park, there aren't any hotels or places to stay. People come this way to usually camp or get away from the "hustle and bustle" of SPI. I'd recommend this place for sea shell hunting too. We found so many more sea shells than where we were staying, and there were so many different kinds and sizes. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
8. Have a drink on the water
There are plenty of places to grab a drink and enjoy the salty air, fresh breeze, and sound of seagulls squawking. Every place we went was biking distance and most of the time we did bike there. Make sure to get there at least an hour before sunset if you want to get a good seat.
9. See some dolphins!
This was at the top of my list of attractions when we planned this SPI trip. When we were trying to find a place that did dolphin watches, we couldn't find any that did them in the morning. All of the reservations started at 11am or 1pm. We also couldn't find something that was more of a private tour rather than 50-100 people jammed onto a boat. I stumbled upon the Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center and saw that George and Scarlet offer a more intimate encounter with dolphins, and have been doing this for 18 years. They can only fit 6 people on the boat, making the experience better than I imagined. We were lucky enough to see what seemed like 20 dolphins, maybe more, the whole entire hour we were out on the water. George even answered questions that we had about the dolphins. And, he had his dog Gorgi on board who seemed to really enjoy being the dolphin whisperer. I highly recommend this if you are wanting to see dolphins. The address to the Nature center is 10 N Garcia St, South Padre Island, TX 78578. If you want to reach them by phone to book an appointment, the number is 956-299-1957, but you need to text instead of call.
10. Explore Port Isabel
Port Isabel is just across Queen Isabella Causeway, coming from South Padre. Port Isabel has an HEB, Walmart, DQ, Wingstop, Subway, Pizza Hut, Whataburger, Church's, Dominos, Walgreens, and more. But, what you really should go see, is the area right off the bridge near the Lighthouse. There are beautiful and colorful shops, art galleries, and restaurants that are worth exploring. Plus, you have to stop at Los Cabos for a breakfast taco before heading back home, they are easily the size of your face, if not bigger.
11. Eat Seafood!
Last but not least, eat all the seafood while visiting! Shrimp, crab, lobster, fish, and more shrimp!
And that's a wrap! Hope you enjoyed my second blog post, since returning to the game. My next post may have something to do with Regina or shoes. Stay tuned!