Padre Island National Seashore

Corpus Christi Area

The 60 southern miles of 'North' Padre Island that lie beyond Corpus Christi city limits are protected within the Padre Island National Seashore. Endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles nest in the park and are closely safeguarded. Visit in late summer, and you might be able to take part in a turtle release.

The constant wind not only creates and moves dunes, it also attracts kite- and windsurfers to the inland-facing Bird Island Basin area. There you can rent kayaks, windsurfing gear and stand-up paddleboards from Worldwinds.

It takes 4WD to explore the full extent of the park, but hike even a short way from the visitor center and you'll escape the crowds. Camping is available at the semideveloped Malaquite ($14) and Bird Island Basin ($8) campgrounds, or go primitive – beach camping elsewhere is free, with a permit.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Corpus Christi Area attractions

1. Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve

13.45 MILES

Overlooking Oso Bay, this city-run nature reserve of 162 acres has 4 miles of trails to wander. The surrounding wetlands are a haven for birdlife, and…

2. Mustang Island State Park

14.58 MILES

This well-equipped park covers 4000 acres and has 5.5 miles of beach. It is popular with surfers, but given the normally calm nature of the gulf you may…

3. L Head

22.12 MILES

This is the least exciting of the three main piers for visitors, but the views back towards downtown are nice.

4. Lawrence St T-Head

22.29 MILES

Home to a view, a few chain restaurants and the luckless Niña Ship Replica.

5. Texas Surf Museum

22.44 MILES

Once a small display area tucked inside Surf Club Records, this museum has now taken over completely with a range of displays on the history of surfing in…

6. Peoples St T-Head

22.5 MILES

The busy fleet of shipping boats that dock here, along with the various restaurants and activities that have set up shop on the jetty, make this the most…

7. Selena Memorial & Statue

22.53 MILES

The life-sized statue of late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971–95) still draws an estimated 30,000 well-wishers every year more than two…

8. K Space Contemporary

22.67 MILES

This small space hosts contemporary-art exhibitions, which rotate every four to six weeks, with a penchant for emerging artists. The often-provocative…