Port Aransas Texas
Welcome to Port Aransas, an island getaway for beach, sun and family fun! Nestled between the dunes of Mustang Island and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, its picturesque shoreline is the perfect place to meander among the seashell, frolic in the waves, bask beneath the sun, and relax in the gentle breezes. Mustang Island’s nature-related sites abound, offering optimum opportunities for birding, kayaking, fishing, surfing and swimming. Reflecting a unique laid back attitude, the intimate coastal community of Port Aransas brims with eclectic boutiques, shops and galleries, charming cafes, exceptional restaurants and lodging, ranging from clean and comfortable to upscale and luxurious. Escape to Port Aransas to experience family fun ~ Island Style!
Where We’ve Been
Mustang Island’s beginnings included wild horses, Indians, Spanish explorers, pirates, and eventually, settlers to this primitive barrier island. Undergoing numerous changes, the once sleepy fishing village of Port Aransas continues its progression into one of the most popular coastal destinations in Texas. Affectionately referred to as “Port A”, the term ‘extended family’ has formed new meaning as locals eagerly anticipate the return of visitors throughout the year.
Natural Points of Interest
• Great Texas Birding Trail Sites
• Wetlands Park
• Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center – Novices to experts can discover new species every Wednesday at 9 am, during “Birding on the Boardwalk,” a guided tour free to the public.
• Joan & Scott Holt Paradise Pond – this fresh water pond is a migratory haven.
• Port Aransas Nature Preserve – our newest nature lovers paradise with hike and bike trails and boardwalks to view a variety of species.
• South Jetty – Granite jetties form the pathway to the Gulf of Mexico.
• Lydia Ann Lighthouse – Privately owned and operated, this structure holds important historical significance. In existence since the 1800’s, it is the only lighthouse on the Texas Gulf Coast with 24-hour caretakers. Visitors may view it from water only.
• Kayak Trails
• Mustang Island State Park
• St. Jo’s Island – A privately owned island across the ship channel, offers excellent beachcombing and surf fishing.
• Spoil Islands in the bays and waterways surrounding the island offer fantastic birding and wildlife viewing opportunities from the channel only (Shamrock Island, Hog Island, Dagger Island, etc.).
• UTMSI Wetlands Education Center – This educational esource sits on a 3.5 acre salt marsh surrounded by sheltering dunes where visitors will discover the importance of wetlands to both nature and man. The site offers an extensive boardwalk system and several observation platforms for viewing migratory waterfowl and resident marsh birds. Weekly, free, guided tours will expand your knowledge of our eco system located at UTMSI.
Port Aransas is located on the northern tip of Mustang Island. Take your choice of two ways to access the island. From Corpus Christi, the island is linked by the JFK Causeway making a direct line to SH 361 and Port A. Alternately, take the ‘scenic route.’ The free ferry system brings visitors to the island across the Corpus Christi Ship Channel via car ferries, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The beaches of Mustang Island are fantastically unique. There are eighteen miles of uninterrupted public shoreline, open for vehicles and all things beachy! It includes the Horace Caldwell Pier, open 24/7 extending from the beach into the Gulf of Mexico. Pets are welcome, but they must remain leashed at all times. A parking permit for a minimal fee is required.
Things to do
• Experience salt water fishing at its optimum – from deep sea or surf to bays & channels to lighted piers
• Visit the local art galleries
• Ride the trolley
• Rent a variety of other transportation modes to cruise the Island
• Visit the University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Visitor Center where self-guided tours and educational movies are among the attractions offered.
• Play volleyball, shuffle board or picnic at Robert’s Point Park or the Community Park
• Hunt for seashells or build sandcastles
• View dolphins & ships as they glide through the ship channel
• Buy one-of-a-kind gifts, clothing and home décor with a coastal flair
• Swim, surf & kiteboard in the waves
• Enjoy local theatrics at the Port Aransas Community Theatre
• Go kayaking
• Golf - Play a round of golf at the Arnold Palmer signaturelinks course
Dining & Shopping
Whether you are craving a meal complete with succulent shrimp or a gallery brimming with inspiring works of art, Port Aransas will whet your appetite!
Fresh seafood, served in more ways than you can imagine, can be ordered from restaurants scattered throughout the city. Savor your own ‘catch of the day’ or others fresh from the docks, such as grouper, yellow fin tuna, amberjack, mahi-mahi and wahoo. Whatever your choice, fabulous coastal cuisine prepared to order will satisfy even the most discriminating palette.
Numerous unique shops, galleries and boutiques promise to quench your sense of sight, touch and sound. Island treasures for home décor, fashion statements, and gifts from the heart bring lasting memories of Mustang Island.
Port A is Port Artsy - The art community is alive and well in Port Aransas and ready to show you their work. Choose from numerous settings to view works of island art, ranging from casual home studios to the more sophisticated galleries and even fabulously artistic interior decorators. The Port Aransas Art Center is a local hub for artists young and old and is host to numerous year round activities.
During your stay
Go fish! Known as the ‘Fishing Capital of Texas,’ Port Aransas boasts the best in all areas of the sport. Deep-sea fishing is BIG in the waters of this small city. Offshore excursions ranging from 6 – 56 hours depart from Port Aransas docks. Zealous anglers aboard local charters and party boats frequently bring in record-breaking fish! Bay fishing is also outstanding in the waterways surrounding Mustang Island, where limits of redfish, flounder, black drum and trout are commonplace. Take your pick of numerous experienced guides, or go it alone; tonight’s dinner is just a few casts away! Those who prefer to keep their feet on dry ground can also enjoy the sport of fishing from area lighted piers, accessible 24-hours a day.
• Horace Caldwell Pier
• Charlie’s Pasture Fishing Pier
• J.P. Luby Pier
• Ancel Brundrett Pier
Kids and adults delight when bottlenose dolphins make their appearance beside watercraft traveling through the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Excursions from area docks offer the opportunity to marvel at the grace of these mammals that populate the waters surrounding Mustang Island.
Bird enthusiasts have ample opportunities to view and interact with our fine feathered friends in Port Aransas. In the heart of the Central Flyway, hundreds of species of permanent residents and thousands of migrating birds consider it the perfect rest stop. With five sites on the Great Texas Birding Trail, Mustang Island serves as an optimum spot for bird watching. Natural wetlands, inlets and 18 miles of beach and dunes, rock jetties, piers and boats offer dozens of perfect vantage points to view the birds that call Port Aransas and Mustang Island home.
True Port Aransas talent is set to entertain the entire family at the Port Aransas Community Theatre (PACT) on SH 361. Take in a performance, where quality productions often portray everyday life on the island. Sunset Sounds concerts are held the second Friday of each month, April thru October, and feature the talent of local/area musicians.
One of Port Aransas’ newest attractions, Newport Dunes Golf Club, is the only ocean side golf course along the Gulf of Mexico. This Arnold Palmer signature-links designed course is a challenge for even the most expert golfer with the steady gulf breeze, strategically arranged fairways, fast and true greens, deep stacked-walled bunkers, and native coastal grasses waiting to catch missed shots.
Early Island Lifestyles
One of two catalog houses that came to Port Aransas via barge somewhere around 1913 or 1915, Port Aransas Museum features exhibits that showcase early island living to the present. The new Farley Boat Works is making history of its own by providing folks the opportunity to learn traditional boat building skills and what helped put Port Aransas on the map at the same time.
Port Aransas offers a large variety of accommodations. Whether you prefer a cozy cottage, conventional motel room, luxury condominium, or the privacy of your own beach house, the island offers a myriad of choices. In addition, there are numerous campgrounds and RV parks for those who prefer to sleep under the stars. Visit our website at www.portaransas.org for complete listings of places to stay on Mustang Island. You’re sure to find one that fits your lifestyle.
Whooping Crane Festival
Annually the last weekend of February During the fall migration, tight-knit family units of Whooping Cranes make an astounding 2,400-mile journey from Canada’s Northwest Territories to the Texas Coastal Bend. Their final destination is located on Aransas Bay at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge where they enjoy temperate climate and an abundant food source.
Join the festivities each year, the last weekend in February as we celebrate our area’s distinguished privilege as winter hosts to these amazing giants. Activities and events include lectures and workshops by world-renowned experts in ornithology and wildlife, guided boat trips to the Refuge for an up close and personal look at the whoopers in their natural habitat, guided bus tours to the fantastic birding sites on Mustang Island and other favorite area sites, narrated boat tours of the waterways and spoil islands for optimum birding and photo opportunities, and a first rate nature related trade show. Visit the whooping crane website at www.whoopingcranefestival.org for more detailed information.
Annually in April Celebrating Texas’ official Sand Sculpting Festival for the past sixteen years, SandFest has become one of the biggest beach festivals in the state! It is one of five qualifying contests for The World Championship of Sand Sculpture. (All proceeds benefit local non-profit organizations.) World-class Master sculptors as well as amateurs compete throughout the weekend. Additional free activities and programs include vendor tents filled with jewelry, art, and food, games for the kids, sand sculpting lessons; music, entertainment; photo contest & more. The 2013 SandFest is slated for April 26-28, 2013. Plan to attend this incredible family-style event on the shores of Mustang Island and prepare to be amazed!
Harvest Moon Regatta
Annually in October Fall’s harvest moon means cool winter breezes and a slower pace for Mustang Island. Its appearance also brings the expectation of the popular Harvest Moon Regatta. As the carrot colored orb rises above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, wind driven vessels of all classes are slicing through the waves on the annual 150-mile offshore regatta from League City. The regatta will occur October 18-20, 2013.
Our Newest Nature Venue
Port Aransas Nature Preserve The Port Aransas Nature Preserve offers nature lovers another option to enjoy the great outdoors in Port Aransas. Located just off the ferry landing along the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, the 1,217 acre preserve encompasses over 3 miles of hike and bike trails, a pavilion, boardwalks over algalflats, crushed granite trails on the uplands, covered seating sites and two towers overlooking wetland areas around Salt Island. There are two entrances to the Nature Preserve: the end of Port Street and off State Highway 361, near Mustang Beach Airport.
For more information on accommodations, events and everything Port Aransas log on to: www.portaransas.org or call 1-800-45-COAST