Accessible Padre Island Map & Guide


The park brochure is available in a variety of formats: Braille, large print, text-only and standard print.

Printed paper brochures are available in person at the visitor center or one can be requested by calling (361) 949-8068 or by emailing us.


Braille Version

A printed copy of the brochure in Braille is available at the visitor center or by downloading a copy in Braille Ready Format (BRF).


Text-Only Version

Overall Brochure Description

Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version of the Padre Island Map & Guide interprets the two-sided color brochure that Padre Island National Seashore visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit.

The front of the brochure includes scenery photographs of the beach, sand dunes, and grasslands, photographs of animal species including white pelicans, a laughing gull, and lighting welk shell, and photographs of people windsurfing, playing on the beach, and fishing. All photos are in color.

The text explains natural and cultural history of the island, as well as tips for trip planning.

The back of the brochure includes an area map of the surrounding communities, an aerial map of the 130,000-acre park, and a photograph of a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.

The text explains different sites and services found in the park and information on the protection of sea turtles.



This section contains two images.

The first image shows wind swept sand dunes with ripple marks in the sand. Vegetation made up of various grasses can be seen growing on the top of the dunes in the distance. This image has no text caption. Source: © JAMES P. ROWAN

The second image is a laughing gull standing on the ground with its shadow stretched out in front of it. The laughing gull has an orange beak, black head, white body, and black wings and tail. The image caption reads: [A laughing gull, shown in summer plumage, has a call like a high-pitched laugh.] Source: © GEORGE H.H. HUEY 

Lying a few miles off the south Texas coast, Padre Island National Seashore protects the world’s longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island. The park embraces 70 miles of sand-and-shell beaches, windswept dunes, endless grasslands, tidal flats teeming with life, and warm nearshore waters. It has the nation’s prime nesting beach for endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and is a vital stopover for migrating birds.

Throughout this coastal wilderness, you can enjoy the riches of relaxation and recreation. Padre Island’s sun, sand, and surf are ideal for swimming and sunbathing almost year-round. If you enjoy fishing, you can choose between the Gulf of Mexico and the shallow, extremely salty waters of the Laguna Madre—one of only six hypersaline lagoons in the world. The Gulf beaches provide boundless opportunities for beachcombing. Campers awaken to the sights and sounds of the surf and shorebirds. Those who seek solitude in nature can drive along portions of the beach to reach remote camping and fishing locations.

Visitors with a passion for history can explore Padre Island’s cultural heritage of Native American settlements, Spanish explorations and shipwrecks, cattle ranching, and even its use as a US Navy bombing range. In the 1800s, people in one coastal community struggled to survive by ranching, harvesting salt from the Laguna Madre, and building their homes from the remains of ships and cargoes that washed up on the beach.

However you choose to spend your time, you can experience and discover your own connections when you find your national park on Padre Island. 


Profile of a Barrier Island


This section contains four images. 

The first image shows an orange sunrise over calm waves along the beach. The image caption reads: [Beach: battered by waves, tides, winds, and storms.] Source: © GEORGE H.H. HUEY 

The second image shows prink flowers growing from a green vine on a sandy dune. The image caption reads: [Dunes: created by sand, wind, and stabilizing plants like the railroad vine.] Source: © JERMY WOODHOUSE 

The third image shows a small pond surrounded by tall grass. The image caption reads: [Grasslands: protected inland areas of vegetation and brackish pools fed by washover.] Source: © GEORGE H.H. HUEY 

The fourth image shows twelve white pelicans standing in shallow water. The pelicans are in a line as some are resting while others are preening their feathers. The image caption reads: [White pelicans congregate on a small island built with dredged materials.] Source: © GEORGE H.H. HUEY 

Padre Island is one of a chain of islands that stretch along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States from Maine to Texas. Called barrier islands, they protect the mainland from the direct onslaught of storm tides. On many of these low-lying islands, humans have left their mark: homes, lighthouses, fishing villages, vacation resorts. But on Padre Island, nature’s hand is most evident. 

Here you can witness change wrought by gentle breezes, relentlessly crashing waves, rhythmic tides, violent tropical storms, and hurricanes. These natural sculptors shape and reshape the island’s many environments—beaches, dunes, grasslands, and tidal flats. Waves deposit new seashells, storms cut new channels, and winds pick up and move sand in an endless cycle. The entire island slowly moves toward the mainland as winds and storms shift sand to its west side. 

In this landscape of change, Padre Island’s plants and animals are adapted to survive and even thrive. Railroad vines can push up through eight inches of blowing sand per day to stay on the surface. Dunes, when held in place by plants, can grow to heights of 50 feet as long as the plants aren’t destroyed. A particularly fierce storm can damage dunes; so can people when they trample or drive over the grasses. 

Among the flourishing wildlife are birds that live here year-round or visit seasonally. Laughing gulls circle overhead and sandpipers probe for crustaceans on the beach. White-tailed hawks soar and sandhill cranes rattle as they strut through tall grasslands. Rare piping plovers forage and white pelicans float gracefully along the Laguna Madre. Around 380 bird species—almost 45 percent of all those in North America—have been found in the park. 

Many other kinds of animals live here too. Coyotes, white-tailed deer, black-tailed jackrabbits, lizards, and Western diamondback rattlesnakes live in the dunes and grasslands. Ghost crabs and ghost shrimp thrive in the intertidal zone. Five sea turtle species can be found in the Gulf of Mexico and three of them nest at the seashore. The Gulf’s offshore waters and the Laguna Madre are rich in underwater life. 

Constant change and rich natural resources define Padre Island National Seashore. Come here to explore and enjoy the world of the barrier island. 


Activities Ashore and Afloat


This section contains four images. 

The first image shows a lightning whelk shell. The shell is a light tan color and has brown stripes. The image caption reads: [Lighting whelk.] Source: NPS 

The second image shows two people windsurfing on the Laguna Madre. They are standing on their windsurfing boards while holding brightly colored sails as they move over the water making splashes. The image caption reads: [The Laguna Madre is ideal for windsurfing and sailing. Use only small watercraft to navigate this large but shallow body of water.] Source: © GEORGE H.H. HUEY

The third image shows a group of people playing in the ocean and sand. Several people are laying in the sand at the water's edge while one person carries an orange inflatable float. The image caption reads: [Padre Island’s Gulf beaches are ideal for swimming, sunbathing, strolling, and beachcombing.] Source: © ELEANOR S. MORRIS 

The fourth image shows a person standing a the edge of the water holding a fishing pole. A second fishing pole is staked into the sand. The image caption reads: [Surf fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is a popular pastime. All you need is a pole, bait, and Texas state fishing license with a saltwater stamp.] Source: © JAMES P. BROWN 

One way to see Padre Island’s sights is to drive the scenic roads and sandy beaches. A 5.5-mile paved entrance road is open to all vehicles. North Beach and the first five miles of South Beach are generally accessible with 2-wheel-drive vehicles, but at your own risk.

South Beach includes 60 miles of beach open to driving. Anyone traveling south of Milepost 5 should use a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. Loose, shifting sand and marine debris can make the beach almost impassable. Carry emergency supplies and be prepared for an extended stay if you become stranded. Cell phone reception is poor to nonexistent. 

Before starting your first 4-wheel-drive trip on the island, ask a park ranger what to expect. All dunes, grasslands, tidal flats, and the Malaquite Beach area are off-limits to vehicles. Be careful approaching pedestrians; they may not hear your engine above the sounds of the surf and wind. Obey posted speed limits (15 mph on beaches unless otherwise noted). Texas considers beaches public highways, so all vehicles must be legally registered and insured. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are prohibited in the park. 

Hiking offers another way to explore the park. The Grasslands Nature Trail, a paved, accessible 0.75-mile loop, winds through grassland and dune habitats. Pick up a plant guide at the trailhead, bring insect repellent, watch for rattlesnakes, and stay on the trail. Beach hiking can be slow but rewarding, especially if you like solitude, beachcombing, or birding. 

Birding attracts people looking for Padre Island’s over 380 bird species. Enjoy beachcombing for natural treasures like shells, but leave live animals and cultural or archeological objects where found. The best times for beachcombing are summer mornings, winter and spring days at low tide, and after a storm. Metal detectors are prohibited. 

Except January through March, the hot Texas sun and the Gulf’s warm waters make the beaches ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Use caution: No lifeguards are present; never enter the water alone. Beware of dangerous currents, undertows, Portuguese man-of-war, and stingrays. Surfing is allowed, except in front of the visitor center. 

Enjoy the water also by boating and windsurfing in the Laguna Madre. Small power or fishing boats, sailboats, and other small watercraft can navigate the bay’s shallow waters. Launch or use of Jet Skis® and similar personal watercraft is not allowed in the park. The park boat ramp is at Bird Island Basin. You may also launch inflatable boats up to 14 feet long into the Gulf at any location south of Milepost 5 on South Beach. Boaters should carry nautical charts and stay aware of weather and other boaters. 

Fishing is an all-year sport on Padre Island. Catch redfish, speckled sea trout, black drum, and whiting in the Gulf. Pull in sheepshead, croaker, and flounder in the Laguna Madre. A Texas state fishing license with a saltwater stamp is required. Fishing is not allowed on the beach in front of the visitor center. 

Camping is available year-round. Malaquite Campground, a developed campground for tent and RV camping, overlooks the Gulf. Bird Island Basin Campground offers tent and RV camping along the Laguna Madre. Primitive camping is allowed on North and South beaches. 

Campfires are permitted on park beaches; fire pans are required at Bird Island Basin and Malaquite campgrounds. Control your campfires: Keep them well away from dunes and grasslands. Douse fires thoroughly with water when done and bury the remains. 

Picnic at shaded tables in the Malaquite Beach area or simply spread out a blanket on the beach.  

All pets must be leashed and under your control at all times. Check the park website for regulations about where pets are allowed. Please clean up after your pet. 


Seashore Sites and Services


This section is text only. 

Fees are charged for entering the park, camping at Malaquite or Bird Island Basin campgrounds, and for using the boat ramp. Camping is limited to 14 days at one time and 28 calendar days per year. After each 14-day stay, you must remove all camping equipment and vehicles from the park for at least 14 days before returning. You need a permit for primitive camping, which you can get at self-service kiosks at Malaquite Campground, North and South beaches, and Bird Island Basin. 


Malaquite Pavilion

This section is text only. 

Malaquite Pavilion is the center for visitor services. The visitor center has an information desk, bookstore, exhibits, a first-aid station, and beach wheelchairs. The pavilion also has picnic tables, two observation decks, restrooms, and cold rinse-off showers. 

The visitor center is open daily except December 25. It has schedules of park programs, special events, and beach cleanups. Leashed pets are allowed in the park; check the park website for regulations about where pets are allowed. 


Malaquite Campground

This section is text only. 

Malaquite Campground is 100 yards from the Gulf. It has 48 sites for tents and RVs, flush toilets, running water, and cold-water showers. There are no RV hookups, but a sanitary dump station and water-filling station are just outside the entrance. The campground is open year-round and is first-come, first-served (no reservations). During most of the year plenty of space is available. 


Park Headquarters

This section is text only. 

Park Headquarters has administrative and maintenance facilities; no public services.


Bird Island Basin

This section is text only. 

Bird Island Basin, with its shallow, warm water and nearly constant breeze, is one of the nation’s top areas for windsurfing. Kayaking and windsurfing lessons and equipment rentals are available. Bird Island Basin also has the park’s boat ramp into the Laguna Madre. The Bird Island Basin Campground has 34 sites for tents and RVs, and chemical toilets. 


Yarborough Pass

This section is text only. 

Yarborough Pass can be reached only by 4-wheel drive. This area has good wade fishing, birding, and primitive camping. Use caution when driving here—vehicles can get stuck in the exceptionally deep sand. 


South Beach

This section is text only. 

South Beach is a 60-mile-long remote beach open to driving. Two-wheel-drive vehicles are usually able to travel to Milepost 5; after that, 4-wheel-drive vehicles are required. See details on the other side of this brochure. 



This section is text only. 

Climate: Average summer temperatures range from lows in the 70s°F to highs in the lower 90s°F. Winter lows are commonly in the 40s and 50s°F with highs in the 60s°F. In spring and fall, average lows are in the 50s and 60s°F; average highs are in the 70s and 80s°F. High humidity and breezy conditions are common year-round. Hurricane season lasts from June through November. 


Shoreline Trash

This section is text only. 

Shoreline Trash: Most garbage on the beaches is washed in by Gulf currents. Both park staff and the general public participate in beach cleanups. For information or to volunteer, contact the Malaquite Visitor Center. 



This section is text only. 

Accessibility: We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. Call or check our website for more information. 



This section is text only. 

Firearms: For firearms regulations check the park website. 



This section is text only. 

Emergencies call 911 


More Information

This section is text only. 

Padre Island National Seashore is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit

More Information
Padre Island National Seashore
PO Box 181300
Corpus Christi, TX 78480-1300

Follow us on social media. 


Area Map


The purpose of this zoomed out map of the area is orientation and navigation. The national seashore is shown in the center, north is oriented at the top. Cities to the north of the park are Corpus Christi, Port Aransas, Aransas pass, and Rockport. Cities to the west of the park are Kingsville and Port Mansfield. Cities to the south of the park are South Padre Island, Port Isabel, Brownsville, and Harlingen. Several other recreation areas are shown on the map. To the north is Padre Balli County Park (Bob Hall Pier), Mustang Island State Park, and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. To the south is Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Palo Alto National Historical Park, Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historical Site, and Brazos Island State Park. The Gulf of Mexico is to the east of the park.

Corpus Christi and other area communities have many visitor services, some not available in the park—lodging, gas stations, restaurants, and fishing tackle and bait shops. Padre Balli County and Mustang Island State parks have campgrounds with hookups. At Padre Balli you can also fish at the popular Bob Hall Pier. Observe bird life at Aransas or Laguna Atascosa national wildlife refuges—both have scenic drives and trails. For more information, call the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, 800-766-2322 or go to

National Park Foundation
Join the park community. 


Park Map


This aerial map of Padre Island National Seashore and the immediate surrounding area has a main purpose of orientation and navigation. This map also gives the viewer an understanding of beach access, beach mile markers, roads, campgrounds, and services in the park. 

The park visitor center is located near the northern end of the map. The Gulf of Mexico is to the east of the park. The Laguna Madre is to the west of the park. The mainland is further west, beyond the Laguna Madre.



A compass rose. 

A scale indicating this map depicts an area 71 miles North-South by 37 miles East-West.

Land cover: yellow for beach and dunes, brown from dredged materials, green for grasslands, flats, and other.

Water: light blue for tidal flats and lakes, blue for open water.

Roads: solid red line for paved road, dashed white line for unpaved road.

Icons for: picnic area, boat ramp, showers, wind surfing, campground, primitive campsite. 



Description of amenities will be in order of most to least frequently used starting with the visitor center area: 

The visitor center area has park information, restrooms, showers, a gift shop, a picnic area, and beach access. Beach wheelchairs are available in the visitor center.

South Beach is a 3-minute drive south of the visitor center area. It has restrooms (at the entrance only), beach driving, and primitive camping.

Malaquite Campground area is a 3-minute drive north of the visitor center area. It has restrooms, showers, RV and tent campsites, beach access, and a RV dump station.

Bird Island Basin area is an 8-minute drive northwest of the visitor center area. It has a boat ramp, campground, picnic area, restrooms, and windsurfing and kayak rentals.

North Beach is an 8-minute drive north of the visitor center area. It has beach driving, and primitive camping.



The main road leading to the park from the city of Corpus Christi is Park Road 22. Park Road 22 runs north to south in the park for approximately 5 miles.

Two secondary roads branch off from Park Road 22. Traveling from the north into the park the first secondary road is to the left just before the park entrance station. This short road leads to North Beach.

Continuing south on Park Road 22 past the entrance station to the left is Bird Island Basin Road. This road leads to the Bird Island Basin boat ramp, day-use area, campground, and windsurfing area.

Continuing south on Park Road 22 the next destinations are Park Headquarters, Malaquite Campground, Malaquite Visitor Center, Malaquite Beach, and South Beach, in that order.

No paved roads continue beyond the start of South Beach. Beach driving is allowed on South Beach and North Beach. Four-wheel drive vehicles are always recommended. Yarborough Pass, a secondary unpaved road is located fifteen miles south on South Beach. High clearance four-wheel drive vehicles are required on Yarborough Pass.  


Hiking Trails

One hiking trail is available in the park. This trail, the Grasslands Nature Trail, is located near the park entrance station on Park Road 22. The trial is approximately ¾ of a mile in length and forms a loop. The trail is wheelchair accessible with a paved surface and several benches located throughout.  


Natural Highlights

The vast Gulf of Mexico marks the eastern edge of the national seashore and Padre Island. The island runs north to south with a slight bend to it. To the west of the national seashore is the Laguna Madre, a hypersaline lagoon. Several smaller bays extend off if the Laguna Madre. The Mansfield Channel, an artificial waterway, makes up the southern end of the island and the southern boundary of the national seashore.


Cultural Highlights

Novillo Line Camp (historic structures) is marked on the map just across from the intersection of Park Road 22 and Bird Island Basin Road. The line camp is the remnants of a historic cattle ranch that once occupied Padre Island. The line camp was used as an outpost by cattle ranchers who were tending to their herd. 


Saving Sea Turtles


This section contains one images.

The image shows a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle digging a nest on the beach next to the edge of the dunes.  The image caption reads: [Kemp’s ridley sea turtle digging her nest] Source: NPS 

Since 1978 Padre Island National Seashore has worked with other agencies in the United States and Mexico to bring the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle back from the brink of extinction. Ridley nesting has increased in Texas and Mexico, with about 60 percent of the nests found in the US on North Padre Island. 

Researchers remove sea turtle eggs from nests into protected care. Later, the hatchlings are released on the beach and guarded as they enter the surf. As a result, thousands of baby sea turtles have had a chance at life. 

Stay alert during turtle nesting season, March to September. These turtles blend in with the sand and often nest in the beach roadway. They cannot move quickly. If you see a nesting mother, protect her from passing traffic, but remain at least 20 feet behind her until she has dug her nest and laid a few eggs. You may then approach close enough to see if she has a metal tag on her flipper. Note the number on the tag. Mark the nest with material found nearby on the beach but do not push objects in the sand to mark the nest; this can damage the eggs. If possible take photos or video. Do not touch or restrain the mother turtle. Report the sighting immediately to a sea turtle patroller; or call the sea turtle researcher at 361-949-8173, ext. 226. 

Most hatchling releases take place between May and August. Each year several are open to the public at no charge. Call the 24-hour Hatchling Hotline at 361-949-7163 for the date and location of the next release. Turtle releases are usually held at dawn. 

Last updated: August 19, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 181300
Corpus Christi, TX 78480


(361) 949-8068
Malaquite Visitor Center information line.

Contact Us