A Decent Place to Run on the Beach: North Padre Island

Hard, packed sand at low tide makes for a pleasant run.
Hard, packed sand at low tide makes for a pleasant run.

Running. For me, it is a necessary evil. I am not a natural runner, but I run to try to stay somewhat fit, and to try to keep up with my young children.  So there are times when I rather not do it, but if I don’t I wished I had.

One way to make running a pleasurable experience is to run outdoors. If you are lucky as I am, it is great to go run at the beach. However, some beaches are better for running than others. While I was in the Caribbean, I got the pleasure to run the beach, but I really had to watch out where I was going since there were occasional rocks, anchors for boats,  and uneven spots.  I sprained many an ankle, and trust me, it is not fun.

North Padre Island is a pretty good spot for running. For the most part, the sand is usually well packed which helps for a decent run. I say try to go during low tide, so consult the tidal reports on the news or internet. Also, there is usually not a huge slant near the shore which helps if you tend to get hip or knee problems. Just watch out for the occasional hole dug for the mote of a sandcastle or the sandcastle itself, for that matter.

Running at the beach also gives the body more resistance, so you get a better workout. If you are really wanting a challenge, run in the loose sand or in the shallow part of the water. You will feel the burn in your legs.

Speaking of burn, be sure to slather the sunscreen, wear a hat, and sunglasses so you will want to go for it next time.

What I like about running at the beach is that you can run pretty much any time of day, and not feel too hot. If I run mid-day, I will carry a bit of water just in case.  I wear Fila “toe shoes” that can get wet, so sometimes I run into the very shallow part of the shore. There I make my own “a/c” with the wind and the sea spray I kick up while running.  What is great is that if you dressed in quick dry clothing, you can just jump in to the waves afterward!  A great reward for a good run!

So, to make pleasure from a chore, run by the shore!

 

Out of the Clear, Blue Yonder

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The beaches begin to clear up this time of year from seaweed.
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The sediments settle down revealing blue water that approaches the shore this time of year.

 

Late July until sometime close to Winter is my favorite time on the beaches of North Padre Island. Why? This time of the year is when the clear, blue water finally comes onshore. Early Spring and Summer, you can see the blue water off shore, but the waves churn up the sediments and the water is murky. Also early Spring brings the mats of seaweed or Sargassum onto the shores of Texas beaches. Late summer the Sargassum seaweed begins to abate to reveal clean beaches.

However, this year we had a long invasion of this golden-brown weed all the way into July here in the Coastal Bend. Yes, it can be downright gross on the beaches for tourists and locals, but sea turtles and fish love it. The floating mats of it offshore provide a mobile habitat for marine life as drifts to shore.

So this is the time to enjoy the pretty blue water on the shores of North Padre Island. The winds tend to let up unless there is a hurricane or tropical system and the seaweed gives us a break from fuzzy beaches of Spring. Just last weekend I spotted a few snorkelers checking out the fish by the rocks of the jetties by the north side of Packery Channel.

So take a little time and enjoy the beach this time of year! I know I will!

 

Color in the Sky and Fire on the Island

The second annual 4th of July Fireworks Show and Boat Parade on North Padre Island got off to a colorful beginning, and concluded with a blazing ending. Quite literally:

The evening began with a little rainbow in the sky.
The evening began with a little rainbow in the sky.
Bedazzled deck parties.
Bedazzled deck parties.
4 Rosette Spoonbills in flight.  (Sorry that the photo is bad.)
4 Rosette Spoonbills in flight. (Sorry that the photo is bad.)
Gorgeous sunset
Gorgeous sunset
Boats were illuminated for the parade.
Boats were illuminated for the parade.
The fireworks show was great and lasted about 30 minutes or so.
The fireworks show was great and lasted about 30 minutes or so.

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Whoops! A spoil island caught fire, but the show goes on...
Whoops! A spoil island caught fire, but the show goes on…

Happy 4th! Sea Turtles in the Morning. Fireworks at Night…

Photo courtesy of debordieukazette.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of debordieukazette.blogspot.com

 

Happy 4th! North Padre Island National Seashore released more  turtle hatchlings  this morning, and gave a short educational program at the visitors deck.

To see the newly hatched Kemp’s ridley sea turtles: Kemp’s ridley eggs are just starting to hatch, and the hatching process can take several days.  The exact dates of the releases depend on how quickly the eggs hatch, and  how the hatchlings become ready for release. It’s all up to the hatchlings.  The park usually does not  know that they will have a release until the day before.

Public releases are held starting at 6:45 a.m. on the beach in front of the Malaquite Visitor Center at Padre Island National Seashore on North Padre Island. Call the Hatchling Hotline at (361)949-7163 for the latest information on the release oer visit their website at www.nps.gov/pais for the projected release dates.  The nesting season could continue for three more weeks.

If you get up early to enjoy the turtle releases, just don’t come back to the national seashore with your fireworks, firecrackers, or sparklers. The park announced that those items are prohibited on park lands and are subject to seizure. If you want to enjoy fireworks, Padre Island is having their own second annual display on the main canal by Three Fathoms Bank. Last year we could see the display all the way from the ‘Bluff, so enjoy the display tonight!! Happy 4th!

Mardi Gras Celebrated Island Style?

Mardi Gras—

Most people think of beads, bare chests, and booze.

On Padre Island, they do Mardi Gras— barefoot.

All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newspaper.

According to http://barefootmardigras.com/,”Barefoot Mardi Gras offers a Texas style carnival atmosphere right on the beautiful beaches of Corpus Christi. Catch some beads and rays while advocating for youth!”

The 5th annual Barefoot Mardi Gras Parade and Party was this past weekend on North Padre Island. The event benefits Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization. The parade started at noon on beach down from Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park.

So if you are around the Coastal Bend this time of year, you might want to check out this islander twist on Mardi Gras. If you want beads, beautiful beaches, and bare feet,  this could be the Mardi Gras for you.

All photos by Miles Merwin. Island Moon Newpaper
All photos by Miles Merwin. The Island Moon Newpaper

Spring Break Already?

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Spring Break on North Padre Island, Texas. Photo courtesy of http://entertainment.caller.com

Wow…we had just been talking about cold, stunned turtles and polar vortex weather roller coasters… Now Spring Break in just around the corner. The first weekend will be March 7-8 with the busiest weekend on the 14-15th. However, today, the temp. dropped again. Spring is just a teasing us…

With all of this cold crazy weather this winter, there will be plenty of hormone-filled, Spring- feverish breakers coming to our little strip of sand here in South Texas. We here in the Coastal Bend have noticed that the traffic has been steadily increasing over the years here, but get ready for more.

So, if you want a quiet time here at the beach, well, it may not be happening for the mid-part of March. However, you will probably have a quieter time over at Padre Island National Seashore or maybe even at Rockport. The Port Aransas Beaches and many of the beaches on North Padre and definitely South Padre Islands will be busy. But just like March, it roars in like a lion, and leaves like a lamb.

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island and Flour Bluff: Get Good Grub

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. This is the last of  first main part of the series  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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Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com
Sunrise on the Gulf of Mexico
Photo courtesy of Extremecoast.com

North Padre Island

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

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel

4. The Seawall on North Padre Island:

5. My Favorite Places to Eat Seafood with the kids:

-Snoopy’s Pier

Snoopy's Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com
Snoopy’s Pier. Photo courtesy of coastalbendlife.com

According to  http://www.snoopyspier.com/,”Snoopy’s Pier was literally a product of the Redfish Wars, a battle over commercial fishing rights in the inland waterways and bay systems of Texas. As with many commercial fishermen in the late 70’s and early 80’s, Ernie Butler realized the Redfish Wars signaled the beginning of the end of the commercial fishing industry in Texas. So when it was no longer fun to be chased by Texas Game Wardens, Ernie decided to give up trying to catch fish and shrimp and start cooking them instead. In August 1980 Ernie and his wife, Corliss, purchased a small bait stand and burger joint with a 600 foot fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway. Family and friends pitched in their favorite recipes and Snoop’s Pier was born.”

Let me just say that this place used to be a total dive with great food, but over time, they have changed. Now they have air conditioning and a remodeled interior, their prices have gone up some. However, you can’t beat them for fresh seafood. They have the best shrimp in Corpus Christi.

The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com
The fresh shrimp are the best in Corpus Christi.
Photo courtesy of urbanspoon.com

Also, the kids love it since you can sit outside and watch the fish. Kids love to feed the hardhead fish below the pier small pieces of crackers and watch them gobble the crumbs. Families and romantics alike enjoy sitting outside and watch the sunset over Flour Bluff.

Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy's Pier
Sunset over the Bluff at Snoopy’s Pier

If you arrive by sea, you can dock your boat right next to the restaurant. If you arrive by land, from Corpus, you will go over the JFK bridge and take the first right once you gone over the bridge and follow the road there.

-Okay, here is another good recommendation for good seafood- Laguna Reef at Bluff Landing in Flour Bluff

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of bluffslanding.com

Laguna Reef  is in Flour Bluff which is the chunk of land you encounter before going to North Padre Island. It is a little out of the way, but worth it. Coming from Corpus, you would exit right toward Waldron Road. You continue on the service road past HEB and turn right onto Laguna Shores. You go down Laguna Shores forever until the end of the road. Then you turn left, and you are there.

This is another restaurant that you can access by boat. According to http://www.bluffslanding.com/restaurant.php ,”Located next to the Marina & Hotel, the Laguna Reef Restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood and delicious meat. They even let you bring in your own catch and they cook it for you! With excellent views of the marina, family owners & operators, Laguna Reef is the place to be.”

Pretty much any seafood on the menu is good. I love their coconut shrimp! After a day of playing around on North Padre Island, it is great to know where to get some good grub!

Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com
Laguna Reef Restaurant. Photo courtesy of coastalbendmenuguide.com

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do: North Padre Island: The Seawall

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.

**********

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

North Padre Island

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

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

3. Packery Channel

4. The Seawall on North Padre Island:

The Sea Wall at sunrise.
The Sea Wall at sunrise.

The seawall on North Padre Island is a great spot for people watching, bicycling, skateboarding, or just hanging out.  Here you can park at the parking lot north of the Holiday Inn and not commit yourself or car to the sand. At the parking lot, there are restrooms and showers, so if you decide to stick your toes in the sand or water, you can easily clean them off.

The seawall on North Padre is completely empty of people.
The seawall on North Padre

During the warmer months, you can stroll over to the Holiday Inn and get a smoothie at the little stand or listen to the tunes from a random band playing poolside. One other thing, during the warmer months, if you decide to learn how to hang ten, you can take surfing lessons here by the seawall with Padre Island Surf Camps. My daughter and I learned to surf with them, and we had a total blast! Hey, if I can learn in my mid 40’s anyone can! It took a few tries, but I got the hang of it. My daughter on the other hand, took to it like a fish to water.

Already surfing like a pro!
“I got this.” Already surfing like a pro!

Places to Go,”Sea”, and Do around North Padre Island:Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

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.

**********

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

North Padre Island Here is another one of my favorite places on my ongoing list about North Padre Island:

1. Padre Island National Seashore

2. Bob Hall Pier at Padre Balli Park

Bob Hall

This beach is closer to the mainland than the National Seashore.

Photo courtesy of http://i245.photobucket.com
/albums/gg62/Stargazer_
54/bobhallsunrise90410.jpg

Also, here, there is a paved parking area if you don’t want to completely subject your car to the sand. Also, you can enjoy the regular beach activities such as sunning, swimming, birding, and surfing.  The surf tends to be better here for the surfers because of the pier.

A guy surfs at Bob Hall. Photo courtesy of http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=bob+hall+pier&FORM=HDRSC2#view=detail&id=A989BC9D600F53CF88EFD7DBB155FAE57B2C5E2A&selectedIndex=185
A guy surfing at Bob Hall. Photo courtesy of http://media.caller.com

However, the pier is where the fishermen go get their catch of the day, and that sometimes can be a problem for the surfers and the fishers.

Lazy fishing days. Photo courtesy of finsonpins.com
Lazy fishing days.
Photo courtesy of finsonpins.com

The pier charges around $2 each person, but you can go for the ocean fishing, a view, or some sun. Just be sure to wear shoes while on the pier since there might be some fishing hooks lying around. 

There is also a new restaurant called Mikel May’s Beachside Bar & Grill where you can grab some good grub with a great view. What better way to wrap up a great day of catching a few rays?

Mikel Mays on Bob Hall Pier
Mikel Mays on Bob Hall Pier