Looking for an island getaway that’s easy to get to, filled with delicious eats and tons of activities? Look no further than South Padre Island! This barrier island has a little something for everyone and is a slice of beachside (or bayside) paradise for all us water lovers!
This was my first visit to SPI, and I’m beyond excited to share a comprehensive South Padre Island travel guide with y’all!
Did you know it’s easier than ever to get to the Island? Visiting South Padre is a breeze with direct flights from two airports that serve South Padre Island: Valley International Airport (Harlingen) and Brownsville/South Padre Island International Airport. We opted to fly over drive, simply due to cheap flight prices and the fact that the direct flight from Houston to Harlingen is only 45 minutes!
South Padre Island is home to more than 300 days of sunshine every year. And while SPI looks little, it has so much to offer. This little slice of paradise is the perfect spot for a bachelorette, mother-daughter getaway, or even that best friends trip you’ve been discussing for ages. Read our South Padre Island travel guide to help you plan a great getaway. Hope to see you on the Island soon, safe travels!
South Padre Island Travel Guide
Where to Stay
When planning your getaway, I encourage you to consider a condo or beach rental, especially if you’re visiting with family or group of friends. We stayed at the Sapphire Condominium which offers ample space and amenities, along with two, three and four-bedroom offerings.
The Sapphire is a luxury beachfront property with spacious balconies for dining al fresco, after cooking in your condo’s top-of-the-line kitchen. Whether you like to work out in the gym, hang out by the pool or head to the spa, this property offers it all!
South Padre Island travel guide insider tip: If you didn’t bring your own beach chairs, check in with the front desk for beachside daily rentals, but hurry because they reserve quickly!
Where to Eat
Cafe Karma // Locally-owned coffee shop on the northern side of the island. This low-key spot features delicious lattes and cafe mochas. After a hot day outside, we ordered an Affogato (espresso poured over ice cream). Cafe Karma serves light breakfast and lunch, plus they feature live music on select days.
Cafe on the Beach // A casual dining option located directly on the beach. Definitely don’t bypass the tropical drink offerings, as the Pina Colada is out of this world! Enjoy the ocean breeze at this al fresco spot, and order some Coconut Shrimp or a piece of fresh grilled fish for your main course.
F&B SPI // Definitely one of the top restaurants on the island! We absolutely loved our meal at this local spot. Upon arriving, you’ll be welcomed by a bright and lively atmosphere, plus experience delicious eats that will have you wanting to return as soon as possible. Come hungry — you’ll want to order a little bit of everything! I highly recommend the seasonal soup or the ceviche of the day to start your meal, one of the fresh fish offerings for your main course and the irresistible chocolate soufflé for dessert. Insider tip: Make a reservation for F&B on their website to avoid waiting on busy evenings.
Padre Island Brewing Company // Stop in for a cold beer at South Padre’s own brewpub, the second oldest in the state of Texas. All their beers are brewed in-house and there are a number of flight options, as well as happy hour offerings.
The Grapevine Cafe // Delicious breakfast and lunch spot on the island. Beware, during high season you can experience lengthy wait times before getting seated. This local favorite dining spot features delicious Migas, fluffy omelets and their very own in-house roasted coffee. Try to grab a spot at the counter if it’s busy!
Williedean Bagels // A family-owned spot with delicious New York style bagels and tasty sandwiches. This little cafe features Instagram-worthy palm frond murals and a super welcoming atmosphere.
Yummies Bistro // Local favorite, where the pancakes are a must order. Just be aware that wait times can exceed over 45 minutes on weekends, so plan accordingly. We tried to eat at this spot but the wait was long over an hour, so we’ve already got it on our list to try when we return to SPI!
What to Do
Isla Blanca Park // Head to the southern end of the Island to enjoy this beach park — you’ll just need to pay a $12 entry fee. This is where the surf scene happens on South Padre Island, and the waves are especially perfect for beginners. People also fish off the jetties.
Laguna BOB // A casual gathering spot on the bayside of the island. Laguna BOB is a must visit when on the island for live music and drinks. We loved the laidback vibe at this spot, featuring a couple of decks and two outdoor bars. Grab a drink or a beer and sit along the water. The sunsets are a must see from this joint!
Sand Castle lessons // Book a group or private lesson with The Amazing Walter, Lucinda “Sandyfeet” Sandcastle Services, or Andy Hancock Sandcastle Lessons, and try your hand at a creative masterpiece.
Sapphire Spa // Find this spa first floor of the Sapphire Condominium. This signature Aveda spa offers everything you could possibly need including hair, nails and must-have spa treatments. Let me tell you, the hour-long massage is absolute bliss! Want to do a spa day with the girls? Just be sure to call in advance to book everything your group might need.
Shopping // Isla Coastal Clothing and Rica Women are two locally owned boutiques with plenty of offerings for both men and women. Rica Women features an extensive selection of shoes and jewelry; it’s the perfect spot to find a piece to take home from your getaway. Need a few souvenirs to bring home? Head to On the Beach for some beach and resort wear, a huge variety of swimsuits and fun SPI stickers for your car or fridge at home. They’ll definitely be a reminder of how much fun you had on the Island once your vacation is over.
South Padre Island Adventure Park // Situated at the far end of the island, past the dunes and across from the beaches which can be driven on with a car. Here you can enjoy a little vacation adventure, including beach horseback rides and ziplining. Group or private horseback rides are available, and at different times during the day. We booked the afternoon ride – it begins at 4pm and is the perfect length of time to enjoy along the beach while still keeping the evening open for dinner.
South Padre Surf Co. // Book a lesson with owners Gene and Rachel, and you’ll most definitely catch more than one wave. And it’ll be with a smile on your face! We absolutely loved our surf lessons with the duo. We took a group lesson and caught plenty of waves to feel satisfied. I’ve surfed a handful of times and my husband Rick had never surfed before this trip. We both caught plenty of waves. You’ll also meet their Golden Retriever, Archer, who loves to surf, too! They’ll provide you with everything you need, a rash guard and boards, and if you catch the surfers’ stoke, you can rent a board after your lesson for $30/day.