Padre Island National Seashore is a national park on Padre Island that encompasses more than 130,000 acres and 66 miles of Gulf beachfront. This is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island 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. Among these are the Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. Today, visitors can see Padre Island as it has existed throughout most of its history.
PARK FACILITIES AND AREAS
Malaquite Beach is located at the northern end of the park near the entrance and includes a visitor center, observation deck, concession operation, restrooms, showers, changing rooms, over 40 campsites, picnic tables and a large paved parking lot. Beach access is available by raised wooden walkways across the dunes. Vehicles are not permitted on this beach.
Bird Island Basin is located on the Laguna Madre on the back side of the Island and includes a boat launch and primitive camping. This area requires a special fee and is reached by turning right on the road right after the entrance station. Bird Island Basin is popular with birdwatchers, windsurfers and fishermen.
At the southern end of Malaquite Beach, the paved road ends at the beach. It is 60 miles from this point to the Mansfield channel. There are signs that mark the distance from the end of the paved road every 5 miles and people refer to places on PINS by the distance in miles from the end of the paved road.
The first five miles of beach is known as North Beach and usually is passable by any vehicle. After five miles, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. This section is called South Beach.
From the 12 to 18 is Little Shell Beach. At mile marker 15, vehicles may drive across the island to the Laguna Madre via a shell road at Yarborough Pass.
Big Shell Beach runs from the 18 to the 30. Near Big and Little Shell Beaches is a slight bend that became notorious for its shipwrecks. The "Devil's Elbow," is actually a point of tidal convergence that has wrecked many otherwise seaworthy vessels.
From mile marker 30 to the end of the park at the Mansfield Channel (mile marker 60), is considered "down island." The down-island area possesses the National Seashore's most primitive facilities and pristine appearance. Its wide, white beaches and tall foredunes become broken by extensive washover channels and low-lying tidal flats.
When the first causeway to Padre Island opened in 1927, development began to occur and many people started to talk about creating a state or national park on the Island. However, the Don Patricio Causeway was destroyed by a hurricane in 1933 and plans for Island development came to a halt.
A new causeway opened in 1950 and in 1958 United States Senator Ralph W. Yarborough of Texas introduced a bill providing for the establishment of a National Park on Padre Island. The bill finally passed in 1962, and after five years to acquire property rights, The park opened in 1968.
Important historical sites and events on the Island include the 1554 shipwrecks, the wreck of the Nicaragua, the forgotten ports of Griffin's Landing and Murdock’s Landing and the remnants of Patrick Dunn's ranching empire.
The park is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Vehicle Entry Fee $10 per vehicle, Annual Pass $20. Bird Island Basin Use Fee $5 per day or $10 annual.
You can get current weather and beach conditions by calling (361) 949-8175.