PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
Corpus Christi, Texas 78480-1300
Padre Island National Seashore 'South Padre Starfish'
© Allyson K. Ricketts
Starfish frolic in the sand and surf at S. Padre Islands seashore.
Padre Island National Seashore 'South Padre Island '
© Allyson K. Ricketts
Padre Island National Seashore, encompassing 130,434 acres, is the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world, and offers a wide variety of flora and fauna as well as recreation.
Please review this and the news pages for the latest information which may effect your visit.
For the most recent official park documents on drilling for natural gas within the park, plans for development of Bird Island Basin, and other issues, please follow the Management Docs link on the right.
Weddings may be held on the beach, but require a special use permit. See the fees and permits section for more information.
After exploring the links on this page, click on the inDEPTH button for Frequently Asked Questions and info on Traveling Down Island, the island's history, and current issues.
For questions on Resource Management issues, such as oil and gas production or facilities within the park, plans to modify Bird Island Basin, or scientific studies conducted within the park, please contact our Resource Management Division at (361) 949-8173 extension 223.
Pets are permitted throughout the park, except on the visitor center deck. All pets must be on a leash. Please remember to clean up after your pet.
All camping is first-come, first-served. No reservations are accepted. There are no hook-ups. Space for primitive camping on the Gulf beach is always available (except during infrequent beach closures). Camping space is usually available at Bird Island Basin, but may be very limited during the height of the windsurfing season. Except for major holiday weekends, camping space is normally available at Malaquite Campround.
Fireworks are not permitted in the National Seashore.
Only all-terrain vehicles owned and operated by the federal government may be used within the National Seashore. Privately-owned ATVs may not be used within the National Seashore.
Please note: our park is on North Padre Island. For information on South Padre Island call 1-800-343-2368.
FACILITIES AND ACTIVITIES OVERVIEW
Boating : While boating at Padre Island National Seashore, the park asks that you observe the following laws and guidance to ensure the safety of all visitors (including yourself) , to protect the park's natural resources, and to help everyone enjoy their time in the park.
Boats may be launched at Bird Island Basin and at Yarborough Pass Boat Ramp. No other launch areas are authorized.
Hard-sided, motorized boats may not be launched into the Gulf of Mexico. Soft-sided (Zodiac style) boats of twelve feet or less in length may launch into the Gulf, but only if they launch south of the 5 mile marker (the four wheel drive sign).
Personal watercraft (such as Jetskis, Seadoos, etc.) may not operate anywhere within the boundaries of Padre Island National Seashore.
Air boats and fishing boats which use air motors (flounder rigs) are prohibited in Padre Island National Seashore.
The State of Texas requires the following boat safety equipment:
Lights are required on boats less than twenty meters in length from sundown to sunrise in all weather. A vessel or motorboat when underway between sunset and sunrise in all weather must have and exhibit the lights prescribed by the commandant of the Coast Guard for boats of its class.
A motorboat must have an efficient whistle or other sound-producing device, if required by the commandant of the Coast Guard.
A motorboat must have at least one life preserver, life belt, ring buoy, or other device of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the commandant of the Coast Guard for each person on board, so placed as to be readily accessible. The operator of a class A or Class 1 motorboat, while underway, shall require every passenger under twelve years of age to wear a life preserver of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the commandant of the Coast Guard. A life belt or ring buoy does not satisfy this requirement.
A motorboat must have the number, size, and type of fire extinguishers prescribed by the commandant of the Coast Guard.
A vessel used to tow a person or persons on water skis or an aquaplane or similar device on the water of this state must have a rear view mirror of a size no less than four inches from bottom to top and across from one side to the other.
For more information on boating and other recreational activities at Padre Island National Seashore, call the Malaquite Visitor Center at (361) 949-8068. To report emergencies, call the park dispatch office at (361) 949-8173, extension 0 or call 911.
to this park:
Horseback riding is permitted in the National Seashore. Please observe the following regulations: horses and pack animals are allowed on Gulf beaches except in front of the Malaquite Beach Visitor Center and campground. Horses and pack animals are prohibited on paved roads, dunes, grasslands, and mudflats.
Hay will be kept in feed troughs or horse trailer feeding bays to prevent hay from being placed on the ground. All unused hay will be removed from the park. For additional information, call the Malaquite Visitors Center: (361) 949-8068.
Hiking : Hiking is permitted at the National Seashore, but is limited. Also, please be aware that rattlesnakes range throughout the island and therefore, although it is not illegal, visitors are advised to avoid walking in the dunes, grasslands, mudflats, and all other backcountry areas. Furthermore, be aware of weather conditions at all times. Shelter from the sun and precipitation is rare. The weather can be very hot and heat indexes of over 100 for extended periods during the summer are not unusual.
Extensive marshes often exist in the back areas. These generate millions of insects including mosquitoes and biting flies. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and liberal use of insect repellent help protect against insects.
Biking : Because of the island's generally flat terrain and sunny climate, biking is a popular activity at the National Seashore.
Bicycles may be ridden on park roads, Gulf beaches, and in parking areas. All other areas including on the Malaquite Visitor Center Pavilion are prohibited.
Please wear appropriate safety gear and take appropriate safety precautions when biking. Always be wary of the presence of motor vehicles--especially on the beaches where there are no designated driving lanes.
Backpacking : Backpacking is permitted at the National Seashore, but is limited by the places where one is permitted to camp and where one may hike. This is for safety reasons as much as it is for preservation of the landscape. If someone is injured in the backcountry and cannot reach medical attention on his or her own, he or she may not be found for a long time. Also, please be aware that rattlesnakes range throughout the island and therefore, although it is not illegal, visitors are advised to avoid walking in the dunes, grasslands, mudflats, and all other backcountry areas.
Furthermore, be aware of weather conditions at all times. Shelter from the sun and precipitation is rare. The weather can be very hot and heat indexes of over 100 for extended periods during the summer are not unusual. Wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Hats are advisable at all times. Use sunscreen. Drink and carry plenty of water and be wary of heat exhaustion.
Ground campfires are permitted only east of the vegetated dunes on open sand areas along Gulf beaches that are open to camping as long as they are built where flames or embers cannot threaten or blow into the grasslands. Wooden pallets and crates are prohibited from burning due to the abundance of nails that are left on the beach. Additionally, refuse, household trash, petroleum products, and plastics shall not be burned. Ground fires at Bird Island Basin are allowed provided the fire is enclosed in receptacle.
Camping anywhere other than at the developed Malaquite Campground requires a permit, which is available from the Malaquite Visitor Center or patrolling rangers.
Interpretive Programs : Every day the Malaquite Visitors Center is open (and it closes only on Christmas Day), the park's interpretation division presents ranger-led programs to educate the public on not only the natural history and cultural history of the park, but also on important issues of the day. The number of programs and the topics vary with the staff available and the current issues, but the park has two basic core programs that are held almost every day throughout the year and usually at the same times each day. The first is the beach walk, which takes place at 11:00 a.m. and which is a basic introduction to the island that lasts about forty-five minutes. A ranger leads the group from the Visitor Center and onto the beach talking about topics such as birds, sea turtles, plants, wildlife, marine life, and many other topics while answering any questions from the audience.
The second is the deck talk, which lasts about half an hour to one hour and takes place at 1:00 p.m. on the deck of the Malaquite Visitor Center or on the Visitor Center's upper observation deck. The subject of the talk is chosen by the ranger conducting the program, but is usually about some aspect of natural history such as seashells or sea turtles or items that can be found on the beach, but can be about anything including cultural history or important issues. As with the beach walk, questions from the audience on any topic concerning the island are welcomed.
Currently, the Interpretation Division is also offering a Family Program that takes place in the Visitors Center auditorium every day at 3:00 p.m.
Periodically, the National Seashore also offers astronomy and night sky viewing programs beginning around or just after sunset. Check back often to find out when the next program will be offered. Also visit our Stargazing webpage.
For more information on current or upcoming Interpretive programs, call the Malaquite Visitors Center at (361) 949-8068.
Plane - The nearest major airport is Corpus Christi International Airport. It is approximately 43 miles away. <P> <br>Car - The seashore is located southeast of the city of Corpus Christi, Texas. Visitors to Corpus Christi should head East through the city on South Padre Island Drive (Highway 358). After crossing the JFK Causeway and the bridge onto Padre Island, continue about 10 miles south on Park Road 22. The physical address for the Malaquite Visitor Center is 20402 Park Road 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418. <P>Please take note: our park is on North Padre Island. South Padre Island is approximately another three hours south via highway 77. For information on South Padre Island call 1-800-343-2368 or visit their website at www.sopadre.com. <P> <br>Bus - There are no bus routes to the park. <P> <br>Public Transportation - There is no regularly scheduled public or commercial transportation to the park. <P>