Hotel room, schmotel room: Stay in a water tank. KOA campground will rent you one of three condos inside a round structure that was one of the island’s original water tanks. The other tank houses an exercise room, TV, and pool table. (KOA also rents cottages, some overlooking the bay, that sleep four to six people.)
It’s time to learn to surf. Rachel and Gene Gore, owners of South Padre Surf Company, will have you up on the board in no time with their lessons at Isla Blanca Park, near the jetties at the tip of the island—home of the island’s best wave action. From the safety of the sand, the Gores will teach you how to paddle out and, in one fluid motion, hop atop the board. Within an hour, you’ll likely be hanging ten.
Then, head over to the bay side to go parasailing with Coast Guard Capt. George Lopez, who will pick you up next to Coconuts Bar and Grill. You’ll take off from (and land on) his boat, sailing aloft 600 feet, eye-to-eye with the pelicans. It’s a heady feeling.
Too tame for the likes of you? Okay, then: Go skydiving. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll jump tethered to an instructor. Free fall for 60 seconds at up to 150 mph, then open your chute and float down for about five minutes from 5,500 feet.
Or, if you’d prefer, spend five-plus hours
about 20 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico, deep-sea fishing with the Captain Murphy gang—a third-generation fishing business—reeling in red snapper and perhaps ling, amberjack, grouper, and more (depending on what’s biting that day).
Blackbeards’—probably the best-known restaurant on the island—will happily cook your catch and sell you the sides (don’t miss the creamy coleslaw) to go with it. Didn’t catch anything? The menu offers a variety of freshly caught fish—typically flounder or grouper, depending on the season—along with shrimp and oysters, all in hearty portion sizes. This restaurant prides itself on handling big groups, so round up your entire adventurous crew for a big feed.
Drop by Louie’s Backyard and trade stories with other adventurers over a beer. Then get a little sleep—you’ve earned it—and set your alarm to rouse in time for one of the most spectacular beach sunrises you’ll ever witness.
Whether you’re at South Padre Island to relax with friends, frolic with the kids, or spoon under the June moon, leave plenty of
time to hang out on the island’s broad beach and enjoy the waves. Ride them, splash in them, or simply stick your toes in them: They’re South Padre’s star attraction.
KOA campground, 1 Padre Blvd., 956/761-5665.
South Padre Surf Company, Isla Blanca Park, 956/772-7272.
Parasailing, 2301 Laguna Blvd., 956/761-4218.
Skydiving, 6900 Padre Blvd., 956/744-5867.
Captain Murphy’s fishing, Sea Ranch Marina, 1 Padre Blvd., 956/761-2764.
Blackbeards’, 103 E. Saturn Ln., 956/761-2962.
Louie’s Backyard, 2305 Laguna Blvd., 956/761-6406.