37 miles SE of Corpus Christi; 180 miles S of San Antonio; 414 miles S of Dallas
Some 70 miles of delightful white-sand beach, picturesque sand dunes, and warm ocean waters make Padre Island National Seashore a favorite year-round playground along the Texas Gulf Coast. One of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline in America, this is an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, beachcombing, windsurfing, and camping. It also offers excellent bird-watching opportunities and a chance to see several species of rare sea turtles. The island was named for Padre José Nicolás Balli, a Mexican priest who, in 1804, founded a mission, settlement, and ranch about 26 miles north of the island's southernmost tip.
Padre Island is a barrier island, essentially a sandbar that helps protect the mainland from the full force of ocean storms. As with other barrier islands, one of the constants of Padre Island is change; wind and waves relentlessly shape and re-create the island, as grasses and other hardy plants strive to get a foothold in the shifting sands. Padre Island's Gulf side, with miles of beach accessible only to those with four-wheel-drive vehicles, offers wonderful surf fishing, while the channel between the island and mainland -- the Laguna Madre -- offers excellent windsurfing and a protected area for small powerboats and sailboats. This area was only lightly affected by Hurricane Dolly and should not be confused with South Padre Island.