Kayaking South Padre Island

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of January 9-15, 1997
Hut-to-hut skiing in the Adirondacks
Family adventure, high in the saddle
Options for climbing Kilimanjaro
Kayaking South Padre Island
Reliable Boundary Waters outfitters

Kayaking South Padre Island
Question: I am interested in sea kayaking in the Padre Island area of Texas and cannot locate an outfitter. Any help would be appreciated.

Tom Moorehead
Seymour, TN
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: While South Padre Island is a magnet for greased-up college kids on spring break, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge--just across the water from South Padre on the southernmost stretch of Texas coast--is known in sea-kayaking circles for its tidal coves and inlets; hordes of snowy plovers and green jays, among other birds; and very few human visitors. That's because except for a 17-mile paved loop open to cyclists and hikers, the whole 45,000-acre refuge is off-limits. Kayak, then, is the best mode of transportation if you're looking to get a close-up look at Laguna's beachfront fauna. The closest kayaking outfitter, Windsurf Inc. on South Padre Island, rents boats for $35 per day (210-761-1434), or pick one up on your drive south at Wind and Wave in Corpus Christi, about 160 miles north of the refuge. Rentals go for for $35 per day or $200 per week, and it's a good idea to reserve one by calling 512-937-9283.

Put in on the Arroyo Colorado River, in Adolph Thomae Jr. Park near the refuge headquarters. Paddle to the river's mouth, then head north to Laguna Madre and into the refuge's remote, far-north section; although you're practically guaranteed not to see another person, you'll likely spot plenty of black-necked stilts and the occasional wild ocelot. After exploring the area, paddle back the way you came and head straight for the Yacht Club Hotel and Restaurant in nearby Port Isabel. Quiet, comfortable doubles cost $39 per night; call 210-943-1301 for details. For more information, contact the refuge at 210-748-3607 and check out "Where the Lone Star Meets the Sea" in the Destinations section of Outside's February 1997 issue.

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