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Padre Island National Seashore

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Padre Island National Seashore Overview

Padre Island, the longest remaining undeveloped barrier island in the world, stretches for 110 miles along the Texas Gulf Coast. The national seashore occupies over 80 miles of uninhabited island paradise, a place where the warm and gentle waters of the Gulf of Mexico caress white sand beaches. Padre Island is named for Padre Jose Nicolas Balli, who built a mission on the island in the early 1800s to Christianize the native Karankawa Indians.

Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay separate Padre Island from the mainland, offering light-tackle angling opportunities for speckled trout, black drum, redfish, and flounder. The shallow waters of Laguna Madre lure windsurfers from all over America to test their mettle in the powerful winds of the gulf. A birder's delight, Padre Island is situated on the Central Flyway—a major migratory route in the sky traveled by millions of birds.

The entrance to Padre Island is approximately 43 miles away from Corpus Christi, a city serviced by an international airport. You can reach the island by car via the JFK Causeway.

Hike the Grasslands Nature Trail
The two-mile loop trail snakes its way through sand dunes and grasslands. Keep a keen eye out for elusive wildlife, including coyotes, black-tailed jackrabbits, and lizards. Birds such as killdeer, meadowlarks, and sandhill cranes thrive in the island's inland terrain. Do yourself a favor, stick to the trail: Western diamondback rattlesnakes give "Keep off the Dunes" a whole new meaning.

Windsurf Laguna Madre
The saltwater lagoon that separates Padre Island from the Texas mainland is widely considered one of the top windsurfing destinations in the nation. The 120-mile lagoon frequently hosts competitions because its unobstructed winds allow surfers to reach some ridiculous speeds. But even if you've never been on a board in your life, this is a good place to learn: The lagoon is seldom more than three to five feet deep and features a soft, sandy bottom.

Bird the Texas Gulf Coast
Bird-watchers must flock to Bird Island Basin: The aptly named Mecca lures over 350 bird species to the warm and shallow waters of Laguna Madre. The basin is a fertile nursery for saltwater fish, creating the ideal environment for white pelicans that scoop up fish by the mouthful. You'll also see lots of terns, herons, egrets, gallinules, and grebes. Situated on the Central Flyway, the island draws a variety of migrating birds from South and Central America during the summer. During the winter, migrating birds arrive from as far away as the Arctic. Wintertime on Padre Island is also an excellent time for spotting hawks and sparrows in the upland areas.

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