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  • Padre Island National Seashore, TX

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    Padre Island NS is located a few miles southeast of Corpus Christi and extends as a barrier island about 75 miles southward. There are two designated camping areas: Bird Island Basin and Malaquite Beach. Neither has hookups and both are first-come, first-served. Camping is also allowed on the beach.


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    As you enter Malaquite Campground, the first thing you see is the self-pay station and just beyond it, the beach.

    Date of visit: Feb 2012

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    The camping facilities at Padre Island NS are strictly first-come, first-served. We arrived before noon on a Tuesday and there were about five sites available, all in the back row. Sites are along a road that runs parallel to the beach, so half the sites have the beach just a short distance to their rear, while the other half look across the road to the beach. Naturally the sites on the ocean side of the road are the more popular. We ended up on site 41 on the far side of the road, but we still had a pretty good view of the beach.

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    We got rather lucky. Our first afternoon here I got to chatting with the fellow across from us and he mentioned that he was leaving the next morning. When he pulled out, we zipped across the road and got a great front-row site, 32. We had paid for only one night, so making the move was easy.

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    Sites 1-18 are on the back side of the road to the north of the pay-station.

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    On the ocean side north of the pay station are sites 19-30. The park has rather liberal generator hours, from 6 AM to 10 PM, which seems a bit much to me. I'd rather see 8 AM to 8 PM, for there were folks who ran them right up to the last minute.....or even about 15 minutes beyond one night, and several had to run them first thing in the morning, probably to make their coffee. They need to learn how to make it on the stove-top.

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    At each end of the campground are three tent-only sites.

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    Sites 31 to 37 are on the ocean side of the camp road south of the pay station.

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    Opposite them are sites 38-42.

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    There are clean bathrooms and showers. The only drawback - no hot water.

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    The beach stretches on for miles. Here you can see the campground to the left; it's a very short walk to the beach.

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    Fishing is a popular past-time here. The herons hang-out hoping for a handout.

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    A short walk (about .8 of a mile) from the campground is the Visitors Center and Store. There are some interesting exhibits about Padre Island and a couple of film visitors can watch. The store sells a few things: ice, soft drinks, T-shirts and hats

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    Among the exhibits is this Kemp's ridley sea turtle. The females return to Padre Island each year to lay their eggs. An endangered species, these turtles are making a come-back, thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service in guarding the eggs and helping the hatchlings make it into the Gulf.

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    A couple of miles north of Malaquite Beach Campground is Bird Island Basin. Camping is also available here in what amounts to a parking area along the shore. Bird Island Basin is on the sound-side of the island and thus does not have the waves that are present on the Gulf side.

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    The only amenity here is a vault toilet. Water and a dump station are available a few miles south at Malaquite Beach CG.

    Malaquite Beach Campground

    48 sites (6 tent-only), no hookups

    Drinking water, cold showers, dump station available

    Verizon Extended Network service (antenna & amp required)

    Rates: $8 (50% discount with Golden Age Pass)

    Coord: 34.63785 N, 86.01553 W

    Bird Island Basin

    20 sites, no hookups, vault toilets, water & dump available at Malaquite Beach

    $5/day or $10/year (50% discount with Golden Age Pass)

    Coordinates: 27.467339 N, 97.313462 W

    Beach camping free, but permit required

    Activities/Nearby Attractions