South Padre Island Travel Guide


#1 in Best Beaches in Texas

Find Prices

U.S. News has ranked more than 5,000 hotels across the world. Find the best hotel for your vacation.

Getting Around South Padre Island

The best way to get around South Padre Island is on foot, especially since the area clocks in at a measly 2 square miles in size (much of which is shoreline). There is also a free public shuttle, the Wave, which runs the length of the town and across Laguna Madre to Port Isabel. However, if you're interested in visiting some of the other outlying communities, you may want to rent a car. Getting into town from the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport (BRO) — located about 25 miles southwest — can seem daunting, but you can make the trip without having to worry about overspending. Island Airport Shuttles pick up at the BRO airport and can take you as far as Port Isabel where you can catch the Wave. Visitors can also fly into Valley International Airport (VIA) in Harlingen — about 40 miles west of South Padre — and catch the South Padre Shuttle to the island (one-way fares cost $25 per passenger; round-trip is $40). Car rentals are also available. 

On Foot South Padre is very walkable because of its small size and grid layout. You'll have no trouble finding beaches, restaurants and entertainment within walking distance. 

There is a free public bus service called the Wave, which operates daily every 30 minutes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. There are two different buses: One that runs the length of South Padre Island and another that crosses the Laguna Madre into Port Isabel. There is also a shuttle service — the RioGulf Express — that operates a route between Port Isabel and Brownsville South Padre Island Airport. One-way fares cost up to $2 per person.

Car If you wish to spend a day or two exploring nearby towns like Corpus Christi or Brownsville, a car may come in handy. Car rentals are available at the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport.

Explore More of South Padre Island

Find Rental Cars