Find fun family vacation vibes at South Padre Island this year

If you’re thinking about a vacation this summer (and who isn’t?) but still have COVID concerns, your solution may be closer than you think. South Padre Island sits just off the southernmost point of the Texas Coast, and has pandemic protocols in place to give you peace of mind.

With a million ways to have fun, the island is an ideal spot to get everyone together — no matter what type of vacationers you have in the family.

Safety first

All the fun in the world isn’t exciting unless you feel safe, which is why the COVID-19 protocols on South Padre Island are so important. The island is adhering to all CDC guidelines and taking advice from the local health department, which you can read here.

The beaches are open with a few strong recommendations in place, including keeping groups to 10 or fewer, social distancing on the beach with shade structures 15 feet apart, and limited contact sports.

The city is actively encouraging frequent and thorough hand washing and is focused on routinely cleaning all high-touch surfaces. Plan ahead with COVID safety in mind, and learn more about the island’s protocols before heading out.

Sporting fun

South Padre provides endless outdoor-sports adventures, including kayaking, surfing, and paddle boarding, just for starters. With average wind speeds of 18 miles per hour, the island is ripe with opportunities to try windsurfing or kiteboarding.

Laguna Madre Bay sits on the west side of the island and has water depths around three feet, so it’s perfect for beginners but still has conditions that experienced water-sport enthusiasts will love. You can also book snorkeling or diving excursions with certified, licensed guides and instructors.

Still want more? Island Adventure Park sits seven miles north of town and offers horseback riding on the beach, zip-lining, and a petting zoo.

Relaxing vibes

For those in the family who prefer to chill, there’s no shortage of options. Take your sandcastle skills to the next level and get lessons from a local professional. After all, South Padre is the Sandcastle Capital of the World and home to the country’s largest outdoor sandcastle.

Or opt for a dolphin-watching tour and spot a few of the sea’s most peaceful creatures in one of their several South Texas pods. Fishing is always an option too, and the island offers a range of styles — nearshore, offshore, and surfcasting — so you can make it as relaxing as you’d like.

Of course, you can always keep it simple: Lay down your towel, prop up your umbrella, and enjoy the soothing sounds of the waves.

Kids’ activities

Keeping the kids entertained keeps everyone happy, so South Padre Island makes sure that little ones will never get bored. Kids (and parents) can take advantage of the ideal kite conditions on the beach, and are encouraged to bring their own or pick one up at the island’s kite shop.

Or visit the Laguana Atacosa Refuge and enjoy 100,000 acres of refuge. The visitor center has been closed since the onset of the pandemic, but you can still access the refuge at no charge.

And if you want the ultimate kiddo escape, head to Beach Park at Isla Blanca beginning May 21. Ranked the No. 1 kid-friendly attraction by Texas Family Magazine, the 25-acre waterpark is a kids’ paradise with 20-plus attractions including cool water slides, the Soaring Eagle zip-line, outdoor dining, and a marine-life adventure called Sea Trek.

Don’t forget the fur babies

Pet lovers, rejoice! No need to leave your four-legged friends behind. A number of restaurants on the island allow animal companions; check the Pet Friendly Padre Facebook page for the most up-to-date spots.

Try stand-up paddle boarding with your dog at Eh Brah Sup, a local shop that gets you on the water with your best friend. For hotel options, check out La Quinta Inn & Suites, Super 8, The Inn at South Padre, Pearl South Padre, and La Copa Inn Beach Hotel — all offer pet-friendly rooms. Other condo rentals and listings will also allow pets, but must be verified with management before booking.

Fido is also welcome at the beach, so long as you make sure to adhere to the leash laws and bring along plenty of fresh water for him to drink.

To plan your South Padre Island family getaway, visit

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