South Padre Boat Rentals: Business model takes the stress out of boat ownership by way of rentals

Boats from South Padre Boat Rentals docked at their location along Highway 100 in Port Isabel. Photo by Ray Quiroga.

South Padre Parade

If you’re a current or former boat owner who describes your ownership experience as costly, time-consuming, mentally and even financially exhausting, what you’re about to read may be for you. 

For the past 25 years, Gabriel Vanounou has built a reputation in the Laguna Madre area as a successful businessman, philanthropist, and community volunteer, having birthed such businesses as Ocean Motion, Surfs Up and South Padre Beach Club on the Island and more recently, Salt Life in Port Isabel as well as a number of development ventures.

But it was an observation while visiting another coastal state, Florida, that spawned his latest endeavor, a boat rental business and tier-based boat rental club that’s creating quite a buzz throughout the Rio Grande Valley and beyond.

It was during that fateful trip to Florida when Vanounou happened upon a boat rental company and wondered why a similar business wasn’t available locally in the greater Laguna Madre area. A boat owner himself, Vanaounou understood the difficulties of boat ownership, especially for busy business owners such as himself. As Vanounou describes it, he’s lucky to have one day out of the week when he can enjoy himself out on the gulf waters yet he found himself paying to have his boat maintained instead of boating itself. Given that boaters then needed to mount their vessel on a trailer, unload it onto a slip, then do the entire process in reverse when they complete their outing, Vanounou had long thought that there had to be a better way, and now there is at least another option for sea goers and that’s Padre Island Boat Rentals where the issues such as storage, maintenance and other worries are problems of the past.

Now, with South Padre Boat Rentals, would-be skippers can schedule a time, arrive on site and take a top shelf Shallow Sport 21’ six-person boat or a Bennington 21 SSR Pontoon for an allotted time. Yamaha Wave runners will also be available in the coming weeks. While daily boat rentals are available, the true value is in the boat club tier membership. Membership benefits include optimal club prices, boat rentals at member convenience. Vanounou also plans to have members’ only special events such as gatherings and fishing tournaments in the future.  

The Bronze Package includes 12 hours of rental time for $1,000 (save $800); Silver Package includes 24 hours for $2,000 (save $1,600); Gold and Platinum Packages may use all equipment. The Gold Package includes 36 hours for $3,000 (save $2,400); and the Platinum Package includes 50 hours of rental time for $4,000 (save $3,500).

Compare that to a three-hour private rental for $450; six-hour (half day) private rental for $750 (save $150); or nine-hour (full day) private rental for $950 (save $400).

So you’re intrigued but you’re not a captain, maybe you’ve never been on a boat? That’s not a problem. The folks at South Padre Boat Rentals will get you trained, and licensed. Again, maintenance, towing and most other issues boaters may encounter out on the Gulf will be covered.

South Padre Boat Rentals is located at 1506 W. Hwy 100, Port Isabel at the Salt Life retail store in Port Isabel. 

For more information, and to book a rental, log onto South Padre Boat Rentals’ home page at SPI Boat Rentals can also be contacted by email at, or by phone at (956) 408-0441. Hours of operation vary between the seasons.

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