Looking for a vacation rental on Padre Island? Padre Island is a tropical paradise that almost everyone knows as a popular spring break destination, but the sunny barrier island off the coast of Texas offers a lot more than just a haven for boozing college carousers. There are some wonderful vacation rentals on Padre Island that are ideal for a family vacation or a romantic getaway.

Despite the bad rap, Padre Island is a favorite with families and beachgoers of all ages who want perfect weather, pristine beaches, snorkeling, surfing, jet-skiing, kiteboarding, deep-sea fishing, windsurfing, sunbathing and building sandcastles. What you plan to do on Padre Island will largely determine where you’ll want to stay. For the most part, South Padre Island is where you’ll find the largest and most diverse collection of vacation rental lodging. To the north is more than 30 miles of undeveloped shoreline where you can find your own secluded beach.

Padre Island Vacation Rentals

Padre Island is the world’s largest barrier island, stretching from Corpus Christi in the north to the resort community of South Padre Island to the south. It is known for its beautiful sandy beaches. Padre Island is the second-largest island by area in the contiguous United States, second only to Long Island in New York.

Padre Island is about 113 miles long and 1.8 miles wide and bordered by Laguna Madre on the west and the Gulf of Mexico in the east. The northern end connects to Mustang Island by roadway. The southern end is separated from Brazos Island by the Brazos Santiago Pass. South Padre Island, the town, is on the southern end of Padre Island, while the city of Corpus Christi sits at the northern end. The middle part is preserved and protected, so there are two distinct parts, what’s referred to as North Padre Island and what’s called South Padre Island.

Types of Vacation Rentals in Padre Island

There are all kinds of vacation rentals on, or near, Padre Island. Mostly, you will find either condominiums or private homes. Condominiums typically have up to four bedrooms, but there are some larger units available to rent. For private homes, most have at least two bedrooms but can be a lot larger, up to seven bedrooms or more. Largely, you’ll find private homes in the vacation rental market that will usually have between two and five bedrooms.

Both condominiums and single-family homes that are vacation rentals will come fully furnished and with a full kitchen. Basically, just like any residence you’ve ever lived in, except probably nicer. Vacation rentals often have nicer elements to stand out from the rest of the rentals. When you’re looking for vacation rentals in Padre Island, be sure to check the amenities that are offered. Many residences come with master bedroom suites, improved bathrooms, a media room or den, a patio or deck space, and even a private hot tub or a heated pool.

As with anything, there are a few general rules that apply to vacation rentals in Padre Island. First, beachfront residences or properties with immediate ocean access are going to command premium prices and be very desirable. Everyone wants to be as close to the beach as possible! Second, larger and nicer condominiums are going to cost more, but they’re also going to be harder to find as your vacation draws near. It’s always best to make your reservations early so you can enjoy the largest selection of available units. Naturally, the nice ones go first, so either you’re the early bird, or you’re not.

Lastly, most vacation rentals are going to have a minimum-night stay requirement, meaning you’ll need to stay at least a certain number of days. It depends on the time of year you plan on coming to Padre Island. During key points of the year, like the week from Christmas to New Year’s, where the minimum stay might be a week or longer. Most of the year, it’s only a few days. It’s always important to check the minimum stay requirements when you’re planning your dream vacay.

Getting Around Padre Island

Another thing to consider when planning your vacation is how you’ll get around. South Padre Island is about a day’s drive from most of the bigger cities in Texas. Austin and Houston are about six hours away, and Dallas is an eight-hour drive. If you fly into Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) or Valley International Airport (HRL), you’ll need to arrange transportation from there to your accommodations. Both airports are more than 30 miles from South Padre Island. McAllen International Airport (MFE) is about 80 miles away.

This means you’re probably going to be renting a car or taking a taxi or rideshare. If you’re renting a car, you’ll need to consider parking arrangements at your residence. If you rent a vacation rental with a garage or a dedicated parking space, you’re all set. Otherwise, you may need to arrange a parking permit or make other plans to park your vehicle. There is a pretty good public transportation system around the island.

At about 2 square miles, it’s easy to walk around South Padre Island. If you can make it there, you won’t need a car. A free local shuttle runs the length of the town and across the lagoon to Port Isabel and the lighthouse.

When to Visit Padre Island

There really isn’t a bad time to visit Padre Island. The weather along the Texas Gulf Coast is mostly hot and humid, with highs around 90 degrees during the summer months. The weather is tempered by breezes that come in from both sides of the island. In the late summer, rain and the threat of hurricanes come in September and October, and temperatures are still very pleasant.

The winters are short and mild, and the temperature is about 65 degrees for most of the “cold” months. Padre Island is a great place to escape to during December or January for a little sun and fun. But South Padre Island gets about 300 days of sunshine annually, so bad days are few and far between.

Padre Island’s Best Activities & Things to Do

When you come to Padre Island, it’s easy to just sit on the spotless beaches and enjoy the sunshine and tropical ambiance. But there are some cool sights to see while you’re here. Make time to see these attractions while you’re on Padre Island:

Walk the Sand Sculpture Trail

Enjoy about 30 professionally crafted sandcastle sculptures around the island, in varying designs. You can get a map at the visitors’ bureau and take the tour yourself, or schedule a fun lesson with a local sand artist.

Play with Turtles at Sea Turtle Inc.

There are sea turtles on the beaches of South Padre Island from time to time, and the hatchling release is a key point every summer. Sea Turtle Inc. is a rehab and education center that has tours and presentations on sea turtles that are informative and fun.

Walk on the Laguna Madre Nature Trail

The island’s flora and fauna are something to behold. Take the 1,500-foot boardwalk nature trail and see waterfowl, songbirds and shorebirds. It’s a walkable trail with lots to take in along the way. The Laguna Madre Nature Trail is popular with birders who want to check a few species off their list.

Spend the Day at Isla Blanca Park

The park is a local favorite for dolphin watching, boating, and fishing, and it’s also home to an entertaining beachfront amusement park. There’s an epic statue of Christ the Fisherman (El Christo de lo Pescadores), which is a tribute to fishermen that have been lost at sea.