I spent three days in South Padre, TX to do some kiting and have some fun in mid April of 2012. So this little review is written from the perspective of a kiter and not meant as a travel guide. SPI is basically a big sand bar island. The island is broken up into a developed area with all the amenities you would expect in a tourist town. The part is the open sand dunes and flats. A single bridge separates the island from the mainland and can get backed up for hours during peak times like spring break but traffic was minor when we were down there.
We had good food for the most part but when you are out in the sun all day learning to kite pretty much anything would be good. I had blackened chicken pasta that was great at a place called Daddy’s. Most of our crew ate seafood and said it was good too. Try the fried gator. We had burritos everyday from a convenience store called Stripes. We ate them on the beach everyday and made for a tasty sustenance. I had a burger and fries at Dirty Al’s that was pretty good. The SPI Brewing company was ok but nothing notable.
There is a CVS on the island which was needed by a few guys in our group for minor bodily repairs.
There are a couple kitboard shops – Air Padre and SPI. Shorts, t-shirts and the like can be found in one of the many tourist shops along the main road through town. You can’t miss them.
Speaking of roads, the island isn’t very wide so it would be pretty tough to get lost. There are really only two roads that go north and south.
Now for the reason to go to SPI, the beach. On the gulf side the beach runs all the way north and south. Little public access points separate the rows of houses and hotels that line the beach. Just park and walk in. You could kite from anywhere you feel comfortable.
A saltwater lagoon separates the mainland from the West side of the island. The south end is developed but the north end is pretty much wide open. We were using large beeches and flats which are privately owned and require a permit to be accessed. These permits are relatively inexpensive and can be picked up at a few locations. Check with the kiteboard shops mentioned earlier to get them.
Once you drive through the gates the sand dunes bordering the road give way to the flats. This is a big flat area of sand that barely rises above the water. The area is affected by the tides so keep that in mind when parking. The amenities out there consist of a couple porta potties and a few sun shelters. No garbage or food so if you want something you better bring it with you and plan to take it back out.
The slight grade continues well out into the lagoon. I didn’t find a spot more than four feet deep. You can walk out a long way. The bottom can be slick near the water’s edge so be careful. A little ways out it can get mucky. There are things like rays and jelly fish so look out for those too.
From a kiting perspective this was a great area since the water is warm and shallow enough to walk from anywhere if needed. Don’t think you are going to go swimming though. Take note of the rules of the beach posted in the shelters. They will explain the buoys you will see out in the water which mark the launching and landing only areas. There are some rules of engagement between the kiters and wind surfers as well – really, just stay away from each others areas.