The pristine shoreline of the Padre Islands

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A destination full of sun, sea, and sand, Corpus Christi is also the gateway to the serenity of unspoiled nature on North Padre Island’s National Seashore. The 66-mile-long stretch of North Padre Island’s protected coastline is easily accessible from the city and offers a peaceful, remote space to disconnect and get back in tune with nature. This distinctive barrier island remains undeveloped, allowing you the rare privilege of seeing vast stretches of nothing but sand and waves.

Surround yourself with wildlife

Padre Island is renowned for birdwatching.

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As a coastal prairie habitat, the Padre Island National Seashore is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including coyotes, deer, jack rabbits, ghost crabs, and more than 380 species of birds. The diversity makes the island a top-notch spot for birdwatching and earned Corpus Christi the status of “Birdiest City” in the nation for upwards of a decade. The National Audubon Society also declared the Laguna Madre, a shallow lagoon located within Bird Island Basin, one of the most important bodies of water in the nation for birding. Get a little closer to the critters of this special island with a stroll along the .75-mile long Grasslands Nature Trail that takes you inland by the sand dunes and grasslands.

This federally protected space of over 130,000 acres is also important for hosting various endangered species including the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. These mild-mannered creatures climb up on shore to lay eggs every spring, and by June, their tiny turtle hatchlings slowly emerge and crawl out toward the water, which is where the park rangers of Padre Island step in to help. If you’re visiting the island between mid-June to August, the sea turtle hatchling release is an experience not to be missed.

Baby turtles

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Spend a night on the beach

If a day of hanging out among the island’s unique flora and fauna isn’t enough, why not spend the night? This national park offers visitors the option to camp out in a tent or RV right on the beach. And because of its distance from the lights of the city, you’ll be sleeping under a stunning display of stars. Take note that South Beach and the North End Observatory by the Malaquite Beach Visitors Center offer magnificent opportunities for stargazing.

Go play in Bird Island Basin

In fact, Bird Island Basin, a recreational area on the island, hosts a campground for tents and RV campers with chemical toilets (for flush toilets and cold water showers, head over to the Malaquite Pavilion Bathhouse). The Bird Island Basin camping area is a birder’s paradise and is a very popular spot for fishing and boating with the only boat ramp access to Laguna Madre.

Seek out the salty waters of Laguna Madre

A windsurfer’s paradise

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You might say that Laguna Madre Bay is the star of the island, with a reputation for being the best flat water sailing site in the country. Windsurfing doesn’t get better than this. But as attractive as this site is for water sports enthusiasts, it also happens to be famous for its status as one of six “hypersaline” lagoons in the world—making it one of the saltiest bodies of water on earth.

The lagoon is also home to various crustaceans and seagrasses, as well as Canadian geese, mallard ducks, and 80 percent of North America’s redhead ducks who all migrate here for the winter. And if you’re seeking true relaxation, bathing in salt water is known to have a plethora of health benefits.

Go for an island ride

While a long stroll down the island can do wonders for the soul, driving is the only way to fully explore this very long stretch of quiet beaches. Especially on windier days, watching the waves from the comfort of your vehicle might be a good choice. There’s only one section that’s off-limits to drivers, appropriately named Closed Beach. For a completely car-free day out on the island, spend time on Malaquite Beach, part of Closed Beach where no cars are allowed on the sand.

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