Your Guide to South Padre Island & More...
Est. 2012
...and more!

Kayaking




Kayaking on South Padre Island can be a relaxing way to spend the morning, day, or evening!  Whether you are fishing, bird-watching, taking photos, or simply going out for a cruise, you will enjoy the sights and sounds that the Laguna Madre has to offer! 

This page provides all the necessary information regarding kayaking on South Padre Island, Texas, including kayak trails, rentals, tips, and more.

SOUTH BAY PADDLING TRAIL


The South Bay Paddling Trail follows the shores of South Bay in a loop of about eight miles. This pristine, shallow, subtropical body of water consists of approximately 3,500 surface acres, bounded on the south by the riparian edge of the Rio Grande, on the north by the Brownsville Ship Channel and associated spoil banks, and on the east by Brazos Island. It is located in Cameron County.

Trail Description and Landmarks

Trail Length: 8 miles

Paddling Time: 2-5 hours

Due to its unique ecological features, South Bay was designated a Coastal Preserve in 1984. In addition to its extensive seagrass beds and stands of black mangroves, it also supports the only significant population of Easter Oysters south of Corpus Christi Bay. Because this is an extremely shallow bay, there is very little large boat traffic. Two interesting physical characteristics of South Bay are the “Table Top,” a very shallow flat covered by seagrass in the North West quarter of the bay, and the old Boca Chica channel that was the outlet for the Lower Laguna Madre to the Gulf before the ship channel was cut.

Safety

Because of the many oysters in South Bay, it is particularly important for paddlers to wear adequate footgear while using the area. While shallow, the presence of large numbers of shellfish alternating with sometimes silty, mucky bottoms make this bay unsuitable for wadefishing.

This is a remote paddling trail with no easy vehicle access. Take plenty of water and sunscreen. While launching on the north side of the Brownsville Ship Channel, be aware that large vessels often are moving much faster than they appear to be and have right-of-way in the channel.

Fishing

Fishing in South Bay is outstanding, with spring, summer and fall providing the greatest diversity and abundance of fish. Anglers can expect to encounter red drum, spotted seatrout and flounder here. Common snook and fat snook are routinely caught in South Bay’s shallow waters, as are jack crevalle, gray snapper and ladyfish.

Wildlife and Ecology

Due to its unique ecological features, South Bay was designated a Coastal Preserve in 1984. In addition to its extensive seagrass beds and stands of black mangroves, it also supports the only significant population of Easter Oysters south of Corpus Christi Bay. Because this is an extremely shallow bay, there is very little large boat traffic. Two interesting physical characteristics of South Bay are the “Table Top,” a very shallow flat covered by seagrass in the North West quarter of the bay, and the old Boca Chica channel that was the outlet for the Lower Laguna Madre to the Gulf before the ship channel was cut.

South Bay and its wind-tidal flats, shallow depths, associated vegetation and unique location provides excellent feeding, resting and wintering habitat for numerous types of migratory bird species, such as White Pelicans, Brown Pelicans, Cormorants, Gadwalls, Green-winged Teals and Redheads. A variety of shorebirds and wading birds may be seen year-round, and the extensive black mangrove stands are an important nesting area for roseate spoonbills.

South Bay is encircled by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge, which is known to support a population of rare Texas ocelots. Coyotes, bobcats, armadillos, raccoons and other small mammals are common on the shores of the bay.




kayaking south padre island





KAYAK RENTALS - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS


Don't own a kayak, or couldn't bring it down?  No worries!  You can easily rent a kayak for the hour or the day by contacting one of the local shops listed below.

ISLAND SURF RENTAL - OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 9 A.M. - 10 P.M.
1314 Padre Blvd.
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
956 - 761 - 9999

I.P. COMMENT:  Island Surf Rental offers a wide variety of rentals including golf carts, scooters, 3 wheel scooters, fat sand bikes, surfboards, beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, 4-6 person surreys.  You'll find them on the right-hand side past the Denny's restaurant on South Padre Island!
U.B. Captain Kayaks
5009 Padre Blvd. Suite 2
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
www.ubcaptain.com

I.P. COMMENT:  U.B. Captain makes it easy to get you out on the water!  They will deliver your kayak anywhere and pick it up once you finish.  You can't ask for a better service when renting kayaks on South Padre Island!
Parrot Eyes
5801 Padre Blvd.
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
www.parroteyesspi.com

I.P COMMENT: 
Parrot Eyes has an excellent location to launch your kayak or simply rent one from them.  You can easily access the bay from here, then grab a drink or some dinner once you finish!
SPI KAYAK
South Padre Island, Texas 78597
(956) 525-0010
www.spikayak.com


KAYAKING TIPS

1.  Carry bottle water!  Carrying plenty of bottle water will help ensure that you don't dehydrate while kayaking.  This is especially important when going long distances and/or during hot summer months.

2.  Don't forget to wear sunscreen!  Cloudy or clear, you can really burn your skin without even feeling it at first.  UV rays reflect off the water increasing your risks for sunburn.

3.  Pay close attention to the tide charts.  This is especially important if you are going a long distance and/or over shallow areas.  An outgoing tide can cause you to get stranded in certain areas.

4.  Look out for oyster beds and try to avoid them, especially during low tide.  Don't ever try getting off your kayak while over an oyster bed.  They are razor sharp and can cut through shoes quite easily.

5.  Don't forget to take a camera or binoculars!  You never know what you might encounter while going out for a paddle.







KAYAKING - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND AND SURROUNDING AREAS


HAVE A QUESTION?  ASK US?



Kayaking on the surf side in 8 - 10 ft. of crystal clear water on South Padre Island. Conditions like this happen only a handful of times a year.




Local fisherman, Gonzalo Peña from Alamar Art & Design, shows
off his nice catch off the kayak on South Padre Island, Texas.






A great spot to launch your kayak can be found on either side of the Queen Isabella Causeway on South Padre Island. 

Above, two fishermen are preparing for another day of fishing off the kayaks on the Laguna Madre Bay.







You can park your car and launch your kayak right next to the Queen Isabella Causeway.  Easy water entry and exit.  Just watch out for the oysters beds!

PUT-IN & TAKE-OUT:

Paddlers must make a short, open-water transit to reach South Bay. There is only one launch site at this time:

  • Isla Blanca Park
    Padre Boulevard, south of Queen Isabella Causeway
    South Padre Island, 956-761-5493
  • Marker 1 on the South Bay Paddling Trail may be found at
    GPS coordinates 26° 02' 55.032" N, 97° 10' 53.292" W

BASIC PADDLING TECHNIQUES

The basic step to getting started in basic paddling strokes is to hold the paddle appropriately. Paddlers’ hold over the paddle largely affects the kayaking performance. Hence, it is vital to employ the right paddling techniques for effective kayaking.

Grabbing the paddle also has to be done methodically. In order to paddle effectually, it is necessary to make sure you have a comfortable grasp over the paddle shaft. If you grab your shaft too tightly, or if you place your hands too close to each other, paddling will be a strenuous task. You should be able to hold the paddle in two easy steps.

  1. First grab the paddle with your control grip.
  2. Then lay your other hand at a distance that is a bit more than your shoulder width. To ensure if this is correct, raise your hands above your head while holding on to the paddle. If your elbows make an angle of 90 degrees, then you have correctly held the paddle.

 

The primary stroke for propelling a kayak forward with a paddle:

  1. Sit up straight. Slouching forward or backwards limits your upper body's ability to move. You can get more power by using your upper body than by using just your arms.
  2. Don't apply power to the paddle until the paddle blade is completely under the water. Don't use just the tip of the blade. If the paddle is making gurgling/bubbling noises, you are wasting effort. If you are pulling a lot of air down into the water you are also wasting your effort.
  3. Push with your upper arm at the same time you pull with your lower arm. Rotate your torso to follow the paddle. You should feel like you are pulling the boat past the paddle. You may push your upper hand across the centerline of the boat.
  4. Don't pull your lower hand past your hip. If you rotate your torso, this point may be a little farther back than if you don't rotate.
  5. Don't lift water at the end of the stroke. If you are splashing a lot, you are wasting your effort.

 

KAYAKING AT NIGHT

Paddling at night: Remember that you must carry one bright white light that can be exhibited in time to prevent a collision. It is recommended that you carry a lantern, flashlight, or other attached white light that will be visible from 360 degrees. Regulations state that canoes, kayaks, and all other manually driven vessels shall exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, and shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.

SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL VESSELS



Operating Vessels without Required Equipment is Prohibited
- No person may operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not provided with the required safety equipment. An operator may not permit a person under the age of 13 to be on board the vessel while the vessel is underway if the person is not wearing a USCG approved wearable PFD. Marine enforcement officers regularly perform vessel safety checks to ensure the safety of boat owners and passengers.

All Vessels

Lifesaving Devices

  • All Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) must be U.S. Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition, readily accessible, and of the appropriate size for intended user. See Life Jackets for more details on PFD types.
  • All children under 13 years of age in or on vessels under 26 feet in length must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while underway. Underway means not at anchor, made fast to the shore, or aground.
  • All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board. A Type V PFD is acceptable only if used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label of the device.
  • Vessels 16 feet and longer, excluding canoes and kayaks, are required to be equipped with one Type IV throwable PFD in addition to the Type I, II, III, or V PFD required for each person on board.
  • Inflatable PFDs are authorized only when used in accordance with requirements as presented on U.S. Coast Guard approval labels. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use on personal watercraft, waterskiing, or other high speed activity.

Sound Producing Devices

  • Any vessel less than 12 meters in length (39.4 ft.) is required to carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound to signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility.
  • Vessels 12 meters or more in length are required to carry a whistle or horn, and a bell.

Lights Required

All vessels including motorboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, rubber rafts, or other vessels when not at dock must have and exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise in all weather and during restricted visibility.

Navigation Lights

Power Driven Vessels Underway: Power driven vessels of less than 20 meters (65.6 ft.) but more than 12 meters (39.4 ft.) shall exhibit navigation lights as shown in Figure 1. Vessels of less than 12 meters in length, shall show the lights in either Figure 1 or Figure 2.

Manually Driven Vessels when Paddled, Poled, Oared or Windblown

  • A sailing vessel of less than 20 meters (65.6 ft.), while underway shall exhibit sidelights and a sternlight which may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen.
  • A sailing vessel of less than 7 meters (23 ft.) shall, if practicable, exhibit the sidelights and a sternlight, or shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.
  • All other manually driven vessels may exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, or shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock. In vessels of less than 12 meters (39.4 feet), white lights shall be visible at a distance of at least two (2) miles. Colored lights shall be visible at a distance of at least one (1) mile. "Visible" when applied to lights, means visible on dark nights with clear atmosphere.