North Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi

North Padre Island National Seashore is a little overwhelming when you first visit, especially if you choose to venture past the Malaquite Beach Visitors Center!   While much of the beach requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and a love for isolation, there is much to the park that anyone and everyone can enjoy, even in your family hybrid!   Go out, enjoy and make plans to do it again, each time venturing further out onto the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world!

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Know Before You Go

There is a gate and an entrance fee, $10/car, and includes everyone in the car and is good for 7 days.

An Annual Padre Island Pass is $20/car, and includes everyone in the car for one year.

A National Parks Pass is $80, and is good for one year.  It will not only get you access to the Padre Island National Seashore, but also the National Parks in Texas, Big Bend and Guadalupe Peak, as well as entrance to all of the Corp. of Engineer Properties, over 25 in Texas, with more in driving distance in Oklahoma and Arkansas!  Click HERE for more information.

Beach wheelchairs are free to borrow at the Malaquite Visitors Center.

Padre Island Safaris

When you start asking around Padre Island for guides, the name that will constantly come up is Padre Island Safaris and Captain Billy Sandifer!  A fishing guide, birder, writer and naturalist, he can take you almost anywhere on the island, and tell all about it’s history, flora and fauna!  Click HERE to visit his website.

Fishing

Fishing in the Padre Island NP requires a fishing license.  There are several guide services that are recommended by the NP, click HERE to visit their website.

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Malaquite Beach Visitors Center

We were surprised at all the amenities offered at the Visitors Center!  There are full restrooms and showers, beach showers, an interpretive area and gift shop!

My kids loved earning their Junior Ranger badge while at the beach, and their Adopt-A-Beach patch for picking up one bag of litter off the beach!  The Visitors Center even supplies the trash bag!  For more information, click HERE.

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Sea Turtles and Sea Turtle Releases

The most popular activity during the summer at the Malaquite Visitors Center is the release of hundreds of newly hatched sea turtles each year!

Releases are scheduled when they anticipate the eggs hatching, and various factors can affect those times.

For more information, click HERE!

We love camping on the beach, just to spend the evening walking the beach in hopes of spotting a sea turtle coming ashore to nest or an undetected nest hatching and making their way to the water!  If you EVER spot a turtle, tracks or nest, there are VERY specific things the park ask you to do!  Click HERE to read all about it!

When searching for turtles, nest or tracks at night, use a red light instead of a bring flashlight to keep your eyes accustomed to the dark for better night time vision!

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Night Sky Observatory

Located in the Malaquite Visitors Center parking lot is the Night Sky Observatory, that allows you to see the sky above with minimal light pollution from Corpus Christi.

They also have star parties here.

Head onto the beach, as little as 5 miles south of the Visitors Center, for a dark sky, and it just gets better the further you go!  Remember, 4 wheel drive ONLY is recommended after 5 miles, and take PLENTY OF WATER, just in case you do get stuck!

For more information, click HERE.

Malaquite Beach

The beach in front of the Visitors Center does not allow cars to drive on the beach, and is perfect for families with young children, with nearby restrooms and outdoor showers!

There are not lifeguards on the beach. Check with the Visitors Center for advisories before swimming.

Dogs are not allowed on this portion of the beach.

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Malaquite Campground 

Just North of the Visitors Center is the Malaquite Campground.  Tent Campers and RVs can camp here, or tent campers can park here and set up on the beach.

Each of the 48 sites comes with a picnic table and grill.

Reservations are NOT accepted, and camping is on a first come basis!

No ground fires are allowed, here or on the beach.

Leashed pets are allowed here.  Pets are only not allowed on the section of beach immediately in front of the Visitors Center.  Please remember plenty of bags to pick up after your pet!

Payment is made at a self-registration kiosk, use correct change and credit cards are accepted.

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Bird Island Basin

Located on the other side of the island, which is extremely narrow at this point, and facing the Laguna Madre is Bird Island Basin.

The quiet waters of the Laguna Madre are perfect for fishing, kayaking, SUP paddleboarding, windsurfing and much more!

There is a boat ramp, and they offer kayak and windsurfing rentals, as well as windsurfing lessons!  Because of it’s terrific location, it’s rated by Windsurfing Magazine as the best flat water sailing site in the continental USA!  Click HERE to read more!

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Bird Island Basin Campground

There are dry camping sites on this side of the island.  All camping is first come, no reservations are accepted.

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North Beach

North Beach offers beachgoers  a place to drive on the beach, spend the day or camp!  A short walk to the Malaquite Visitors Center, it was the perfect location for us to set up camp one evening, so that we could wake up a little later and just walk to the turtle release scheduled the next morning!

Park as close to the dunes as possible to avoid blocking traffic on the road.  During high tide, the water comes almost all the way to the road, so watch where you park!

There will be occasional cars driving on the beach road during the day and evening, so keep an eye on young children!

Even during summer, we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves on a weekday. Don’t expect the same during the weekend, when it is busier, but you can still find a spot!

Fires are allowed in a grill or a pit dug in the sand, so bring a shovel and be sure to fill it back in when you are finished!

Watch for sea turtles coming ashore during the night to lay there eggs.  Do not touch the eggs and immediately report it to

Although North Beach allows 2 wheel drive cars, watch for deep sand.  If you get stuck, a wrecker will more than likely NOT come out to get you, although we had some luck with AAA.  Be prepared to ask a fellow beachgoer with a truck to pull you out, keep some cash handy as a thank you, and have plenty of water in your car in case you have to wait!

For more information on North Beach, click HERE to visit the official website.

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South Beach

Nothing beats watching the sun rise on South Beach!  If you have a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle, you have almost 60 miles of beach to drive, and the further you go, the more primitive, pristine and private it gets!

Other than the chemical toilet at the entrance to South Beach, there are no potties on the beach!

You can not drive all the way down to South Padre Island.  When you reach the Mansfield Channel, you must drive back the 60 miles on the beach!

Park as close to the dunes as possible to avoid blocking traffic on the road.  During high tide, the water comes almost all the way to the road, so watch where you park!

The beach is considered a Texas highway, therefore all Texas road rules apply.  You must wear a seat belt, children must be in car seats and all vehicles must be licensed.  Unlicensed ATVs are not allowed on the beach.

Cell phone service is non-existent on this portion of the beach.  Be PREPARED to be completely self-reliant!  Bring plenty of WATER, food, gas, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. for staying a few days longer than you anticipate.

Be aware of the mile markers, located every 5 miles.  Know which mile markers are closest to you.

Bring a first aid kit.

Fires are allowed in a grill or a pit dug in the sand, so bring a shovel and be sure to fill it back in when you are finished!

Watch for sea turtles coming ashore during the night to lay eggs.  Do not touch the eggs and immediately report it.

South Beach is for 4-wheel drive vehicles ONLY!  If you get stuck, a wrecker will NOT come out to get you!  Be prepared to ask a fellow beachgoer with a truck to pull you out, keep some cash handy as a thank you, and have plenty of water in your car in case you have to wait!

For more information on South Beach, click HERE to visit the official website.

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Yarborough Pass

If driving down South Beach isn’t exciting enough, you can also camp on the Laguna Madre at Yarborough Pass!  Access is only through South Beach, across often deep sand and water.  Here you’ll find solitude, a sky full of stars and plenty of wildlife watching as the night animals come out to search for food on the mudflats!  A much easier, and fun way to access Yarborough Pass is by paddling down the Laguna Madre from Bird Island Basin, approximately 15 miles. Click HERE to visit the official website.

 

Things To Do in Corpus Christ

Play

Spend a day lounging on the river at Schlitterbahn Riverpark and Resort!  Forget standing in line, just jump in a tube and float your way from river attraction to attraction!  Click HERE to read more!

Horseback riding on the beach is an absolute thrill!  Click HERE to check out Horses on the Beach!

For the past 2 years, my daughter has LOVED Padre Island Surf Camp, which offers day and weekly surf camps for kids!  Click HERE to read more!

Eat 

You won’t go wrong at Padre Island Burger Company, especially if you go early!  Located on Padre Island Dr (Park Rd 22) and Hwy 361.


Malaquite Beach 

Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi

Click HERE to visit their website.    


Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun! 

Michelle 

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