Mother Lagoon | Exploring the North End of South Padre Island

When you’re traveling, it’s uncommon to be surrounded by gift shops, restaurants, and all the usual vacation trimmings, only to find yourself on an otherworldly, natural landscape less than a 10-minute drive away.

You might see a heavy loader clearing the sand from the road as you travel State Park Road 100 north on South Padre Island, a hazy mirage appearing on the sun lit road to nowhere. There are sand dunes on either side, with brief flashes of the ocean to the east, shrouded in mystery. What is this place?

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The north end of the island is undeniably otherworldly – the sandy beach along the ocean extends for miles after the road ends, creating a wild area of beach bonfires, off roading, surf breaks, and peaceful reflection. Climb the dunes, held together with sea grass and offering a brief challenge. The view at the top is boundless. There’s no entrance fee, no hours, no parking fee to this stark land, and it’s freeing in a world that’s normally so structured, so plain. Out here, it’s just you, the ocean, and the landscape.

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Look inland and the Laguna Madre greets you with its own treasures and tidal flats reaching toward the water. Just one of six hypersaline (saltier than the ocean) lagoons in the world, the National Park Service calls the Laguna Madre one of the most overlooked natural wonders in North America. It is protected along more than 70 percent of its shoreline in the form of the Padre Island National Seashore, and the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. It is home to many protected species of birds, fish, vegetation, and natural features. Fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing are all popular endeavors, with world class kite boarding to be found at the South Padre Island Kite Boarding Ranch. Favorable winds year-round drive athletes across the shallow bay for nature-powered thrills.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .

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