About South Padre Island, Texas
South Padre Island is located on the tropical tip of Texas and is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay. It has beautiful, clean, scenic beaches and warm waters. South Padre is the longest barrier island in the world and is popular for wave-seekers. The wind blows all year round at an average of 17 knots but is best in spring from March to June and in autumn from September to November when the water temperatures are warm. Board-shorts or a short wetsuit and sunscreen are recommended as the water temperatures are about 25°C . You will often find cold fronts between September and November where the Northerly wind blows at 35 knots or more. The South Westerly is more consistent and usually comes through after winter. Laguna Madre is a 209km long, shallow and flat lagoon. It is the length of Padre Island and a perfect spot for learning as the clear blue water is butter flat in some sheltered areas with a sandy bottom. The wind is usually stronger towards the middle of the bay. There are a few launch and set up areas around the bay, which are listed below;
- Dolphin Cove - This spot has superb flat to choppy clean water and small waves rolling in. Beware of the currents and boats. The best wind directions are the N, NE, S and SE from October to May.
- The Jetties - It is recommended more for the advanced riders and is the best spot for wave riding and jumping. The surf is good on a SE and the waves range between 1-3 meters. The best wind directions are NE and SE from October to May with daily wind speeds of 17 knots.
- The South Flats - The best wind direction at The South Flats is SSE from June to July with an average wind speed of 17 knots. The SE and NE winds make the water is extremely flat and shallow which makes it perfect for learning but can get choppy on a NW. This is a good spot for beginners to advanced riders. The South Flats has ample space to rig up your gear, launch and land. The wind gets a little gusty behind the Convention Centre on a SE, E but it smooths out as you go further out. You have to pay county fees to ride on the flat water.
- The North Flat - The North Flats is a super spot for beginners as it is flat and shallow. It is best to get there as soon as the wind picks up as it does get crowded at times. It is similar to the South Flats but has more space to rig up. The best wind directions are SSE and S from June to July. Kite downwind of the windsurfers. The North Flats is private property and you are required to purchase an annual pass through the South Padre Island Windsurfing Association which costs less than $20.
- The Race Flats - The Race Flats is similar to North Flats and is good on all wind directions. It is a perfect spot to learn kite surfing or to practice your flat water tricks. The South Padre Island races are held here. A 4x4 is required to enter the flats.
- Holly Beach - Holly Beach is recommended for intermediate to advance riders as there is barbed wire, fisherman, duck hunters and cactus at this spot. The water is also extremely shallow which can be dangerous. The launching spot is not great unless you are a member of the kite club; only then will you be able to launch from the safer spot which is on private property. The wind always blows at Holly Beach in Laguna Vista with wind speeds ranging from 14 - 20 knots from October to May. The best wind directions are NE, SE and SSE and the winds are clean and consistent here.
- El Fin - El Fin is situated north of Race Flats and is a popular spot to end a down-winder on a northerly wind. The waves are superb.
- Isla Blanca County Park - Isla Blanca County Park is situated north of Dolphin Cove and is a perfect spot on a southerly wind and is also popular to begin a down winder, shred some head-high waves and end at El-Fin.
- Boca Chica - Boca Chica is situated south of Dolphin Cove on the opposite side of the lagoon mouth. It is best on a N or NE which brings in excellent swell. The jetty that extends out to sea makes the waves super clean.
- Spoils - Spoils is situated in the middle of the bay on the opposite side of Wanna Wanna Beach Bar and The South Flats. The water is super flat and shallow and can be accessed by boat. It is best on a SE to E wind.
- Wanna Wanna - The Wanna Wanna Beach Bar is situated here and is a popular spot to end a down winder, where you can grab a delicious burger and a few beers to end off a good session. The best wind direction would be S to SE or N to NE.
- Fishing Shacks - Fishing Shacks is situated west of El Fin and the Southerly wind is the best direction for this spot.
Traveling to South Padre Island, Texas
The Brownsville Airport is 30 minutes inland of Padre Island, the Harlington airport is 45 minutes away and McAllen is a 90 minute drive. The Harlington airport is a much larger airport than Brownsville. You can catch the South Padre Shuttle from Harlington which only costs $20 to South Padre Island. You can hop onto The Wave, which is a free bus transportation route and loops the island every 30 minutes. It is recommended to hire a car if you would like to visit all the spots on South Padre Island. A 2½ hour drive further up you will find Corpus Christi, which is another amazing kiting spot.
Facilities At South Padre Island, Texas
There are a variety of activities available such as surfing, kayaking, wake-boarding, kite surfing, SUP, scuba diving, snorkelling, shopping, boating, dolphin and bird watching. South Padre Island is a popular tourist destination and has ample local stores, Mexican and seafood restaurants and the nightlife is great at the south end of the island. The Mexican border is 25km south.
The IKO Kitesurfing School Air Padre Kiteboarding has a centre on South Padre Island which is run by Phillip Money, the former US Production Board Speed Record Holder. They offer camps and lessons, from beginner to advanced all year round for kitesurfing, surfing, SUP, kayaking and wake-boarding. Contact them at www.airpadrekiteboarding.com
The Coral Reef Lounge and Wanna Wanna Beach Bar are local favourites on South Padre Island.