These Texas Islands are a Nature Lover’s Paradise

Port Aransas is Texas’ greatest coastal paradise. With more than 18 miles of sandy beaches, hundreds of species of birds, and uber-easy access to world-class fishing, it’s the ultimate Gulf escape from city life. Port A, as locals call it, and San José Island—just a short boat ride away—are teeming with opportunities for nature lovers to explore the outdoors. Here are just a few can’t-miss activities you’ll need to add to your itinerary.

Go Fish

Port Aransas is the fishing capital of Texas, and it’s not hard to see why. Deep sea fishing charters here can set you up to catch marlin, barracuda, grouper, mackerel, mahi mahi, and more. But you don’t have to venture far, or pay much, to land a good catch. It costs $7 to drop a line at Horace Caldwell Pier, where you might hook a flounder, redfish, black drum, or trout. Even better, there are at least a dozen restaurants in Port Aransas that will cook your catch to perfection, so you can enjoy well-earned fine dining—and know exactly where your meal came from. 

Spot Elusive Birds

Port Aransas and Mustang Island are in the Central Flyway, and host six sites along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Here, you’ll find hundreds of species of birds, including quite a few that are special to the area. Port Aransas Nature Preserve has a handy checklist for avid birders, including the Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, and Buff-bellied Hummingbird, which you might spot around town where residents have set up feeders. In late February, the annual Whooping Crane Festival will welcome back its population for winter. 

Hike or Paddle the Distance

The Port Aransas area has a plethora of nature preserve sites protecting diverse ecosystems on the coast and throughout the islands. You’ll want to take plenty of time to visit them all so you can wait patiently to see who might show up. If you’re lucky, you might spot alligators at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve or Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Get closer to coastal birds by taking a kayak on the 20-mile Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail, or unwind with a free yoga class at the Port Aransas Nature Preserve. 

(Para)Sail Away

Looking for more of an adrenaline rush before you head home? The sparkling waters of Port Aransas are even prettier from the sky. Book a parasailing adventure with Chute ’em Up to get a bird’s eye view of the island, and keep your eyes peeled for marine life—you might just spot a dolphin from the sky. Heights not your thing, but still want the adrenaline rush? Try your balance surfing, kiteboarding, or windsurfing, or for a real speed rush, rent a jet ski to zip through some waves.

Whether you’re planning for a birdwatching or sea fishing weekend or a few weeks of coastal rest and relaxation, you’ll have no trouble finding plenty to do in Port Aransas. The slower the better—this is one natural paradise that’s worth sticking around for.

Port Aransas may only be a short drive from home, but you will feel a world away once you take that first breath of salty sea air. Stroll along birding paths, cast a line in the fishing capital of Texas, or soak up the sun on our 18 miles of uninterrupted beachline. This spring, escape to an island getaway and see why generations of families have anchored their traditions in Port A.

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