Texas, Where We've Been

Padre Island National Seashore

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Padre Island National Seashore

Just off the southern coast of Texas is a group of long chain sandy islands. On the inland (west) side lies a bay of very calm salt water and on the east are the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Corpus Christi is the nearest large city, but as you go further out onto the island the people sightings become much more sparse.

Padre Island is one of those island chains with a seashore width of only 2 miles, but with a length of over 113 miles. The paved road ends only a few miles into the the National Seashore site, but what is so neat about this area is that the road continues as hard-packed sand along the beach for another 64 miles. I’ve been told by people visiting the area that to drive that stretch of beach is an adventure but one that is not without risks. Rising tides and loose sand are among the hazards of driving the beach, but people still drive and camp on its sandy shores. 


Yes, there is a 15 mph speed limit sign posted on the beach. The hardpacked sand was easy to drive on. Four-wheel drive was not necessary, but if the tide forces you up the shore, the sand becomes loose and getting stuck is a possibility. There are people who will come and pull you out though should you get stuck and it’s free for them to do it. They are apparently a volunteer group who loves to “play” in the sand and help others when needed. I did not get stuck, so I have no personal experience with them.

Standing atop a sand dune on the gulf side of the island, the inland shore can just be seen on the horizon. 

There’s not much keeping Padre Island a viable land mass. Over time the sand piled up and plants grew out of the sandy soil. If and when a hurricane ever came in, it can change the shape of the land.

Just a few feet away from our campground, the beach comes calling. Even in the populated areas of Padre Island, the beachgoers are sparse. There are a lot of jellyfish along this beach that in summer, sea turtles love to frequent the area. We saw a number of crabs here as well.

The way that the gulf stream flows, it tends to make its way north along the coast of the southern U.S. and from the south along the border of Mexico. They meet in the middle around Padre Island. This is both a good and bad thing. The good news is that the temperature of the water is reasonably warm.

The bad is that since this is a convergence of two continents, a lot of the trash from the Atlantic ends up here. There are constant clean-up efforts that meet regularly to keep the beaches clean. The man who worked at the visitor’s center told us that a lot of what he has seen recently has been porches that wash up on shore. After a hurricane or flood, debris ends up in the ocean and has a good chance of eventually being deposited at Padre Island.

The wildflowers growing on the dunes are simply magical when the sun is rising and setting. The sky glows in orange and purple hues and the flowers seem to embrace it. (I did enhance this one to be more pastel)

Birds of many different varieties are everywhere on the island. Pelicans, seagulls, ravens, and so many more like to use the piers, docks, and stumps as perches to look out at the water.

On a very foggy morning, we made our way down to a place called Horses on the Beach. The last time the kids had been on a horse was when they were 2 and 4 and don’t really remember much. We decided to change that. Ellie got to ride a white horse named Blue Duck.

And Jaden rode a beautiful brown horse named Astro.

A couple of birds sit on the pier on a foggy morning at Padre Island. This is the pier at our campground.

This bird was putting on a show for me. BEAUTIFUL bird!

These black birds liked to fly in and out of the bushes around the campground. There must have been 50 of them playing in the bushes. One would land, another would take off. It was like they were playing a huge game of tag in and out of the flowers.

Of course nothing beats making sand castles. The kids spent all their free time on the beach making awesome formations. Castles, volcanos, mountain peaks, underground houses. 

This has been one of my favorite places to visit. I would love to be able to return.


Malaquite Campground

Malaquite Campground is located within the National Seashore. It does not take reservations, but we had no problem finding an open site. There are no hookups at the campground so be prepared to boondock. There is a free dump with fresh water just before entering the campground.

Starlink was 129 down and 15 up. We didn’t have a Verizon signal on our phones and instead used wifi calling. With the cell antenna though, we were able to get AT&T at 3 bars and Verizon with 3 bars. The Verizon connectivity was spotty throughout the National Seashore.