Boating, Paddling, and Windsurfing



Boating in the park is a popular activity, especially among anglers. Most boaters utilize the Bird Island Basin Boat Ramp to launch their boat into the Laguna Madre for a day on the water. The Laguna Madre is a very shallow body of water, averaging around 4.5 feet (1.4 m) deep, and special consideration needs to be taken for navigation. The maintained shipping channel of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway has an average depth of 12 feet (3.7 m) and acts as the western boundary of the national seashore. Large boat and barge traffic is common in maintained shipping channel.

Boaters in approved small, soft hulled vessels occasionally launch into the Gulf of Mexico directly from South Beach south of the 5-mile marker. Special care must be used when launching approved vessels into the gulf due to the ocean waves.

A logo of an orange life jacket with the words wear it.
Texas state law requires that all children under 13 years old must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while aboard recreational vessels under 26ft in length when underway (including drifting or not at anchor). Adults must have a properly fitting life jacket that is easily accessible.

National Safe Boating Council

Where can I operate my motorboat in the park?

On the Laguna Madre side: Bird Island Basin offers a boat ramp with access to Laguna Madre.

Operating a motorized vessel in the area of the designated windsurfing area of Bird Island Basin is prohibited. For more information see Superintendent's Compendium Section 1.5.

On the Gulf of Mexico side: Zodiacs, Avons, and other soft hulled motorized vessels less than 14 feet in length are permitted to launch on South Beach south of the 5-mile marker. All other gulf beaches are closed to launching motorized soft hulled motorized vessels.

Hard hull motorized vessels are prohibited from launching into the Gulf of Mexico from all beaches within the park. For more information see Superintendent's Compendium Section 1.5.

All park waters: Launching or operating an airboat is prohibited. For more information on what vessel operations are prohibited, see 36 CFR Section 3.8.

Loading results...



    Kayaking and canoeing offer unique opportunities to explore the park in the salt water of the Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico. The Laguna Madre boasts shallow waters and protected areas that are perfect for both the beginner paddler and the seasoned explorers. The easiest launch site for paddlers wishing to explore the Laguna Madre is the Bird Island Basin Day-use Area. At Bird Island Basin, Worldwinds Windsurfing also offers kayak and standup paddle board rentals.

    Sea kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico is also permitted but is not recommended for beginners. Strong currents, wind, and large waves can increase the risks for inexperienced paddlers. Launching from the beach into the Gulf of Mexico can be done anywhere except the stretch of beach directly in front of the Malaquite Visitor Center.

    A group of people learning to windsurf
    A group participates in a beginner windsurfing lesson on the Laguna Madre.

    Worldwinds Windsurfing


    Windsurfing is a popular activity in the park. The steady wind, warm water, and shallow depths make the Bird Island Basin Day-use Area a premier windsurfing destination in the United States. The location is also a great place for beginners to learn the sport. The park hosts Worldwinds Windsurfing, an authorized concessionaire who provides gear rentals and lessons at Bird Island Basin.

    In accordance with the Superintendents Compendium Section 1.5, kite surfing/boarding is prohibited.

    Last updated: December 1, 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