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Spread out at pristine Padre Island National Seashore

Another day in paradise at Padre Island National Seashore. Courtesy photo

Padre Island National Seashore is more than a nice beach; it’s also the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. With 60-plus miles of beachfront, there’s more than enough room to work on your tan, build a sandcastle, and swim in the Gulf of Mexico.

You can also fish the Gulf waves or the more quiet Laguna Madre, go birding in prime habitat for winged creatures, stargaze from the park’s night sky observatory, canoe or kayak, and comb the beach for shells at this National Park Service destination.

From mid-June through August, PINS holds public releases of Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings. Sea turtle eggs are brought to the park’s Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery for care and incubation. Once hatched, they are rushed to the Gulf shore for release into the waves under overhead coverings that protect them from hungry seagulls.

Kemp's ridley sea turtle hatchlings head for the Gulf of Mexico after being released by Padre Island National Seashore staff. National Park Service photo

The park is a haven for the endangered species' nests and has been involved in conservation efforts since the 1970s. When release dates are near, call the Hatchling Hotline at 361-949-7163 or visit the park’s Facebook page for more information.

For anytime of the year, and especially for first-time visitors, here are a few tips to help make the most of your time at this special place in the Coastal Bend.

  • Set your expectations. Padre Island National Seashore is not a beach resort; it’s a barrier island that’s meant to remain in its natural state as much as possible. No overnight lodging is available, only overnight camping. Non-campers can find hotel rooms on Padre Island and still enjoy the park during the day.
  • The Malaquite Visitor Center is a must-stop. Rangers at the information desk can answer your questions and advise you of any safety alerts. The center’s park store sells drinks, snacks, ice, and souvenirs. An exhibit area will get you up to speed on the park’s history, flora, and fauna. Restrooms and a picnic area are nearby.
  • Campsites are first come, first served, something to keep in mind during the busy season.
  • Prioritize. With so many things to do and see, resist the temptation to cram too much into one visit. Decide what’s most important and save the rest for the next trip. Hey, it’s a vacation, not a marathon. Enjoy!

For additional information, visit the Padre Island National Seashore webpage.

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