As an avid traveler I have spent hours and hours researching and planning trips with my family. We've looked for resorts, cities, towns, beaches; you name it we've researched it. But as Spring Break 2019 approached I found myself researching a different kind of trip for me and my friends. We read through numerous blogs and travel sites looking for a cheap, fun, and exciting city to spend our spring break in. While the lists varied, one name remained a constant throughout: South Padre Island, Texas.
The pictures made it look thrilling. Large crowds waving their arms in the air while famous DJs and entertainers provided a show for the audience. The reviews and the YouTube videos all made SPI look like every college kids wildest party scene. After doing the research, it didn't take long for my friends and I to know that this was the place we were going.
March 4, 2019 we boarded our flight at Newark Airport in New Jersey. There are no direct flights to SPI so our first flight was from Newark to Houston. The flight was smooth and we landed in Houston with no issues. We had a little while to roam around the airport and get to our next boarding area. Of course, we ate at Chick-Fil-A and bought a few souvenirs, and then we were headed to Brownsville, Texas. Our one hour flight to Brownsville had about 10 people on the entire plane, which was comforting considering we were flying on one of those very tiny planes in which there are only three seats across the entire plane. The Brownsville/SPI airport is small. And once we received our luggage, it was time to take a shuttle. I have to admit, we were not very prepared for our shuttle ride. We were the only people on this packed shuttle who were coming from the airport and we weren't entirely sure where we were going either. We got off at a stop right by a Walmart in the neighboring town of Port Isabel. We knew that since we were staying in an Airbnb we needed food, snacks, and supplies to last us our few days in Texas.
After our shopping trip, we packed all our suitcases and bags into our Uber and headed over the bridge into SPI. Our driver was kind and told us all about SPI and explained that even though this was a hot college spot, there were plenty of other fun things we could do as well.
Spring Break in SPI is a month-long event spanning the entire month of March. Students from all over the country flock the beaches and bars for some fun in the sun. Our Airbnb was a perfect-sized condo off the main road. We were in walking distance from the beach, and many of the bars, and most importantly a Whataburger. Being from New Jersey this was another fast food place I had yet to try so I knew I wasn't leaving without getting a taste (it was super tasty BTW!). We settled in and then explored. SPI is a barrier island with one main road to get you from one end of the island to the other. This stretch of road is called Padre Blvd.
The beaches in SPI are beautiful and while the water was a little chilly in early March, the Gulf of Mexico had really pretty water for us to dip our toes in. While we were there performances by many famous rappers and DJs occurred. We got to see Steve Aoki in concert and even got caked! Which if you are familiar with Steve Aoki we were thrilled to be covered in green icing. Although we were upset we missed DJ Pauly D (we're from N.J. after all) we did get to see a few other concerts as well.
While it isn't uncommon to see cars driving along the main Padre Blvd, something you may not expect to see are golf carts. We rented golf carts for an hour courtesy of SPI Fun Rental & Island Surf Rental, and drove all the way down the Boulevard to SPI's famous Wyland's Whaling Wall. If you're looking for the best photo op in SPI this is it and it's definitely worth the drive! Another common method of transportation during spring break you may see in SPI are decorated vans. Who drives these vans you may ask? Christian college kids from all over the state volunteer during their spring breaks to come down to SPI and offer free rides to all spring breakers to encourage safe and responsible partying. These kids work 24/7 at all hours of the day and night responding to texts and calls of kids looking for rides. They discuss the power of prayer while they ride with you, so if you are willing to be open-minded and talk with passionate young kids about spending their spring break driving around this is a great service to keep in mind while in SPI.
One of the hottest bars in SPI includes Claytons. Claytons coins itself as the "Biggest Beach Bar in Texas" and that it is. Many concerts and parties are held here, and this is where we saw Steve Aoki perform. Another hot party spot is the Isla Grand Beach Resort. This is where many kids who buy their bracelets and passes for the week stay. The Isla Grand is know for its infamous pool party. We attended the pool party here and I can honestly say it looked like a scene out of MTV's Spring Break. You could barely move once inside the pool and the party went all night. Additionally, a fun bar we found ourselves at multiple nights during our stay was Louie's Backyard. This multi-leveled bar served delicious rum buckets and even offered karaoke.
Even though the island has fast food spots available (I.E: Whataburger, KFC, McDonald's) I can recommend some tasty eateries. Pier 19 was worth the trek we made to get there. This place has the perfect view of the SPI bridge and we even saw dolphins while we ate. One low key spot we found was a small beach-side joint where many of the SPI locals sat around to eat called Boomerang Billy's. This little joint had delicious seafood and tacos and was super close to where we were staying. For breakfast you can try out Yummie's Bistro. Beware, it does get packed quickly, but it is worth the wait!
I have to say, this trip was an absolute 11/10 experience for me. I can truthfully say that this trip was worth all the hype it gets from people who talk about South Padre Island as one of the top spring break spots in the US. It wasn't super pricy, the food was good, there were so many things to do, even if you're not super into the party scene. SPI really has it all and I look forward to the day I come back to Texas!