• Aerial View of Padre Island National Seashore

    Padre Island

    National Seashore Texas

Places To Go

v Malaquite Visitor Center & Pavilion: Come to the visitor center for free brochures and information on seashells, jellyfish, and other topics. Check out the exhibit area to learn about the park's history, plants, and animals, or browse the field guides, t-shirts, and other items in the bookstore operated by the park's non-profit partner. Sit in on one of the free programs offered daily. Have a picnic in the shade on the deck, or use the restrooms and cold-water showers in the bathhouse. Stock up on ice, snacks, and other supplies at the concession-operated camp store. Wheelchair users can borrow a special beach wheelchair from the visitor center at no charge. An accessible ramp goes from the Pavilion down to Malaquite Swimming Beach.

v Malaquite Swimming Beach: The beach just in front of the Pavilion is the only area closed to both public vehicles and pets, making it a great place to let your family run and explore without worry. Bring your grill to cook out at one of the picnic tables and shade structures. Individuals with wheelchairs can also get on the sand with a special beach wheelchair available free for loan from the nearby visitor center. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly.

v Closed Beach: Closed beach, which begins at the north beach access road and ends where the main park paved road ends, is the only beach in the seashore's 65 miles that is closed to public vehicle traffic. That makes it a great place to let your family run and explore without worry. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly.

v North Beach: A paved road turning off just before the park's entrance gate provides visitors access to North Beach, the beach at the park's northern boundary. This beach is open to both RV and primitive tent camping at your own risk. Camping on North Beach is free with your park entrance pass, but requires a free permit from the kiosk located at the beach entrance. See the camping page on our website for more detailed information. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly. Flush toilets, cold-water showers, recycling containers, and trash cans are available at the Malaquite Pavilion.

v South Beach: South Beach begins at the end of the main paved park road and continues 60 miles southward, where it ends at the Port Mansfield Channel (a man-made waterway cut through the island for shipping). The 60 miles of South Beach offer fantastic opportunities for surf fishing. Mile markers are posted every 5 miles. Beach driving at your own risk is allowed along the entire 60-mile shoreline of this beach, but most of it requires 4-wheel drive and vehicles can get stuck in the soft sand. This beach is open to both RV and primitive tent camping at your own risk. Camping on South Beach is free with your park entrance pass, but requires a free permit from the kiosk located at the beach entrance. See the camping page on our website for more detailed information. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, and dumpsters or trash containers are located at the entrance to South Beach and at the Malaquite Pavilion, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly. A chemical toilet is located at the entrance to South Beach. Flush toilets and cold-water showers are available at the Malaquite Pavilion.

v Bird Island Basin Boat Ramp: Located on the bay side of the island, Bird Island Basin boat ramp and parking area is a popular spot for boaters to access the Laguna Madre. It has parking for 106 vehicles with trailers, 4 vehicles without trailers, and 4 vehicles with disability parking permits. To use this area, an additional fee of $5.00/day or a $10.00 annual pass is required (in addition to the park entrance fee). Those with an Interagency Senior or Access Pass get a 50% discount on this additional fee. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly.

v Bird Island Basin Windsurfing, Kayaking, & Camping Area: Located on the bay side of the island, Bird Island Basin is one of the most popular locations in the country for windsurfing. It also offers terrific opportunities for kayaking, birding, and fishing. A concession offers equipment rentals and lessons for windsurfing and kayaking. Campers can find both RV and tent camping sites in this area. Bird Island Basin has no showers or water, but water and cold-water showers are available at the Malaquite Pavilion. Bird Island Basin has a chemical toilet, and flush toilets are available at the Malaquite Pavilion. See the camping page on our website for more detailed information. To use this area, an additional fee of $5.00/day or a $10.00 annual pass is required (in addition to the park entrance fee). Those with an Interagency Senior or Access Pass get a 50% discount on this additional fee. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly. Recycling containers and trash cans are available at the Malaquite Pavilion.

v Malaquite Campground: Tucked in the dunes with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, Malaquite Campground offers 44 semi-primitive designated sites for RV or tent camping and 6 sites for tent camping only. Tent campers may set up their tents at their designated site or down on the beach in front of the campground. This campground provides flush toilets, cold-water showers, picnic tables, grills, and shade structures. There are no hook-ups but there is a free gray/black water dump station and potable water filling station at the campground entrance. An additional fee of $8.00 per night (in addition to the park entrance fee) is required to camp here. Those with an Interagency Senior or Access Pass get a 50% discount on this additional fee.

v Malaquite Picnic Shelter: This large, shaded picnic area at the northern edge of the Malaquite Pavilion parking lot is a great place to picnic, particularly for larger families and friends. Water is available, and lights and electricity are available upon request. A large grill is also available, or you can bring your own grill. Free trash bags are available at the park entrance and at the visitor center, and trash and recycling containers are located at the Malaquite Pavilion, so please bag and dispose of your trash responsibly.

v Grasslands Nature Trail: Located just past the park entrance gate, Grasslands Nature Trail gives visitors a chance to see what lies beyond the beach and behind the dunes. This short, ¾ mile trail is paved and universally accessible.

v Novillo Line Camp: Step back in time with a short walk to Novillo Line Camp, where cowboys corralled the cattle that once grazed on the island. The camp is the last remaining structure from the Dunn family cattle ranching operation.

v Yarborough Pass: To find Yarborough Pass, drive to the 15-mile marker on South Beach and backtrack about 100 yards. Access to this area is only possible through a 4-wheel drive access road from South Beach and by boating in from the Laguna Madre. Be aware that the access road from South Beach, which goes over the dunes, may have exceptionally deep and soft sand in which even 4-wheel drive vehicles get stuck. Flooded areas may be deep, as well. Please call the beach conditions hotline, which is updated daily, at (361)949-8175 for current weather and driving conditions. Camping at Yarborough Pass is free with your park entrance pass, but a free permit is required (available at the entrance to South Beach).

v Little Shell and Big Shell Beaches: Little Shell Beach, located 10-15 miles down South Beach, and Big Shell Beach, located 20-30 miles down South Beach, are sections of the shoreline where seashells can be found in larger concentrations. So it's a great area to go beachcombing if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle.

v Port Mansfield Channel: The Port Mansfield Channel is a man-made waterway cut through Padre Island, created to allow barges and other vessels to reach Port Mansfield (located on the mainland). The Port Mansfield Channel cuts through Padre Island 60 miles south of the entrance to South Beach, and marks the southern boundary of the park. The rock jetties there, constructed during the creation of the channel, provide a great area for viewing dolphins, green sea turtles, and other wildlife that might be seen swimming in that area. Fishing can be very good here also. And the best shelling in the park is typically found in the last 5 miles of South Beach (miles 55-60) before you reach this channel and in the area around this channel. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is needed to reach this area.

Did You Know?

NPS arrowhead

Beaches in Texas are considered public highways and therefore all vehicles on them must be street-legal and licensed. More...