Padre Island is one of several barrier island's along the Texas Gulf Coast. It is 113 miles long, and usually no more than a mile or so wide, making it the longest barrier island in the world. Padre Island is separated from the mainland by the Laguna Madre.
In 1964 a channel was dredged through the Island near Port Mansfield and the southern portion of the island is now called South Padre Island.
Most of the island north of the channel was designated as a national park in 1962. Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) provides visitors with 70 miles of unspoiled beach and wind-carved dunes that are much the way they have been for hundreds of years.
Padre Island was named after Father Nicholas Balli, who gained ownership of the island in the early 1800s and established a ranch there. He also attempted to convert the local Karankawa indians to Christianity. People began to refer to it as the "Padre's Island"
The Island has a long and colorful history with stories of shipwrecks and pirates and buried treasure. In the early 1960s, the wrecks of three Spanish galleons were found near the Port Mansfield channel. In Texas, the remains of shipwrecks belong to the State. Therefore, professional treasure hunters stay away from Texas waters and most of the wrecks remain undisturbed.
Today, Padre Island is a favorite among beach and nature lovers, birdwatchers and fishermen.