Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do around North Padre Island:National Seashore

This will be part of a series of places to Go, “Sea”, and Do around the Coastal Bend. I will add posts to this series each week. The first main part of the series will be about North Padre Island.

My state of Texas is growing.  I am continually meeting new people in various places who are new to here or visiting here. I often run into people who have questions about where to go when visiting Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend. I am originally from Houston, but have lived South Texas since 1991.I have lived here as a resident but have been here as a tourist before I moved here.  This series will highlight a few of my favorite places in and around our little bend in the coast.

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North Padre Island

Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

First, let me clarify some confusion. I don’t know how many people get North Padre Island mixed up with South Padre Island. They are two different places, and you cannot get to South Padre Island from North Padre Island on “South Padre Island Drive” (the freeway that runs through Corpus Christi) to get to South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is another 2 hours away. The islands are two separate places. I still scratch my head on why they named the freeway that runs through Corpus “South Padre Island Drive.” Anyway, here is one of my favorite places on North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

The turquoise waters sparkle under the azure sky at Padre Island National Seashore.
The turquoise waters sparkle under the azure sky at Padre Island National Seashore.

Pack a picnic lunch and check out the Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island  which is about a 15-20 minute drive from Corpus Christi. It  is the largest undeveloped stretch of shoreline in the world. It is great for beach walks, bird watching, fishing, viewing wildlife, camping, and just playing in the water. There are plenty of covered tables where you can enjoy a seaside picnic lunch.

Natural beauty and tranquility await.
Natural beauty and tranquility await.

During the warmer months, the rangers release the Kemps Ridley baby sea turtle hatchlings early in the morning around 7:00 a.m. at Malaquite Beach. These hatchlings have been endangered, so great care goes into the release. During the releases, volunteers hover netting above the hatchlings to prevent seagulls from snapping up a tasty breakfast. This winter this year here  has been hard on them due to unusually cold conditions.

A Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling makes his was to sea.
An Endangered Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling makes his rite of passage to the sea.

Also, while there, you can learn about the sea life and the wild life that you encounter at the visitors center at Malaquite Beach:

According to NPS.gov., “Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. In addition to its 70 miles of protected coastline, other important ecosystems abound, including rare coastal prairie, a complex and dynamic dune system, wind tidal flats teeming with life, and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hypersaline lagoon environments left in the world. The National Seashore and surrounding waters provide important habitat for marine and terrestrial plants and animals, including a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species.”

With the sprawl of cities, pollution, and other factors that threaten wildlife in places worldwide, Padre Island National Seashore remains a place where nature can balance itself. Also, it is where people can rebalance themselves among nature in quiet and solitude while looking forward to a warm glow of a fire and an amazing, jeweled night sky.

A view of the Gulf from the boardwalk at Padre Island National Seashore.
A view of the Gulf from the boardwalk at Padre Island National Seashore.
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