South Padre Island is a delightful oasis of tropical climate, white sand beaches, and crystal clear waters.
This barrier island is known for its impeccably stunning beauty and its vistas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay.
People come here all year round to leave their worries behind and relax on 34 miles of beach and exquisite serene recreation.
No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to enjoy calm weather, sunshine most days of the year, and tranquil waters.
South Padre Island is conveniently designed with tourists in mind.
It’s an especially big hit with anglers, birders, and wildlife enthusiasts.
This is due to the multitude of fauna that thrives perfectly in its ecosystem.
The island is also well-known for exciting offerings for recreation, like theme parks and watersports.
Regardless, there are tons to enjoy!
How can you choose?
Here are the 28 best and fun things to do in South Padre Island, Texas.
Things To Do In South Padre Island
1. Isla Blanca Park
Isla Blanca Park is a county park and one of the most popular South Padre Island attractions.
It’s situated on the far south of the island and is surrounded by the lovely waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazos Santiago Pass, and even the Laguna Madre.
Visitors to Texas love taking road trips to this decadent natural spot.
It’s also one of the nicest free things to do in the area!
The park is equipped with many facilities for modern sensibilities.
Bathroom facilities are well-maintained, and a large RV camp, big parking areas, and paved trails with wide, generous space make the experience all the more enjoyable.
There are jetties for fishing (with fish bait shops!), surfing, and people-watching as ships travel in and out while dolphins swim by.
The main trail of Isla Blanca Park runs for about one and a half miles around the park’s perimeter.
It’s ideal for jogging, walking, and even biking.
There’s a playground, some boating facilities, and a lot more possibilities for activities.
Don’t forget to visit the iconic statue of El Cristo de Los Pescadores at Isla Blanca Park.
Translated as “Christ of the Fisherman,” this huge, much-loved attraction is stunning to behold!
Address: 33174 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
2. South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center
South Padre Island is home to one of the very top hotspots for birdwatching in all of the Rio Grande Valley.
This is a great place to observe South Texas’ coastal natural wildlife, including butterflies that live in the center’s beautiful garden.
Nature-lovers wondering what to do to entrench themselves in their passions will also enjoy the center.
Birding tours are a great way to ensure that you see all the best spots for the activity at South Padre Island Birding & Nature Center.
You can also explore on your own by walking through the boardwalk path.
The butterfly garden, of course, is also a lovely option, and summer to late fall is the most ideal time for this, as the Monarch butterflies come fluttering in!
Among the birds you can spot at the Birding & Nature Center are orioles, warblers, hummingbirds, egrets, herons, blackbirds, ibis, and more.
Most of these birds are only here seasonally as they stop during their flight paths, but there are some that live here all year round!
Address: 6801 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
3. Sea Turtle, Inc.
Sea Turtle, Inc. was founded in 1977 as an institution dedicated to the protection, rehabilitation, and preservation of marine turtles of all species.
On South Padre Island, Texas, it’s one of the key places to visit for animal lovers who want to support the conservation of these great reptiles.
There’s lots to see and do at Sea Turtle, Inc.
You can learn to identify different turtle species or watch some baby turtles get released into the ocean.
You can pay to “adopt” some baby nests or turtles to help the facility continue to fund their work.
It’s always great to get up close and personal with these great creatures!
You can learn even more while at Sea Turtle, Inc. by sitting in at a conservation presentation, which is an engaging and educational way to learn about the institute’s efforts and what you can do to support the cause.
If you’re here with family, kids will love the fun activities, like scavenger hunts and classes.
Address: 6617 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
4. Laguna Madre Nature Trail
The stretching expanse of the boardwalk of the Laguna Madre Nature Trail is one of the best places to visit and one of the best free things to see in this part of Texas.
The boardwalk runs all the way from Laguna Madre’s wetlands itself up to the South Padre Island Convention Center.
It’s open all day long, 24 hours, and is a great sightseeing venue.
The Laguna Madre Nature Trail gives you the chance to spot over 300 different bird species, a number of alligators, and lots of diverse fauna.
The Laguna Madre itself is very unique, as it is one of the few six lagoons worldwide that is saltier than the whole ocean!
Address: 7355 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
5. Beach Park At Isla Blanca
While you’re in Isla Blanca, another one of the things to do in South Padre Island is not to be missed here – especially if you’re traveling with family!
Beach Park At Isla Blanca is a fun, 25-acre waterpark that is the most popular of its kind in this part of Texas.
There are a whopping 13 different slides and numerous floating river systems.
There are more in-depth ways to enjoy Beach Park At Isla Blanca during your trip this weekend.
Lots of dining establishments ensure you can easily eat your fill.
Great beaches connect to the park or are near enough to it to be easy to directly visit.
Lodging at the resort of Beach Park is luxurious and relaxing, too.
South Padre Island may be full of ways to experience real water, but something a little bit of a controlled environment isn’t a bad thing.
Keep your kids entertained on the huge sandcastle playground or the surfing machine, and the adults can lounge at the hot tub bar.
Address: 33261 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
6. Southern Wave Sailing Charters
If you’re looking for stuff to do on the water in South Padre Island, one of the best companies to get such an experience with is Southern Wave Sailing Charters.
They use a stunning 48-foot Catamaran that is custom-built for maximum safety and enjoyment, allowing you to really immerse yourself in the beauty of coastal Texas.
Southern Wave Sailing Charters also offers a number of additional programs.
There are rentals for paddleboards, kayaks, and paddleboats, as well as great 4-hour snorkeling trips urs that bring you to the most opportune diving locations.
Their dinner cruises are also pretty impressive!
All relevant trips come with provided gear and some even have a meal served with them.
Address: 205 W Palm St, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
7. South Padre Island Adventure Park
It’s one of the places to go for everything from horseback riding to adrenaline-seeking action in this part of Texas.
The admission fee covers virtually all of the possible things to get done here at this 40-acre wonderland!
The main draw of the adventure park is the horseback riding excursions.
The 90-minute riding tour gives you the chance to sightsee along the shoreline while viewing the different plants that grow along its stretch.
Different tours at different times have something different to offer!
Then, there’s the awesome zipline course, where you can zoom over the park at a speed of your choice.
A modern transition system allows you to actually pick how quickly the circuit runs.
After that, you can go for a swim or head to the beach for a hayride.
You’ll also love the petting barn filled with cute animals.
Finally, kick back and relax that evening while eating luau food in front of a bonfire on the beach!
Address: 21040 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
8. UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab
The UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab was created in 1973 and is a great resource to learn about South Padre Island and the South Texas portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a community outreach and research center with engaging programs. This is one of the top ways to learn about coastal concerns.
The UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab showcases a number of different nature videos during its public opening hours.
Self-guided tours are fascinating, and there’s also a fun touch tank where you can get up close with cool marine life!
You’ll learn about invertebrates and view a neat shell collection.
This is also one of the free things to do in the area, so it’s definitely not to be missed if you have some time to spare!
Address: 100 Marine Lab Dr, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
9. Padre Island National Seashore
Looking for more places to visit near South Padre Island for a short getaway this weekend?
Travel to Padre Island National Seashore, the world’s biggest stretch of undeveloped barrier island.
It separates the Laguna Madre from the Gulf of Mexico and is made up of a shocking 66 miles of dunes, prairies, flats, and more.
There are so many ways to enjoy Padre Island National Seashore!
The beach has space for all sorts of activities, like fishing, beachcombing, swimming, and camping.
There’s more fishing, as well as windsurfing and boating, to be done in the Laguna Madre.
The laguna is one of the planet’s saltiest bodies of water and is a mere three feet in depth.
You can also drive down the island, take part in programs for all ages, go birdwatching and simply thoroughly enjoy the natural location.
Padre Island National Seashore is the home of more than 380 species of birds and is also a safe haven for sea turtles to nest.
There’s a fair bit of history to the location, too, with Spanish shipwrecks visible within its expanse, dating back to 1554.
All in all, this storied site is well worth a trip!
Address: 20301 Park Rd 22, Corpus Christi, TX 78418, United States
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10. Sand Castle Lessons
It sounds strange, but one of the most fun South Padre Island attractions is more of a thing that you can do!
Sand castle lessons are some of the most unique activities that this lovely Texas location offers, with numerous lesson providers and businesses throughout South Padre Island.
Believe it or not, there are professional sand sculptors, and many of them call this island their home ground for their work and their teaching.
Most teachers offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons and most will happily meet you on the beach you prefer.
Equipment is typically provided, and you’ll be surprised by how much goes into a proper sand sculpture!
If you’re here at the right time, you may even be able to catch a sandcastle building competition.
You’ll watch both the masters and the newcomers at work with their impressive, jaw-dropping creations.
Your mind will be opened to the possibilities of sand-made art!
Address: 3000 Gulf Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
11. Gravity Park
Are you seeking some excitement as you ponder what to do in South Padre Island, Texas?
Gravity Park is a thrilling location that fits the bill!
Close to the beach, this amusement park is jam-packed with a mix of exciting and enjoyable attractions that will fill your time and are perfect for all ages.
Among the activities at Gravity Park is a go-karting course, set on a wooden track with multiple levels.
There are double cars for young kids to ride with adults, too!
There’s also a lovely mini-golf course that’s simple and sweet, an arcade for great games, a climbing wall to challenge yourself, and a relaxing 60-foot-tall Ferris wheel.
For people who want something a little more exciting in South Padre Island, there’s the rushing Skycoaster, a trampoline experience, and of course, the world’s tallest reverse bungee, the Rocket.
That might be where Gravity Park gets its name from!
Address: 106 W Marlin St, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
12. Osprey Cruises
If you’re seeking the very best romantic things to do in South Padre Island, board one of the luxury pleasure boats at Osprey Cruises.
With a total of six different boats that each offer something unique, as well as custom charters available, the company brings you out onto the ocean for the tour of your choice.
You can go on group charters or book a private experience, as you prefer!
Of the five tour types available, the Dinner Cruise is likely the most romantic.
This occurs on the Osprey Luxury Sightseeing Cruise ship and is a mix of a dolphin-watching experience, eco-tour, and delicious nighttime meal.
Service is top-tier, with yummy food like bacon-wrapped shrimp and shrimp skewers, chicken kebabs, sirloin steak, fresh seasonal veggies and fruits, and more.
There are also good drinks to sip on the way.
Another popular option is the pirate ship cruise, called the Black Dragon Pirate Ship.
Staff dress as pirates to entertain you while you drift along the marine hatchery of the Laguna Madre.
You’ll even hunt for treasure, learn to speak and fight like a pirate, and eat great grog while you’re on board!
There’s also the Sea Life Safari Cruise, which is a dolphin-watching nature tour.
You’ll learn a lot about the ecology of this part of Texas on a narrated eco-tour on a 70-foot passenger vessel with surprising luxury.
Finally, try one of Osprey Cruises’ fishing trips.
There’s Deep Sea Fishing on the Osprey Fishing Charter, perfect for bottom fishing and drift fishing.
You’ll catch amberjack, kingfish, dorado, grouper, shark, and red snapper here.
The second kind is the Bay Fishing trip on the Bay King and Buccaneer, a first-class 50-foot boat with highly modern navigation, safety, and fish-locating technology!
Address: 501 E Maxan St, Port Isabel, TX 78578, United States
13. Wyland’s Whaling Wall
Wyland’s Whaling Wall is a huge, life-sized mural lovingly painted onto the side of the South Padre Island Convention Center.
The enormous work of art was made as a part of the Wyland’s Walls campaigns, which is the work of well-known artist Wyland and the Wyland Foundation.
The goal of the campaign was to finish a total of 100 different marine murals in public spaces, each one life-sized.
This goal was accomplished in 2008 and took 27 years to finish, spanning 5 continents, 17 countries, and 79 cities.
Wyland’s Whaling Wall here in this part of Texas is number 53 of the bunch, titled “Orcas Off The Gulf Of Mexico”.
Today, it’s one of the more unique and fun things to see, truly one-of-a-kind in the world!
Address: 7355 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
14. Blackbeards’ Restaurant
Wondering what things to do in South Padre Island are good for food?
You can’t go wrong with Blackbeards’ Restaurant!
The establishment was opened in 1978 inside a 2/2 beach renovated and remodeled with a deck.
Its goal was simple: to serve cold beer and good burgers.
It opened with merely 24 chairs and stools.
Today, Blackbeards’ Restaurant of South Padre Island, Texas has gone through many changes to grow into its final form.
The menu has swelled, going from simple fares like sandwiches, burgers, and salads to much more complex meals for all diners.
You’ll find scrumptious offerings like Tenderloin Filet, Ginger Teriyaki Tuna Steak, Bourbon Strip Steak, Seafood Platter Supreme, and Crab Cakes.
Regardless of what you order, you can trust that they’re fresh – everything from the onion rings to the tarter sauce and from chicken steak to crab cakes, are made daily.
Blackbeards’ Restaurant also has a full-service bar that serves margaritas and 32 varieties of beer for the thirsty!
Address: 103 E Saturn Ln, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
15. The Original Dolphin Watch
The Original Dolphin Watch, as its name suggests, is one of the most fun South Padre Island attractions.
It offers an incredible way to see the waters of Texas while catching a glimpse of the highly intelligent, playful dolphins that inhabit the waters.
There are pods of spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins that permanently live around the area, ensuring a guaranteed sighting.
The Original Dolphin Watch uses a 60-foot cruise boat and serves a number of good light refreshments, bringing you to Devil’s Elbow to see the sights.
There are also some cool snorkeling trips to the six-foot-deep Laguna Madre Estuary that you can try!
For a more unique, immersive time, try the Dolphin Watch Evening Tour so you can enjoy your time as the sun sets.
Address: 33256 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
16. Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier
Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier is in Cameron County, right on the southernmost side of South Padre Island, Texas!
This old fishing pier was used as a causeway until the early 1970s when its purpose was fulfilled by a new bridge.
Today, the central portion of the causeway was taken out, and now the portion on the side of the island is the Queen Isabella State Fishing Pier.
This is one of the best sites for fishermen to catch the likes of croaker, speckled trout, sheepshead, and sand trout.
If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent or buy some at stores and stalls waiting for you.
And, when you get tired of fishing, you can rest and relax with some serene, chill fun in the surrounding 1-acre park.
Address: 501 E Maxan St, South Padre Island, TX 78578, United States
17. Museums of Port Isabel
One of the best places to visit that is right near South Padre Island, Texas is Port Isabel.
It’s just about 9 minutes away.
History buffs will especially enjoy the Museums of Port Isabel: three immensely loved historic locations.
You can visit all of them at a discounted rate if you like!
The most popular of this group is likely the Port Isabel Lighthouse, which dates back to 1852.
Once upon a time, it was an important beacon to guide water vessels through the Brazos Santiago Pass.
You can climb up to the lighthouse or visit the cottage of the groundskeeper.
Next, head to the Port Isabel Historical Museum, which is just to the lighthouse’s south.
It contains one of the world’s biggest collections of Mexican-American War artifacts.
For some entertainment, it even has a theater!
Finally, go to the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, a great sight for families.
You can climb onto a ship dating back to the 16th century and view some of the amazing treasures that the Gulf has held and concealed in Spanish shipwrecks from the 1500s.
18. Andy Bowie County Park
The Andy Bowie County Park is situated right across from the South Padre Island Convention Center in the island’s north area.
This Texas park is primarily a beach park, boasting an impressive 20 miles of sand that is hard-packed and very much loved by off-road drivers.
If you’re an off-roader, this is one of the top sites to really enjoy that activity!
There are also other fun things to enjoy if you’re here this weekend.
Rent stuff for the beach to make your enjoyment even better.
Swim, fish, have a picnic, do some barbeque, and chow down on concessions.
If you have extra dough to spend, you can even stay at the flagship hotel!
Address: 7300 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
19. Fins to Feathers
Fins to Feathers is one of the things to do in South Padre Island, Texas for a good tour of Laguna Madre Bay.
As its name suggests, the company makes it easy for you to view dolphins and birds alike.
Each tour is run by the impressive, highly knowledgeable Captain Ford Locket, who has been doing similar ventures since 1997.
Dolphin tours at Fins to Feathers are truly special.
Dolphins are familiar with the boat used by Fins and Feathers and will eagerly come to play with the captain.
Bird watchers will also delight in the careful, very slow approach of the vessel, so you can see the wildlife of South Padre Island undisturbed.
Captain Locket also gives his guests information about the history and nature of the area.
You’ll learn more about the importance of protecting and conserving wild, natural areas!
Address: South Padre Island, TX, United States
20. Largest Outdoor Sandcastle in the USA
We’ve already talked about how central South Padre Island, Texas is to the world of professional sand sculpting.
It’s no surprise, then, that the Largest Outdoor Sandcastle in the USA is among South Padre Island attractions.
It’s not just a work of art, either – it’s a fantastic tourist information center, too.
This unique attraction is an ongoing project, first created in 2013.
It’s amazingly detailed, and it’s the centerpiece of the larger South Padre Island Sandcastle Trail.
The trail has an impressive 30 castles along the entire walk!
Photographers will love the Largest Outdoor Sandcastle in the USA because every angle looks different.
Pose with all the sides and you’ll feel like you’re seeing a brand new castle every time.
Address: 610 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
21. Isla Tours
Isla Tours is a great touring company that uses an amusingly named party yacht named Murphy’s Law.
The company is most known for its amazing nighttime party cruises, where you’ll see the sunset and dance the night away to the music of a DJ with drinks in your hand.
If you’re here from Memorial Day to October and aren’t sure what to do, Isla Tours is a great option.
This is because each Friday and Saturday evening, South Padre Island is decorated with fireworks.
Isla Tours offers a fantastic view of this jaw-dropping spectacle.
The captain anchors you there so that you can really appreciate those fireworks at night.
Not much for nighttime parties?
Isla Tours has more to offer.
There are respectable deep sea fishing trips, lots of eco-tours, and interesting tours of the Port of Brownsville area.
Address: 33256 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
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22. Sea Ranch
Sea Ranch is one of the key places to visit if you want super fresh seafood on South Padre Island, Texas.
For over 35 years, the establishment has served its guests locally caught seafood, freshly prepared from the Gulf of Mexico.
The seasonal menu rotates depending on what can be caught at the time, so you know it’s really fresh!
Among the popular dishes at Sea Ranch are the Live Maine Lobster, Red Snapper, King Crab Legs, Gulf Coast Shrimp, and Seafood Enchiladas.
Appetizers include the likes of Oysters or Shrimp Rockefeller and a selection of salads and soups.
Children aged 12 and below can order off the special kids’ menu!
Sea Ranch also offers a large selection of classy wines that will suit most people’s tastes.
The lounge, meanwhile, has carefully crafted cocktails and drinks that are well worth a sip as you lean back and relax.
Address: 33330 State Park Rd 100, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
23. Air Padre Kiteboarding
Air Padre Kiteboarding is one of the most fun ways to see all the different things to see on South Padre Island.
This watersports facility, as its name suggests, is most known for its kiteboarding experiences.
You’ll be given the right equipment, with good advice if it’s your first time that will help you get the most out of the activity.
There are also other options at Air Padre Kiteboarding.
Slower-paced options are renting paddleboards, jet skis, or kayaks.
It’s a great workout and a calming way to see all that the island has to offer.
Address: 5709 Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
24. Bobz World
Bobz World is both one of the most exciting and most unique things to do in South Padre Island.
The big and bold amusement park brings together recreation, nature, and even history into one neat package that’s fun for people of all ages.
What draws people to Bobz World the most is this: it is home to the biggest arena for laser tag in all of the state of Texas.
If that’s not up your alley, you can play some mini-golf lit only by black lights or go to the video arcade that boasts a whopping 50 or more games.
There is also a really beautiful botanical garden and a fairly interesting museum with 20 exhibits.
The garden is themed after Jurassic dinosaurs and spans one acre, boasting flora interspersed with sculpted animals and dinos and the odd waterfall or two.
If you get hungry, head to Tidal Wave Cafe.
Here, they serve burgers, pizza, and a rather impressive 32 different flavors of ice cream.
Don’t forget to start by the gift shop for souvenirs, too.
Address: 36451 TX-100, Los Fresnos, TX 78566, United States
25. SpaceX Rocket Launch
Some of the most fascinating tourist attractions in this part of Texas are the SpaceX Rocket Launches.
You’ve likely already heard about them, as the internet has been abuzz with all sorts of excitement and opinion regarding these launches.
Check the schedule for launches, and if you’re around at the right time, you can travel across the island and out past the bay to head to Boca Chica where one of these launch sites is for a front-row seat.
SpaceX Rocket Launch, despite its controversies, is certainly making history.
This is where some of the planet’s most advanced technology in rockets and rocket science are tested and displayed.
Do note that launches depend on the weather and can be canceled due to equipment failure.
It’s not uncommon for launches to move, so be ready for that possibility!
Still, with just 5 miles to travel from South Padre, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed.
26. South Padre Island Watersports
South Padre Island Watersports, as its name suggests, is one of the best companies to use for fun watersports action!
If you’ve always wanted to try one of these sports but haven’t had the chance to, this is a great time to try.
Instructors at the business are very experienced and knowledgable, and they have a lot of respect for the preferred pace of their customers.
They’re known to be very patient with those who make many mistakes and they’re happy to work with your availability and schedule.
They also prioritize safety, ensuring that your watersports experience is a positive one!
Among the watersports you can try here are surfing, kayaking, skimboarding, flyboarding, boogie boarding, paddle boarding and stand-up paddleboarding, and kiteboarding.
All equipment is rentable and training is easy to understand.
The company also uses a private ramp to ensure that you can have a calm experience on a channel that is protected and private.
Address: 5709 A Padre Blvd, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
27. Crystal Flats Guide Service
Need help finding all the places to go in South Padre Island for the most opportune fishing?
Crystal Flats Guide Service has you covered.
Tourists and anglers will love the chance to fish in the right locations, led by expert captains.
Crystal Flats Guide Service is led by Captain Fleming, who knows his stuff very well!
He and his crew will keep you feeling catered to during your charter on the 22-foot vessel you’ll be using.
You’ll fish in sites like Port Mansfield, Ports Brownsville, Lower Language Madre Bay, and close to the main island shore.
These charters are all customizable, too!
Address: 103 S Manautou St #1701, Port Isabel, TX 78578, United States
28. Eh Brah SUP
Eh Brah SUP might have a rather fun and amusing name, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the top locations for watersports on South Padre Island.
You can easily go looking for dolphins and turtles while using paddleboards or surfboards.
If you’ve never used either of these vessels before, don’t worry!
Eh Brah SUP has lots of great, experienced guides who can show you the ropes.
And if you’re an experienced boarder, you can head into the Gulf of Mexico and fight the rougher waters there.
Eh Brah SUP also provides all sorts of equipment for those who take tours or rent their equipment.
There are life preservers, booties, sunscreen, and water offered.
If you opt for tours, these last one hour and a half and are even dog-friendly, meaning your pup can come along!
Address: 5009 Padre Blvd STE 16, South Padre Island, TX 78597, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To South Padre Island
South Padre Island is a beautiful barrier island with lots to offer to its guests.
From natural environments teeming with wildlife to exciting amusement locations where you can test your skills and entertain yourself, there’s tons to do here.
Good, fresh food and historic locations are also well worth a trip, too.
Simply put, there’s a lot you can get into on this island.
Hopefully, this list has helped you decide on what you’ll be doing here at South Padre Island, Texas!