• Dave McGuire

Padre Island Offers Plenty of Recreation Choices

By Dale Lewis

Over the years I’ve highlighted the places to see not only in Bartlesville but in all the surrounding towns. I’ve also taken you to New York City to the east and L.A. to the west.

You regular readers have also followed me north to Helena, Montana, and south to Tucson, Arizona. This week, I’m taking you to a new place where around 380 bird species live along with five different species of sea turtles. Coyotes, white-tailed deer, black-tailed rabbits, lizards and diamond-backed snakes all call this place home as well. Along the 70 miles of shoreline, dangerous currents and undertow have swept many a man into the sea where Portuguese men-of-war and stingrays await. This place is called Laguna Madre, and it’s one of only six hypersaline lagoons in the world where the ocean water is extremely salty.

So where is this place, I hope you’re wondering. Well friends, it lies about 6 miles off the south coast of Texas and it is part of the Padre Island National Seashore, which by the way is one of over 400 parks in the National Park system. Something else I didn’t know is that Padre Island is one in a string of islands that stretches from Maine down here to Texas known as barrier islands. These land masses protect the mainland from the brunt of ocean storms, and because they lose a lot of sand in the process, they change shape with the weather.

The history of Padre Island goes back to Native Americans who fished and hunted in the area and includes Spanish explorers who landed here. Even today, remnants of their shipwrecked boats sometimes wash ashore.

Cattle ranching came next when settlers arrived, and then during World War II the Navy used part of the island as a bombing range. Today, Padre Island is explored by millions of visitors from across the country and throughout the world. Park rangers told me it’s bumper to bumper for miles along the beach during the summer season, but with year-around camping and mild temperatures I saw plenty of campers.

If camping out is not your thing don’t worry; nearby Port Aransas and Mustang Island offer hundreds of condo rentals, motels and RV parks with full-service hook-ups, all just a few miles from the park’s entrance.

Of course, seafood restaurants line the streets there, and traffic on the streets is about 50% cars and 50% golf carts. Legal on the town streets and beaches, I’m telling you these fancy carts are everywhere, and it seems like rental places are on every street corner. So, if you’re looking to fish, go beach combing or just enjoy the tranquility of nature, I guarantee a trip to Padre Island will make memories for a lifetime.

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