A Day on South Padre Island, Texas

Megan Aune

After spending the school year in Austin, I’m back home in the RGV. My friends and I are always trying to find ways to fill the sweltering summer days, and more often than not, we end up defaulting to a beach day! Whether you’re a local or visiting for the first time, keep reading for our quintessential day on South Padre Island.

Breakfast at Yummies

A day spent in the sun means fuelling up first thing in the morning! You’ll find there’s no shortage of seafood on SPI, but stop at Yummies Bistro for an expansive menu including fresh fruit, omelettes, and more. 

“Sea” the Turtles

Like see the turtles? Get it?? Anyway, this place is a must-see for any beach or animal lover. Sea Turtles, Inc. is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured sea turtles, educating the public, and assisting in conservation efforts. Starting at 10:30, 15-minute turtle talks are given periodically until the facility closes at 5. Come here to learn a bit about the wildlife in the area and see some for yourself!

Hit the Beach!

Well, duh, right? You’re probably at SPI for the beach. Still, this part is kind of customizable. Depending on the waves, you may want to consider picking up a boogie board or surfboard from one of the nearby shops. If you’d rather not get in the water, lay out on the beach or experiment with sandcastles. And if you’re here in late September or early October, check out the annual Sandcastle Days to see some of the most skilled sand sculptors and their elaborate creations. 

Lunch at Wanna Wanna

By now, you’re probably getting hungry, but that doesn’t mean the beach fun has to stop! Wanna Wanna Beach Bar and Grill’s beachfront location (with volleyball nets out front) makes it the perfect place to grab lunch without even having to rinse off. This place is a favorite of locals and is always filled with the sounds of laughter and live music. It’s also pet-friendly, and you may even spot a few friendly stray cats waiting around for you to drop your shrimp.

Go Bananas

I don’t care how old you are or how childish it seems–banana boat rides are it. Essentially, you board a slippery tube and get jerked around by a maniac on a jet ski (they’ll go easier on you if it’s your first time, though), trying not to fall off. It’s kind of like an oceanic roller coaster, and always results in lots of laughs. There are tons of providers of these rides all over South Padre Island, but here’s a link to one. Or, if you’re feeling more spontaneous, you can probably ask anyone working at a restaurant or hotel and they’ll direct you to the nearest stand.

Watch Some Dolphins

Who doesn’t want to go out into the middle of the ocean and feel like a Disney princess? Dolphin Watch Tours are a super fun and relaxed way to catch a glimpse of some more wildlife. Fair warning: it can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you’ll only see one or two, but there’s also a possibility you’ll have a dozen swimming alongside your boat. If you ask me, it’s worth it to wager on that.

Dinner at Padre Island Brewing Company

You may be surprised to learn that in addition to tons of seafood and cool wildlife, South Padre Island is also home to Texas’ second oldest brewery. Padre Island Brewing Company has something for everyone (and as a vegetarian, I can rarely say that on SPI). Whether you’re looking for pizza, salads, or some of the Island’s famous seafood, you’ll leave feeling satisfied and with something delicious still sizzling on your tastebuds.

Soak in the Sunset

This one is kind of difficult, because the sun sets on the opposite side of the island from the beach. The sunrise usually makes for better beach viewing, but if you have a difficult time rousing yourself for that (and I don’t blame you), try googling some of South Padre Island’s best sunset-viewing locations. Stop at Laguna BOB’s or try out a sunset cruise! 

Dessert at Dolce Roma

By now you’re hot, tired, and probably pretty sunburned. There’s no better way to end a beach day than with some smooth, refreshing gelato. Dolce Roma Cafe has multiple locations and a plethora of flavors, making it an easy and fun way to end your day on South Padre Island.