Welcome to my online gallery featuring photographs from the sandy beaches and cool gulf waters of South Padre Island and the surrounding area.
South Padre is a resort town on the barrier island of South Padre Island. More than 3,000 residents call this island home. The National Park Service controlled the island for many years, but in 1962, finally opened a portion of the island for settlement. The number or permanent inhabitants slowly grew, and now the economy relies mainly on tourism.
Before the NPS took over, the first European settler on the island was Padre Jose Nicolas Balli. He and his family established a cattle ranch in the early 1800s, but were eventually driven out by the Mexican-American War. Prior to the European’s arrival, the island’s inhabitants were local native tribes.
These days, since most of the island is made of coastline and beach, it has become a mecca for those seeking sun and sand. The lagoons on the east side of the island are popular for bird-watching, as the island falls on the Central Flyway, an important migratory route for hundreds of bird species. The American Bird Conservancy designated the island a “Globally Important Bird Area” because of its location and subsequent bird activity. The island draws birders from across the state as well as the country. Angling is also popular here, and the island plays host to several large fishing tournaments.
Connecting the mainland and Port Isabel to South Padre Island is the Queen Isabella Causeway. This 2.5 mile bridge spans the Laguna Madre, the salty body of water that separates the island from mainland, and is the only road between the two. The causeway was built in 1974 and replaced the old bridge.
West of South Padre and northeast from Brownsville, Port Isabel is home to shrimp boats, the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse, and some great Mexican food.