In Port Aransas, the sand feels softer, the seafood tastes better and the time passes just a bit slower. Located on Mustang Island in southwest Texas, this easygoing coastal town has mastered the art of the beach getaway, so you’re guaranteed to leave relaxed and rejuvenated. Bursting with pristine shores, golf courses, peaceful parks and fine dining establishments, this slice of paradise is sure to become your new favorite vacation destination.
Barrier Island Flora and Fauna
Mustang Island State Park is just a 15-minute drive south of town and encompasses 5 miles of quiet beachfront. Jump in a kayak and venture onto the park’s three-part paddling trail to explore the island’s western coast. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for unique birds, such as the roseate spoonbill and reddish egret. Head a bit further south to reach Padre Island National Seashore, the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. Spanning 130,000 acres, this area is a vivid tapestry of wind-swept dunes, coastal grasses and sparkling shoreline. You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor recreation — go off-roading at the beach, trek the Grasslands Nature Trail to see local plant life, or look through your binoculars to spot hundreds of bird species. You can even attend a sea turtle hatchling release from mid-June through August.
Angling on the Gulf of Mexico
Dubbed the “Fishing Capital of Texas,” Port Aransas gives you the chance to reel in the big one from the Gulf of Mexico’s mighty waters. Hire a charter and set off for the deep sea in search of marlin, tuna and kingfish, or dunk your line from the town’s four public piers if you prefer to keep your feet dry. The waterways around Mustang Island also boast healthy populations of redfish, flounder and trout. After a day on the water, lug your fresh catch to a local restaurant — the chefs are more than happy to cook it any way you like.
Beaches, Birds and Beyond
Get away from it all by taking a short ferry ride to the privately owned San Jose Island. It’s pretty much uninhabited, which means you’ll have endless stretches of beach all to yourself. Work on your tan, enjoy a picnic and pick up some seashells before you go. Back on Mustang Island, perfect your golf game at Palmilla Beach. The region is home to many sites on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, too. Visit the Port Aransas Nature Preserve, South Jetty and Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center to view resident and migrating birds from boardwalks and observation towers.
Island Life on a Whole Other Level
Port Aransas redefines what it means to be a charming beach town, with its luxurious amenities and vibrant community of 4,000 strong. Spend your days indulging in candle-lit dinners at waterfront restaurants, shopping at artisan boutiques and dancing until dawn at a handful of bars and nightclubs. Got a bit of free time on your hands? Farley Boat Works can help you build the boat of your dreams in a few days to a few weeks. Construct and launch your own vessel.
Port Aransas annually hosts the Harvest Moon Regatta, the longest point-to-point sailboat race in the country. Watch boats speed from Galveston to Port Aransas from excellent viewpoints such as the South Jetty and Roberts Point Park. You’re welcome to attend the Texas SandFest too, a three-day event featuring master sculptors and their sand creations. Live music, food vendors, craft stalls and sand-sculpting classes round out the experience. In the summer, sign up for the Deep Sea Roundup if you think you have what it takes to beat the best local anglers, or come in February for the Whooping Crane Festival along the Texas Coastal Bend to see rare birds in their natural habitat.
Dive Into the Past
Entrepreneurs Barney and Fred Farley came to Port Aransas in 1910 and established Farley Boat Works a few years later. The two brothers designed and built a specialty fishing boat for catching tarpon, a popular local gamefish. You can check out artifacts and memorabilia related to the Farley business at the Port Aransas Museum along with photos and original items telling the story of the island’s past. Afterward, discover where Texas sport fishing all began at the Tarpon Inn. Constructed in 1886, this historic hotel is the oldest surviving building on Mustang Island and displays a tarpon scale caught and signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Join the fun and catch some tarpon of your own.
For More Information
Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau
Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism