The longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world

Padre Island National Seashore

Padre Island National Seashore is easy to find, after you cross the bridge onto the island follow Park Rd. 22 for about 10 miles until you get to the ranger station admittance to the park is $10 per vehicle per week or $20 for a one-year pass. From the ranger station you’ll cross over some dunes and end up right on the beach. Padre Island National Seashore is relatively free of rules. Primitive tent camping on the beach is free after paying the entrance fee. Wood gathering and campfires are allowed, you are also welcome to collect shells and other beach debris. You can fish, either in the gulf, or the lagoon on the west side ( with a Texas state license). Activities are restricted in the dunes and grasslands to protect the wildlife living there and prevent erosion.The visitor center at Malaquite Beach offers bathrooms with showers and sells snacks and souvenirs, they do have umbrellas and other beach items for guests to rent. RVs or trailers are welcome at the Malaquite Beach campground, which includes about 45 black-topped sites, picnic tables, dump station, showers and restrooms. No electrical or water hook-ups are available. Sites are $8 per night.

Bird Island Basin, is on the west side of the park along Laguna Madre a favorite place for windsurfing, camping and launching boats. Windsurfing lessons are offered from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week by Worldwinds. Camping is primitive, but restrooms are available. The fee is $5 per day or $10 for an annual pass.

Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. In addition to its 70 miles of protected coastline, other important ecosystems abound, including rare coastal prairie, a complex and dynamic dune system, wind tidal flats teeming with life, and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hypersaline lagoon environments left in the world. The National Seashore and surrounding waters provide important habitat for marine and terrestrial plants and animals, including a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species.

Situated along the Central Flyway, Padre Island is a globally important area for over 380 migratory, overwintering, and resident bird species (nearly half of all bird species documented in North America). Thirteen of these species are considered species of concern, threatened, or endangered.

Also of significant concern at Padre Island is the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, which nests on the beach from late April through mid-July.The National Seashore is also one of the few places people can see newly hatched Kemp’s ridleys released into the wild.

With urban sprawl, climate change, pollution, and other detrimental factors continuing to threaten wildlife, critical ecosystems, and wild places worldwide, Padre Island remains a place where nature can balance itself, and where people can always visit to experience true quiet, solitude and a night sky filled with bright starlight.

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