I’ve never been one to be able to vacation much but I recently realized that I’m the only one that can make it possible for myself. Thinking that vacations always had to cost tons of money and big airfare or hotel expenses it really did seem that such things would be totally out of my budget. I really lucked out though because my boyfriend lives in Brownsville, TX which just so happens to be only 30-40 minutes away from South Padre Island. Seeing how it was his birthday we had our very own little vacay day in South Padre and it was amazing and fun and there were no hotel or airline bills in sight!
If you’re thinking about making a trip to South Padre Island I have to tell you, there is so much to do there. At first glance you figure it’s some place you just hang out at the beach and sun or swim all day long. But truly, there’s so much more there!
I’ve always been interested on going on a dolphin watch but always figured it would be pretty expensive but it’s actually affordable in South Padre Island. We went on Captain Murphy’s Dolphin and Eco Tour and it was $10 per person PLUS we got a $3 off coupon to go bay or deep sea fishing (more on that later). Up above is the boat we rode and it was quite comfortable and even had on board bathrooms. The tour lasted about 1.5 hours making it well worth the cost and we did see dolphins! I think we either saw 3 sets of 2 or a the same set in different places :)
The eco portion of the tour starts off with a net being drug behind the boat for about 15 minutes. The boat starts off slowly so that the net can catch lots of sea life from down there. I was especially appreciative as having never been on any boat except gigantic ferries I was terrified of getting horribly sick. A little vial of Dramamine made all of the difference and I had a fantastic time!
We let the kids have the first part of the eco portion because it means seeing the sea life up close and personal. After interest waned for the littles Rob and I headed back to catch the tail end and we were quite entertained.
I’ve spoken about it briefly before but I am totally in love with the SPI Sea Turtle Rescue Center. Here they take in sea turtles helping with much needed conservation efforts for sea turtles.
These turtles are often injured with wounds like a missing fin or a big hole in their shells. These guys are taken in and given medical treatment and, if possible, returned to the wild.
There are some permanent residents though… This is Allison (same name as me :) and she’s actually got a prosthetic to help her swim due to losing 3 out of 4 of her fins from a predator attack. She swims in circles when in her tank all natural but this prosthesis helps her to swim normally and is the first of its kind to work. She is in no position to be returned to the wild and so she will live out her life here being cared for and generally being cute and showing people why these beauties need to be conserved.
There are many tanks where you can see other kinds of marine turtles, read lots of good info and there is even an area to the right where quick and informative lectures are given. The tone is a bit more serious for adults only but they take great care if there are littles in the audience to keep things a bit lighter (there’s even a fun costume an audience member can wear for a demonstration!)
The price for the Sea Turtle Rescue Center is by donation and the funds go to keeping the facility going and growing. I believe the suggested donation is around $4 per adult.
Up north just a bit is the South Padre Convention Center. It’s a spot of color on the bay’s coastline but it’s got an awesome little nature trail, Laguna Madre. This trail is free and you can see crabs scuttling around, including tiny ones moving around in a mishmash of colors, sizes and styles of shells. Lots of very pretty birds can be seen and there are 2 blinds where you can sit and wait or take a quick break to recharge. This trail is free but you can see the blinds and trail for the South Padre Birding and Nature Center right beside where the cost for adults for those trails is $5 and well worth it but plan to spend a good amount of time out there as the trails are much more substantial. If you just have a bit of time to kill between activities the Laguna Madre trail is well worth the trip!
After lots of running around we finished out the day with a bay fishing charter, again, with Captain Murphy’s. At $20 a person for 3 hours or so it was well worth the cost and we enjoyed it immensely. Basically you go on a boat out in the bay and they drive around until a good spot is found for fishing.
They provide the bait, the fishing poles and they even take the fish off of the line for you. You have to bait your own line first which I started off being squirmish about but quickly got into the spirit of it and was baiting hooks left and right :)
Going on the evening bay tour on a Friday we were able to see both a beautiful sunset and fireworks later. There are also fireworks tours for about $10 so this was an extra awesome bonus. Oooh, before I get to far, be sure to bring a cooler for your own drinks. It’s cooler on the bay at night but you still need to hydrate!
See that guy on the left? He’s Harley and he ran around the boat like a man possessed taking fish off of hooks for all of us with lines in the water. He’d grab them, put them on our line and head off to help the next person who yelled “fish on!” Being squeamish I especially loved this part of things because I was worried about taking the fish off of the hooks. It was awesome.
We finished the evening with a whole heck of a lot of fish and Harley even cleaned them for us in no time flat. We left around 10:30 pm and headed to Blackbeard’s Restaurant where they cooked our catch for us. We did have to pay for a you catch them type of plate with a salad and a baked potato for around $10 each and had blacked and grilled whiting caught by ourselves! To be honest, we weren’t exactly happy with our food as we both drove home with belly aches (the blackened fish was very greasy) but we will totally do this again at another restaurant as we were told almost all will cook them for you!
If you’re interested in visiting South Padre Island, visit their travel site for info on even more attractions than we visited in one day. It was a lot to do in a single day, really and would be much better leisurely spread out but we were on a vacay day not a vacay week :)
Oh, and there are beaches where you can swim too and they’re pretty awesome as well :)Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website