Padre Island National Seashore | BEACHES

Malaquite Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

Malaquite Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

There are three beaches at Padre Island National Seashore on the Gulf of Mexico: North Beach, Closed Beach, and South Beach. Swimming is allowed anywhere on these beaches, but there are no lifeguards at any time of the year.

North Beach is a 1-mile stretch of beach at the north end of the park, while South Beach is a 60-mile beach on the south end. Driving is allowed on these beaches. In between is the 4.5-mile Closed Beach, aptly named because it is closed to vehicular traffic. Gates at either end keep vehicles from entering. The easiest access point is at the Malaquite Visitor Center (the beach in front of the building is called Malaquite Beach). You can also access it from the Malaquite Campground if you are camping there.

If you are not convinced that humans are ruining this planet, you will be after a day on the beaches at Padre Island, particularly if you choose South Beach as your destination. The Yucatan and Loop currents converge near the island, and as a result, much of the trash that ends up in the Gulf of Mexico washes up on the beach. Plastic bottles, fishing nets, buckets, toys, hard hats, buoys…you name it, you’ll find it. There’s stuff on the beach that even my nautical-oriented friend could not identify. Some items are so large that at high tide they can actually block the beach and prevent vehicles from traveling farther. Malaquite Beach is kept clean since it is right in front of the visitor center, and North Beach is fairly clean since at only a mile long, volunteer trash collectors can manage it. However, at 60 miles long, keeping South Beach free of trash is an effort in futility. You might as well be sunbathing at the local dump.

Nautical trash on South Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

Nautical trash on South Beach at Padre Island National Seashore

You can also access the Laguna Madre (bay side of the island) at two points within Padre Island National Seashore: Bird Island Basin and Yarborough Pass. However, neither of these are sandy beaches, and only Bird Island Basin has an accessible shoreline (i. e. not covered with tall grass). Other than a few barren spots, the shoreline at Yarborough Pass is lined with tall grass. You must also travel 15 miles down South Beach, and you need a 4-Wheel-Drive vehicle because the road that connects the beach and the lagoon is partially covered in deep, soft beach sand. Anyone can get to Bird Island Basin.

Laguna Madre shoreline at Bird Island Basin, Padre Island National Seashore

Laguna Madre shoreline at Bird Island Basin, Padre Island National Seashore

Laguna Madre shoreline at Yarborough Pass, Padre Island National Seashore

Laguna Madre shoreline at Yarborough Pass, Padre Island National Seashore

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Last updated on February 27, 2022
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