By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Welcome, Spring Breakers, to the best vacation spot this side of heaven! Welcome to sunny South Padre Island and the Rio Grande Valley.
If you really want to have an incredible Spring Break experience, you need to enjoy the Island the way we locals do.
First of all, there’s more to South Padre than the warm sands, turquoise waves and the bumpin’ beats which roar from Clayton’s, Louie’s and Rockstar Beach.
If you like the sun, sand and surf then you might want to venture over to the southern end of the Island — over on down to Isla Blanca Park. This county-owned park buttresses right up to a huge ship channel, so there’s a line of jetties that stretch several hundred yards out into the Gulf of Mexico. Built to protect the entryway for the big ships and shrimp trawlers that traverse the channel every day, the jetties also just so happen to create some of the best surfable waves on the Texas coast.
So, stop by one of the surf shops located all along Padre Boulevard and rent a board or sign up for some surf lessons and hit the waves at Isla Blanca beach.
If you like the water, but you prefer to stay dry, well, there’s something for you, too. Right across the street from Clayton’s you’ll notice a huge building overlooking the calm bay waters of the Laguna Madre. That’s Sea Turtle Inc. — a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center that’s open to the public.
That huge building is brand spanking new — it just opened last month — and inside you’ll find huge tanks with live sea turtles, along with so much more. You can say hi to sea turtles like Fred or Merry Christmas. There’s even one turtle who’s a bonafide celebrity. His name is Jerry and he once appeared on the David Letterman show.
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, well, try going off the beaten path — literally. Way out north you’ll find something called “Island Adventure Park” where you can saddle up on a friendly quarter horse to enjoy a long walk on the beach — on horseback.
Then there’s dolphin watch and party cruise excursions on the bay every day and evening. If you’re lucky, you might even meet South Padre Island’s very own dolphin whisperer.
Or, you can learn how to build a sandcastle from a professional sand sculptor. These folks go way beyond those little plastic buckets and scoops you’ll find in shops all over the strip.
Finally, you’ve GOT to make at least one trip to the mainland to visit some of the hidden gems in Port Isabel.
Climbing up to the top of the Lighthouse, which you can see as you come over the Causeway, is a definite must. But, you also really need to make a stop at a restaurant for one of the Rio Grande Valley’s infamous breakfast tacos. You haven’t breakfasted until you’ve had a “con todo” from Isabel’s Café or Manuel’s. Con todo means “with everything,” and trust me, that’s no exagerration. Eggs, potatoes, refried beans, chorizo, bacon, sausage, cheese — you name it, they’ll wrap it in a tortilla bigger than your head. It’s definitely the perfect feast after a long night of fun.
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