A Visit to South Padre Island

Queen Isabella Causeway: A Bridge with a Somber Story

We spent a delightful day exploring South Padre Island. To get there, we crossed the Queen Isabella Causeway, a 2.37-mile bridge connecting the island to Port Isabel, Texas, on the mainland. It’s the second-longest bridge in the state and offers breathtaking views of the Laguna Madre Bay.
A viewpoint along the bridge allowed us to stretch our legs and take in the scenery. Here, we learned about the bridge’s tragic incident, an event that was overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks. On September 15, 2001, a tugboat caused a bridge section to collapse, resulting in the deaths of eight people and only three survivors. Apparently, the recent, similar accident with the Baltimore Key Bridge isn’t that unique!

Exploring the South Padre Island Birding Center

We visited the South Padre Island Birding Center on South Padre Island, Texas. After climbing the five-story observation tower, we were rewarded with stunning views: the wide Laguna Madre Bay on one side and a glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico on the other.

The center answered my question about alligators or crocodiles roaming the muddy waters here in Texas as they do in Florida. From the tower, we saw them sitting in the sun! So, yes, they are also lurking here in the Texan swamp land!
I learned that the center rescues alligators from backyard ponds, pools, or other situations threatening public safety. One of their most famous residents is Big Padre, a rescued American alligator over 50 years old, measuring 12 feet 7 inches and weighing over 750 pounds!
We continued our walk over the boardwalk. The birds clearly love it here—they were practically posing for pictures! The South Padre Island Birding Center gave us a unique opportunity to see the beauty of the Texas coast and its wildlife. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

South Padre Island, A Texan Tropical Paradise

South Padre Island is the only tropical Island in Texas. It is a barrier island, only 0.5 miles wide at its widest point and 34 miles long! We drove north to the point where the road ended, and dunes appeared before us. After taking off our shoes, we walked along the beach, surprised to see a few trucks navigating the smooth sand. Thankfully, traffic was light. The waves, the warm sand between our toes, the endless horizon, the wind in our faces, spending time collecting shells: the sea and beach never lose their welcoming charm.

A Beacon of the Past, The Port Isabel Lighthouse

Back on the mainland, we strolled around the Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site and the charming neighborhood with restaurants, galleries, and shops nearby. The giant Port Isabel Lighthouse, built in 1852, guided ships for over 50 years through the Brazos Santiago Pass, a critical waterway between the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
This 72-foot lighthouse is one of the oldest on the Texas coast. Its guiding function stopped in 1906 due to reduced shipping traffic and newer navigation techniques. It became a tourist attraction in 1952. Today, this landmark, which you can see from afar – the reason why we stopped for a visit – is the only Texas lighthouse open to the public.


Saturday, April 13, 2024


4.46 miles (in total)

Moving Time

about 2 hours


84 °F, fresh breeze, sun and clouds