Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining


Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Making Every Day a Dawn Destinations Getaway #MyDawnSummer

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Dawn. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, as always all opinions are 100% mine
 Dawn Destinations New Zealand

After returning home from a fun and super relaxing beach vacation last week, getting back into the daily grind seemed a little more than…..well, underwhelming. I really was wishing for just 100 1 more day before we were torn away from the smell of salt water and the crashing sounds of ocean waves. I missed watching the tide roll in and feeling sand between my toes while we looked for shells. I was so pitiful my husband started teasing  me even saying he thought I may have developed post-vacation depression.

This summer was going to be a long one if I didn’t find a way to snap out of it- and soon!  I decided to find some simple ways to make each day of summer a little bit more like our relaxing vacation. Challenge accepted! First stop on our tour, we’re off to the kitchen to tackle Mt. Dishmore.

Dawn-Ultra-237x550  Dawn-ultra-dish-soap-244x550 Dawn-Destinations-241x550

Making Every Day a Dawn Destinations Getaway

Setting up my “at-home-vacation-workstation” was my first task. Near the sink, I placed one of my favorite beach vacation pictures, a little sand and a few shells from our trip, and a bottle of Dawn Destinations. We always use Dawn on our dishes because of its powerful grease cutting  ability. I was happy to see Dawn Destinations delivered the same grease-cleaning  results I expected in new relaxing scents.

Dawn grease cutting power

The pleasant scent of Dawn New Zealand Springs reminded me of the clear fresh vacation waters I had been missing. Even though I was doing dishes in my own kitchen, I found myself  a bit more calm and relaxed. (I may also have benefited from the lack of “Mooom, I’mmm bored” that pause when chores are being done.)

The moral of this story? Remember to breathe deep. Seek out simple, everyday moments to stay balanced and centered,  even if it is escaping at the sink with the exotic scents of Dawn Destinations.

Before I knew it the dishes were done and I was ready to relax and rest for night.

Since I tend to carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and neck, a warm aromatherapy pillow on these muscles before bed really helps them to relax and I sleep much more soundly.  This is a simple and inexpensive DIY project you can make for yourself or someone else as a gift.

Dawn Destinations DIY AROMATHERAPY Pillow

You will need:

  • A tube sock
  • A mini sewing kit
  • 8-10 oz of dry rice
  • Lavender oil


  1. Fill the tube sock with the dry rice so that is about two-thirds to three-quarters full
  2. Add 15-20 drops of lavender oil
  3. Carefully sew the sock shut so that the rice does not fall out
  4. Microwave and apply as needed to help relieve neck and shoulder tension

Ready to experience Dawn Destinations for yourself??

One of my lucky readers will win a Dawn Destinations Gift pack to create a relaxing “getaway” in their own home! Enter below and make sure to follow Dawn on Facebook and Twitter for the latest products and news!

“Simplify Your Summer with Dawn Destinations” Giveaway includes:

  • A Bottle of Dawn Destinations
  • $25 iTunes gift card (for spa music)
  • A sock
  • Aromatherapy neck and shoulder pillow recipe/how-to
  • Lavender oil
  • Rice

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our Disney Vacation Planning Party #DisneySide


We have been dreaming & talking about taking a Disney family vacation for-ever. Disneyland was one of the only big vacations my family took together during my childhood and I remember it being simply magical. I don’t really know why we’ve put off our own Disney vacation -pregnancy, then waiting until the kids were potty trained, then the saving up maybe… we’ve always just been talking about it. Our Disney vacation was on the bucket list as a “one day” kind of thing. Recently, I received and awesome package on my doorstep from Disney Parks & Mom Select, encouraging me to show my #DisneySide! I took it as a sign that it was time for this family to stop dreaming and start planning!

disney side box

This package arrived full of Disney awesomeness to help me plan the perfect event to get everyone excited about our trip. You can read all about everything that was included here. I decided I would surprise my family with a Disney Vacation Planning Party.

I picked a Friday afternoon for their surprise. Our big kids have no extracurricular activities on Fridays, my husband was getting off early that day and I hadn’t said a word to the littles ( who are always ready for weekend fun!). Earlier in the day, I invited several of our friends who are Disney vacation experts to join and help us plan and give us their best vacation planning tips. WOW! Their advice and suggestions were invaluable. It was so much fun decorating and prepping Disney snacks for everyone. They had no idea I was planning this for them. I love seeing their faces light up as they walked in. They all grabbed their party mouse ears and wore them the entire party.  I can’t wait for my family to get their real mouse ears during our Disney Vacation!!

Disney Family

What’s a #DisneySide @ Home celebration without Disney snacks? Our Kids Mom did a fantastic tutorial on making Mickey & Minnie cupcakes with Oreo’s a few weeks ago that I knew would be perfect for our celebration. I made the cupcakes and got all the Oreos ready for everyone to assemble. I even crafted bows from washi tape for Minnie Mouse bows.

Disney CupcakesDisneySide Cupcakes

Didn’t they turn out cute??!! The best part was getting to make them together. I just made the cupcakes ahead of time and gave the “assembly instructions”. So Easy! We also had Mickey shaped mini pizzas by using a cookie cutter. Disney Party Foods

One of the best things about waiting until our kids were a little older to plan is that they are able to be an active participants of what all we decide to see and do on our vacation. Since there are so many travel options with Disney  I planned to introduce them to these options in some really fun ways. We played a Disney Bingo game where the bingo cards were made up of different Disney characters, parks and resorts.

DisneySide Bingo

We also watched a Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD together for a little movie time. Needless to say EVERYONE was ready to leave for our  vacation right then.

Disney DVD

We always have a ton of luggage to bring with us when we vacation and since we don’t yet know whether we will be driving or flying we decided to make this part of our party planning too. American Tourister is the official luggage of Disneyland & DisneyWorld. They were gracious enough to send us an awesome bag to pack in.

#DisneySide Collage

This bag was designed so lightweight and functional that even our youngest wouldn’t have trouble wheeling it through an airport. If we do decide to take a magical roadtrip, we could easily fit 6 of these in our mini-van and still have room. If you are a frequent traveler I highly recommend this bag. We made a little game of “What would you pack in your Disney suitcase?”  Some of the suggestions were hysterical.

We had such a good time together and really planning for our trip! I cannot wait to share our vacation update with you later this year.

What are your best tips to have a great Disney vacation? Want to throw your own party to show your #DisneySide? Check out DisneySideCelebrations.com  to get started!

 I received free products from MomSelect and Disney Parks with which to host a party.  As always, my opinions are my own.