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Risky Fun at Padre Island


Have you ever thought you would like to have a real adventure with a measure of risk, but not too much. Just enough risk to make you think later, did I do that? Something that is not death defying, but could be if you do not pay attention to detail and be aware of your surroundings? And finally, something that is not expensive and is close enough to make it possible to do in a period of one week.


Then I recommend a fishing and camping trip to the lower part of the Padre Island National Seashore. This is not a glamping trip. You will be staying on the beach, in the sand dunes, with no amenities. No water, no facilities, no electricity, and for the most part no people. This is not the place to meet new friends.


Most people have heard of Padre Island. But most people have not heard what is at the lower part of Padre Island. The area of sand that lies between Corpus Christi and Brownsville. In that section of seashore there is nothing. Nothing but sand dunes and more sand dunes and the only access is by four-wheel drive.


From where you enter the beach access from Park Road at the ranger station on Padre Island, it is 60 miles of open beach to the opening of the Laguna Madre to the Gulf of Mexico at a point called "the cut". That is as far as you can drive on the beach, and there is no way to cross over to the mainland unless you go back to the ranger station from where you came. That is the reason this area of real estate is so remote. Unless you have a boat, there is one way in and one way out.


However, that 60 miles of deserted beach sand can be a real adventure if you are up for it. It is not for the faint of heart and it is not just a camping and fishing trip. It will require some preparation and planning to make it a fun trip and avoid any unexpected difficulties.


After you have rented your 4-wheel drive ( it is recommended that you do not use your own), take South Padre Island Drive (SPID) out to and over the causeway bridge to Padre Island. On the way, if you have not brought them, you will need provisions, shelter and your fun equipment, fishing gear etc. There are many places to shop along the way.

Why do you want to rent a 4-wheel drive? First it is required after you leave the ranger station. Second, you will be driving on beach sand dunes and in the surf and the salt water will make your personal vehicle a rust heap in a short time.


Have you decided how long you want to stay? A week? Before you decide, 3 days may seem like a week when you get there. However, that can depend on how much water and food you take. If you run out of either, your decision is made for you. Depending on the time of year will also determine your requirements for provisions. The winter is damp and cold and the summer hot and humid. You will need a tent, sleeping bags, water, cooler chest for ice, food, stove if you desire, layer clothing, and of course your fishing gear.


The drive down the beach, depending how far you want to venture will be something to remember. There is no road, you will drive on the beach, and then you may have to drive in the dunes, and you may also have to drive in the surf. If you decide to drive, 10 or 20 or 30 miles down the beach, you will pass many opportunities to go off the beach and drive in behind the dunes. There you will find complete solitude. A great place to set up camp.


Scout around and you can find driftwood to use for a campfire at night. Night is real night. Dark. No noise, no lights and, no people. The beach and the surf are only a few feet way. And here is where the risky fun comes into play. You are alone.


Twice a day the coast guard helicopter flies down the beach, but that is all. You may occasionally see others like you but that is rare. That question is always in your mind, are they like you or do they have other nefarious reasons for being so far from civilization? The sound reasoning is to be as inconspicuous as you can be and do not try to make friends. After all you are there to get away from everything.


Do a little research before you go and plan your trip. When you are there you will need to live with your decisions. The fishing is great and you can eat what you caught. That is the great part of the trip. Baths of course are in the Gulf of Mexico. You will have great memories and something to talk about that few people have experienced.


Now for the disclaimer.

I have done this. It has been a few years, but with my friend Leo we did it. We were sitting in a bar in northeastern Ohio in the dead of winter, March to be exact, and decided to book a flight to Corpus Christi the following week. I had lived there and all my belongings including camping gear were in storage for the past 4 years. We boarded the plane, flew down and did what I am describing above.

I cannot tell you what it is like today, but I am sure that it is not much different. I would suggest with the changes in world events, you will want to check it out first. My final word, if you have the grit, do it. You will have great memories!


Jack Wilson

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