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Unique tips on an SPI experience

Arlington TX
Level Contributor
19 posts
89 reviews
Unique tips on an SPI experience

This isn't a question but rather a tip for all you guys interested in visiting SPI. 1) If you're a beach bum, get a tent or a small or RV or van and camp out literally on the beach! Go to either of the Public access points 3-6, pay the $12 daily fee and camp out. SPI beaches are meant to be driven on by be careful about getting the soft sand kicked up into your motor area. Speed limit is 5 or less. Busy times will literally be foot on the brakes for 2 miles. The further down you go, the less traffic, vendors, etc. 6 is the most remote and provides an otherworldly beach experience suitable for a yogi. 3 is right next to the portable johns, vendors and entrance. Camping at SPI north beaches is a professional past-time so come prepared. Just go down and pay the daily fee and you can stay as long as you like. $2 of the $12 comes with a trashbag: fill it, turn it in daily and get your $2 back! In case that's not worth the drive down to the entrance, just dispose of it in the many metal trashcans along the beach. 2) all beaches remain open to the public and cannot be closed off by hotels, property owners, etc. HOWEVER, public accesses are free and occur from the center to the south part of the island. BEACH accesses occur from the center to the north of the island and cost $12. Parking in the center of the island and south of the island is extremely hard to come by. Park your car and take the FREE Wave shuttle everywhere. Buses are either yellow or yellow and blue. They're free, clean, fast, cold a/c and come around every 30 minutes. They go all over the island and they're wonderful. They're paid for by TX taxpayer $, of which I am one of them, and I am so glad to see the funds going towards something useful. 3) Avoid the cheap, overpriced, kitchy stores on the main blvds. There are 3 resale shops on the island (one of which benefits the ONLY animal rescue group on the island) to get your condo supplies, beach towels, shirts, etc that you need when you're here. Visitors leave all kinds of barely used stuff behind and it goes right back to the community for resale. Trickery is the name of the game with the shops on the blvd. Signs that say "nothing over 9.99" is a total lie and they're not at all ashamed to try to cover it up. As soon as you walk in, it's 12.99 this, 17.99 that, 24.99 that over there. Signs that says "towels 2.99" are definitely towels that are 2.99.....they're dish towels. It's all cruel joke. Resale shops are definitely the better way to go and are environmentally friendly. 4) Island Adventure Park is overrated. Schlitterbahn is nice but much smaller than it is marketed. Most cruises are cheap because they go nowhere outside the shallow muddy laguna. 5) If you're interested in nature and not kitch, SPI is the way to go. Birds, sea turtles, best shelling, etc. All free or nearly free. The island is immaculately maintained and beautiful in unusual ways. 6) support local businesses, food trucks, vendors, servers, etc. Yes, there's a McDs and Whataburger if you're so inclined but the local food trucks are amazing. There's one that sells freshly squeezed lemonade and freshly shaved repasados.....for $5! Local workers, businesses, vendors, food trucks, etc give SPI a unique flair and they only get to work about 5 months out of the year. Let's make it count. 6) DO NOT GET INJURED OR SERIOUSLY ILL WHILE AT SPI. There is NO emergency care, urgent care or other facility for 35 miles around! The nearest facility is Valley Medical Center in Brownsville, a 40 minute drive. EMS and 911 won't do anything for you except drive you right up to Brownsville and I hear the cost is over $2000. 7) Do not feed wildlife, birds or feral TNR cats. Let them exist in their niche in nature so that we can enjoy them that way. Do not drive on the dunes. Beach only. It is illegal and you will go to jail. 8) If you're Jewish, there's a beautiful marble synagogue in the center of the island. 9) A short drive over the causeway to Port Isabel yields a Walmart that specializes in small quantities of island supplies and food. The prices are still inexpensive but they're smaller sizes of goods. 10) there appears to be no recycling on the island. I winced every time I threw something away that was recyclable. 11) SPI is dog friendly but no pooping on the beach or the dunes. Grass only; pick it up and throw it away when you're done. 12) It IS still TX. And we love our guns and you will see the occasional person open-carrying. I can guarantee you they're not the bad guys and they're licensed, trained and willing to put their lives on the line if a robbery, active shooter or other violent situation places them in that situation. Most people conceal-carry so y'all can breathe easier. Lastly....feel free to ask me a question about anything SPI and I'd be glad to answer it, no matter how small. Enjoy your trip!

65 replies to this topic
fairfax
Level Contributor
265 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Hi, We are planning a trip for 2 months to SPI. Do you know anything about Sea Vista condo's, they are located near the water park. Also I've heard it's windy there in the winter is this true and how bad is it. Thanks

Arlington TX
Level Contributor
19 posts
89 reviews
2. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Im not familiar with staying inside those condos but I do know the area. It is the busiest area of the island on the south end. Both in heavy traffic and in crowded beaches. If it's really close to the water park, there may be sound carrying the squeals of kids constantly. The further north you go, the less crowded and clean the beach gets. I recommend this listing for a condo to check if within your budget and timeframe. We've stayed in it before and it was beyond amazing. https://www.vrbo.com/65194

Arlington TX
Level Contributor
19 posts
89 reviews
3. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

oh and as for the wind, I wouldn't say it's windy in the sense of the word. yes there is an amazing, clean ocean breeze moving about the beach and ocean, which is exactly the type of atmosphere that is so relaxing. I would say gentle to pleasant is about right and is not any windier than any other beach we've ever been to and the occasional wind that comes with a brief storm doesn't really count. It is not dead still air like some central American countries but it isn't as windy as Grand Cayman.

Texas
Level Contributor
37 posts
4. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Wow! Love your spirit of helpfulness, @futurelawyer2005! We are headed out there the week of August 8th for the first time. We'll have two of our four boys with us (12 and 17). Trying to figure out budget-friendly places to stay and things to do. Glad to know where to go on the beach to avoid crowds somewhat. We're a pretty low-key family! 😊

Level Contributor
21 posts
5. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

thank you'

we are doing our first vacation there end of September

looking forward to seeing what it is all about

Chipping Norton...
Level Contributor
386 posts
150 reviews
6. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Gosh, what a great comment and loads of information. We are two retired ladies coming in October who aren't actually BEACH BABES ... and wondered where we pick up the Wave Shuttle? Or, are there any craft markets OR theatres that have plays and so forth and so on? Thank you.

Arlington TX
Level Contributor
19 posts
89 reviews
7. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Well you can catch the Wave literally anywhere on both blvds! Gulf and Padre. There is a sidewalk running the entire blvd between where the cars park and the street. You stand anywhere on that sidewalk and "wave" when you see one coming and they stop and pick you up and take you wherever you need to go! Free of charge! Of course there are periodically "wave stops", similar to a bus stop, where you can sit and get out of the sun, and they'll see you and stop to get you. As for theaters, Im not sure I know of one. There might be but I don't know that there is. As for craft markets, there are periodic events put on but mostly they're just a few times a year. The best place to look for one on the schedule is the south padre island tourist website. There's a huge list of events.

Edited: 21 August 2016, 03:36
Chipping Norton...
Level Contributor
386 posts
150 reviews
8. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

Thank you for all your help.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
25 posts
1 review
9. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

We're in the NYC area and I'm thinking of coming to SPI for the first time w my family (husband, and kids ages 2.5 & 6.5) in late December in an effort to avoid the Caribbean & FL due to Zika and mosquito spraying in general and maybe have an outside the box, nature filled vacation instead of just a beach resort vacation. A few questions: 1) any words of wisdom on the spraying etc? 2) know anything about the condos at the Sapphire? I'm looking into those as well as a home on vrbo.com but I'm thinking the amenities of the hotel might be nice (like spa, possibility of more easily getting a crib for my little one). 3) how is the weather in mid to late December (generally speaking)? Any advice you have would be great as I feel like I'm in very uncharted territory in planning this vacation. Thanks!

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
25 posts
1 review
10. Re: Unique tips on an SPI experience

We're in the NYC area and I'm thinking of coming to SPI for the first time w my family (husband, and kids ages 2.5 & 6.5) in late December in an effort to avoid the Caribbean & FL due to Zika and mosquito spraying in general and maybe have an outside the box, nature filled vacation instead of just a beach resort vacation. A few questions: 1) any words of wisdom on the spraying etc? 2) know anything about the condos at the Sapphire? I'm looking into those as well as a home on vrbo.com but I'm thinking the amenities of the hotel might be nice (like spa, possibility of more easily getting a crib for my little one). 3) how is the weather in mid to late December (generally speaking)? Any advice you have would be great as I feel like I'm in very uncharted territory in planning this vacation. Thanks!

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