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It’s not hard to get off the beaten track on South Padre Island – and that’s its charm. Eco-tourism is important to the area and wildlife watching can keep you busy. There are several other fun, unique beach activities that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages.
Hikers enjoy the trails through the 45,000 acre Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, one of the top bird watching destinations in the United States. You may even see jagarundi or an endangered ocelot. It’s about an hour’s drive from the Island.
Nature lovers should attend a “Turtle Talk” at Sea Turtle, Inc. This fun and educational center aims to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles as well as educate the public. You can see and experience sea turtle life through their interactive tours. Don’t forget to learn about the legacy of the Sea Turtle Lady. The center is located at 6617 Padre Blvd and is closed on Mondays.
Bird watchers flock to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center - a preserve on 50 acres near the Convention Center. Hike through dune meadows, salt marsh and inter-tidal flats that attract migrating birds. The area is known for water birds, tanagers, warblers, and vireos. The center provides one of a kind opportunities to learn about birds and birding on South Padre Island – along with some incredible scenery. This premier location for bird watching can be found at 6801 Padre Blvd.
Learn about dolphins at the Dolphin and Nature Research Center, and see exhibits about local biodiversity and area sea creatures. Bay tours are a popular way to see dolphins in the wild. Dolphin tours are offered by a handful of wonderful operators on SPI.
South Padre Island Adventures offers a variety of unique activities for the area. Enjoy horseback riding on the beach, rent ATV’s, or even zipline!
History fans will enjoy the Port Isabel Historical Museum at 317 E. Railroad Ave. Exhibits trace the area's history from the early Mexican days to its modern role as a fishing and tourism center.
South Padre Island has a beach full of great sandcastle building material and you can take a private or group lesson with the local pro’s. Sandcastle building is a unique way to have fun on the beach and a great family activity. Sandy Feet, Amazin’ Walter & Andy are all local favorites.
Kite flying is another SPI favorite. Stop by B & S Kites or a local souvenir shop to pick up a kite and try out this extraordinary way to have fun on the beach.