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AN IDEAL ALTERNATIVE - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND
 
(2013 - Spring/Summer Issue)

Writer: JOHN AND SANDRA NOWLAN



For Betty Moulton of Edmonton, South Padre Island is her preferred southern U.S. destination. 

We met her on board the USS Lexington, the world’s oldest remaining aircraft carrier. It’s now a major tourist attraction in Corpus Christi, a thriving port city of 300,000.

“My husband and I used to go to Mexico,” she told us, “but now we’re delighted to park ourselves in south Texas. The people are extremely friendly, it’s very affordable and the weather and beaches are fantastic.”

Corpus Christi is well worth a short visit. Near Lexington Avenue are the Texas State Aquarium, the Art Museum of South Texas and the Museum of Science and History. The latter, which specializes in marine archaeology, is where you’ll find full-size replicas of the Christopher Columbus ships, Pinta and Santa Maria. A Nina replica is berthed at the Corpus Christi marina.

Northern Attractions

A long causeway connects Corpus Christi to Padre Island and its endless beaches. This narrow band of sand extends almost 200 kilometres south to the popular resort community of South Padre Island and the border of Mexico. The smooth sand is firm enough to handle vehicles so many drive along the beach (24 kph limit) or park by the surf to fish or picnic.

We visited the small resort community of Port Aransas, which prides itself on having no big-box stores or McDonald’s. Instead, the town of 3,400 offers relaxation, good seafood restaurants and excellent fishing and birding opportunities.

The Tropical End

Leaving Corpus Christi we drove inland on pencil-straight Route 77 to the southernmost part of Texas, its “tropical tip,” and the pleasures of South Padre Island.

Happily handling 60,000 to 100,000 plus visitors on holidays and some busy summer weekends, this small hospitality-oriented city normally has 5,000 permanent residents. One of the enjoyable highlights of our visit was cruising the Laguna Madre Bay on the Southern Wave catamaran. The craft glides up the bay side of the island as a talented singer rolls out clever ballads and passengers feast on fresh grilled shrimp and Mexican fajitas.

On the mainland near South Padre, Harlingen, Texas, a community of 75,000, with a small hometown feel, boasts the original Iwo Jima Memorial. Downtown is alive with large, colourful murals, including one honouring Bill Haley (of Rock Around the Clock fame) who died in Harlingen after spending much of his life in the city. An old-fashioned soda shop downtown showcases Bill Haley and the Comets memorabilia.

In Harlingen we met John and Lucy Morey of Port Dover, Ontario, another pair of “Winter Texans” who remarked that more and more Canadians arrive every year. “We tried other locations,” John Morey told us, “but here in Texas people are just much more friendly and the cost of living is much less.” He noted he could play a round of golf for $12 and buy wine or beer for less than half the price in Ontario. “We have friends here from all 10 provinces,” Lucy Morey said. With a laugh she added, “Actually, Canadians are taking over.”

Travel Planner

For more information, visit sopadre.com.

 
 
 
 
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