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Spotlight: Port Aransas

Make a splash in a Texas island paradise

Bring your fishing rod, beach chair and thirst for adventure to Port Aransas, nestled on Mustang Island off the coast of Corpus Christi. This town is the ultimate Gulf Coast destination, bustling with quaint shops and fantastic restaurants along with lots of opportunities for adventure on the inviting Gulf waters and inlets.

Hit the Water

Fishing at Port A—as the locals call it—is one of the biggest draws to the barrier island. Charter a boat or launch your own into the surf and head out into the Gulf to chase redfish, pompano and amberjack. From the safety of the wharf, you can enjoy a sunrise catch while taking in the oceanside scenery.

Prefer riding to reeling? The waves that break off the shores of Mustang Island are big enough to ride, and if you’re a seasoned surfer you’ll be more than satisfied at Horace Caldwell Pier. Sandbars are the secret to the great waves, swift enough to give veterans a workout and safe enough to entice beginners. Catch a private lesson from a local, or dive in and hang ten on your own.

If surfing or angling doesn’t satisfy your need for an adrenaline rush, check out the parasailing and paragliding opportunities available around Port A. Further down the island, you can paddle through 20 miles of shallow spots to enjoy fishing and bird-watching along the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail.

Slow things down a bit with a ferry ride out to San Jose Island. This 21-mile stretch of sandy, undeveloped paradise is a shell-hunter’s dream. Dig your toes in and build a sandcastle or two; the ferry only runs a few times each day, so pack enough snacks, water and sunscreen for a few hours.

Port Aransas beach scene.

Gloria Bell

Land-based Recreation

While most small towns might offer a sandwich shop or fast-food chain spot, Port Aransas caters to guests who travel from all around the world. Take the opportunity to enjoy fine dining at any one of several great spots, many of which take advantage of the island location to create unforgettable seafood dishes. Save room for dessert, which you’ll find at Winton’s Candies. The handmade caramel and taffy treats are a delight for just about anyone.

Bicycling the beach is a great way to spend an afternoon in Port Aransas. Wheel yourself down to Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. The preserve houses just over three miles of trails for biking and hiking, and its proximity to the birding center means you’re likely to see some of the preserve’s feathered residents.

Paradise Pond is a wheelchair-accessible park with boardwalks and viewing areas, as well as a sitting area near the entrance of the 2-acre habitat that lets guests enjoy butterflies and dragonflies among the flowers that draw in the beautiful insects.

Bird-lovers are in luck because Mustang Island is home to the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. Visitors can stroll the boardwalk and climb the 25-foot observation tower to sneak a peek at dozens of migratory species, including roseate spoonbills, black crowned night herons and more. Free guided tours are available.

Floating Past History

Get to know the story behind Port Aransas during a visit to the Port Aransas Museum. Rotating exhibits shed light on the region’s involvement in the Civil War, the maritime industry and fishing industry. Nearby, Farley Boat Works introduces visitors to the skill and craft of boat building.

The story and science of the sea are the focus of a museum at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Explore the institute’s Visitor Center, Estuary Explorium, Wetlands Education Center and Bay Education Center to learn about marine life and its varied habitats, many of which are found and studied around Mustang Island and Port Aransas.

Discover history via kayak on the Lighthouse Lakes Trail close to nearby Aransas Pass. Amidst the redfish, mullet and birds, you’ll catch a glimpse of the 68-foot tall Lydia Ann Lighthouse, activated in 1862.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Aransas Entertainment

Spend a night out and catch a performance or two at Third Coast Theater, where singer-songwriters entertain guests in this cozy, 150-seat theater situated on the property of a resort community. On a quiet morning, take in a round of golf at the only seaside golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, the Palmilla Beach Golf Club.

Despite its small size, Port Aransas offers a wealth of shopping opportunities. Spend a little cash and come home with treasures from local shops featuring gifts, apparel and artwork from local craftsmen. Port Aransas Community Theater entertains audiences with performances throughout the year.

End the day by taking in a sunset around the island on a chartered boat ride. You may even catch a glimpse of playful dolphins.

For More Information

Port Aransas Chamber of Commerce
800-45-COAST
www.portaransas.org
Texas State Travel Guide
800-452-9292
www.traveltex.com