By Plane -- The closest airports are the Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport (tel. 956/542-4373; www.flybrownsville.com) in Brownsville (about 28 miles southwest) and the Valley International Airport (tel. 956/430-8600; www.flythevalley.com) in Harlingen (about 40 miles west). All of the major car-rental companies have desks at these airports.
By Car -- From U.S. 77/83, which connects to Harlingen, McAllen, and Corpus Christi, take Tex. 100 east to Port Isabel and then across the Queen Isabella Causeway to the south end of South Padre Island. From Brownsville, take Tex. 48 northeast to Tex. 100.
A car is handy on South Padre Island, and parking and traffic congestion are not usually a problem except during spring break and on summer weekends. The town's main street is Padre Boulevard. It runs north-south down the middle of the island. Running parallel 1 block on either side are Laguna Boulevard (west) and Gulf Boulevard (east). You don't have to drive much once you're here since many of the major hotels, restaurants, and beaches are within walking distance of each other. Also, there is a free year-round bus service called The Wave (tel. 956/761-1025), which operates daily from 7am to 7pm. There are two different buses. Both run the length of the town, and one goes into Port Isabel (each is clearly marked). They pass every 30 minutes along Padre Boulevard.
Contact the South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, 600 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island, TX 78597 (tel. 800/767-2373 or 956/761-6433; www.sopadre.com), which operates a visitor center. The center is just a few blocks north of the entry point on the east side of the boulevard beside a Wells Fargo branch office. Hours are Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. On weekdays in the summer, the office stays open an extra hour later. You can pick up maps or talk to the staff for suggestions and advice.
Fast Facts -- Health services are available at Valley Regional Island Clinic, 3000 Padre Blvd. (tel. 956/761-4524). The post office is at 4701 Padre Blvd. and is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm, Saturday from 10am to noon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.