We returned from our first “Odyssey” Sunday evening from exploring Padre Island National Seashore. We have to admit, it was the best weekend getaway that we could have planned and has left us all a little spoiled upon returning.
Driving to Padre Island National Seashore from Dallas
The drive from Dallas down to the beach took up seven hours or so with us stopping a few times for gas and breakfast. Megan has only driven to Killeen TX so far, so this was the longest drive south that she has taken. The stop at Buc-ee’s to grab breakfast and a little look around left us wanting to go back for a few things for future camping trips including a cast iron dutch oven. The closer to Padre Island National Seashore, and Corpus Christi we got, the more excited the girls were for our first camping trip.
Crossing John F Kennedy Memorial Causeway
We first passed over Oso Bay before we actually crossed the John F Kennedy Memorial Causeway, but the girls expression was priceless. We also stopped at the Dollar General for a few minutes for bread and a few more supplies that we would need while on the Island. As we started to cross the causeway the girls grew even more excited.
On the Island
After we were actual on the island, we knew it would be a while before we actually got to the park we were heading to. Park Rd 22 is a long road to head down and the visitors gate is a long drive to get to. What we didn’t know is that they had opened the main gate but was not in operation when we were driving up. We were stuck in a long line of cars. It took us about 30 minutes or so from this point to enter the park.
Since the main gate was not working, we headed down to the Malaquite Visitors Center to pay our entrance fee’s, which is only $10.00 for a week! As we waited in a long line to pay, a few of the Park Rangers were selling the passes in line for those that had cash, but since we were paying credit, we were not able to be in and out quickly like those with cash. Once at the registers, I also asked about staying at the Malaquite Campground or if it had already sold out for the night. I was told the best way to know that would be to actually head down there and see.
We spoke to another ranger as we were walking out about staying on South Beach, and if it would be safe for our car, an Impala, to drive on the beach there or if we would get stuck. What we were told was that the beach is hard packed for the first five miles and we would be good. He also stated that another visitor had driven behind a 4X4 truck in a car and made it 36 miles!
We went down to Malaquite Campgrounds and noticed it was full so we went ahead and went down to South beach to see about finding a spot to make camp for the night. We are actually happier that we were on South Beach than the other locations. Malaquite is an extra $8.00 per night where South Beach doesn’t have any extra fee’s to camp there over night. Meaning we would be able to camp an entire week for just $10.00 total if we were staying there more than the one night we had time for.
Setting Up Camp
After finding a spot to camp that didn’t have a lot of cars or campers around on the side where everyone was setting up camp, we parked the car and got out to look at the ground and figure out how we wanted to set up our new tent. Megan quickly sprayed everyone down with sunscreen and used sunscreen lotion on everyone’s faces while James started to get what we needed to set the tent up. The tent, an Ozark Trails 8 person tent, went up quickly even though we did put the rain fly on backwards. The tent ended up being perfect for the weekend trip.
Things to Do on the Beach
What did we do other than sleep in the tent? Well, we ended up playing in the surf, building sand castles, searching for seashells, bird watching including seagulls and pelicans, watching the ghost crabs, cooking out, eating smores (not a good idea in the heat by the way), and gazing at the stars as that is something that we can’t do back home.
After the girls went to bed, James and Megan went for a little walk on the beach with one of the lanterns and walking in the water. Megan screamed and ran when something hit her leg, leaving James behind with no light at all. This was close to one of our bucket list items, a stargazing date that we have come to so far. It was one of the most romantic evening that we have had so far since we have been together. We also watched the ghost crabs as they came out more at night than they did curing the day. They were everywhere!
We missed one of the things we wanted to do since we all slept in. The park had their last turtle release of the year Sunday morning. We woke up past sunrise but it was still a beautiful morning for Megan and James to sit back and wait for the girls to wake up while they enjoyed their coffee watching the waves. Not many people had shown up yet and it was a very quite morning. We ended up packing up to leave after the girls woke up so that we might make a few pit stops on the way home and we wouldn’t be back in Dallas way after dark.
Things That We Loved About Padre Island National Seashore
- The beach is clean for the most part.
- Everyone seems so nice at the park.
- Playing in the Gulf of Mexico
- $10.00 a week and $8.00 or $5.00 at two beaches per night, others are only the $10.00 weekly fee
- Many areas to choose from
- You can get an RV on the beach
- Showers at the Visitor Center
- Sleeping under the stars
- Waking up to a peaceful sunrise
- Park Rangers patrol the beaches
- First five miles of South Beach is hard packed and drive-able by car
Things We Didn’t Like about Padre Island National Seashore
There wasn’t much that we did not like about the Island and these will not keep us from coming again and staying for an entire week. Even more, once we have our 5th wheel, some of these will not really be an issue.
- People driving too fast down the beach highway
- James said his least favorite thing was the salt water, that it was saltier than he expected.
- The sand gets EVERYWHERE
- Park Rangers stop patrolling for a while at night, but they are on call.
- South Beach restroom is just two flush-less toilets.
- If they open the entrance gate for payments, it will take forever to get into the park where if they keep it at the visitor center, it will not be as bad.