Bird-Watching -- More than 300 species of birds can be found during different times of the year. The Laguna Madre Nature Trail, adjacent to the South Padre Island Convention Centre at the north end of town, is a boardwalk that meanders out over the wetlands of the Laguna Madre and around a freshwater pond. There are a few blinds where you can set up a scope and sit for hours unseen by the birds. The boardwalk is wheelchair accessible and open 24 hours, free of charge. For birding tours in the bay, contact George and Scarlet Colley of Fins to Feathers Photo Safaris (tel. 956/739-2473; www.fin2feather.com). They take small groups out into the Laguna Madre for 3-hour trips.
Dolphin-Watching -- Dolphin tours are a big activity on this island. For a great tour limited to small groups, contact Fins to Feathers, listed above. Scarlet Colley is a dolphin researcher and has filmed many hours of dolphin activity. The tour lasts 1 1/2 hours. Another option is to take a large-boat tour, which you can sign up for at the marina, at the southern end of the island. There are a couple of companies that offer tours. The preferred one is the Original Dolphin Watch (tel. 956/761-4243).
Face to Face with a Sea Turtle -- Each of the seven worldwide species of sea turtles is either threatened or endangered, and five species are found in the Gulf of Mexico. Ila Loetscher, affectionately dubbed the "Turtle Lady," founded Sea Turtle, Inc., in 1977 to help protect the most endangered species of sea turtles, Kemp's ridley. The organization supports conservation and rehabilitation of all marine turtles, and operates a rehabilitation center where you can see four of the five Gulf of Mexico sea turtle species. Volunteers give presentations with live sea turtles Tuesday through Sunday at 10am, which help you identify the different species and explain how each of us can help protect them. Self-guided and guided tours of the facility, including the turtle tanks, are available at other times. Sea Turtle, Inc., is located at 6617 Padre Blvd. (tel. 956/761-4511; www.seaturtleinc.com). The suggested donation is $3 for adults and $1 for children. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Allow at least 45 minutes, and please buy something in the gift shop -- all proceeds go to saving the sea turtles!
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.