The weather had just started to warm up when we arrived on Padre Island after our stay in Austin. A lot of our campfire chat had been about how to pull a 30’, 8,700 lb Airstream onto a beach. We were definitely afraid we were going to get stuck.
As we drove on the island, the further down we got the businesses were no longer and we were surrounded by tall grass with dunes on either side of us.
We were headed to GPS coordinates, so we found the closest access rode. At the end, we drove around the corner and it just opened up to powdery sand and gorgeous blue ocean.
Before we just gunned it onto the beach, we took a look at whether it would be possible to walk down to the other Airstreams we were meeting. It was way too far. Then we looked for another camper so we could get a last minute pep talk. No luck. Instead we asked the advice of the woman with the Corolla that wasn’t parked on the beach. She was our only hope.
“People just seem to build up speed on the road so the momentum pushes them through the soft stuff down to the harder sand by the water.” she said.
Works for us! So, I grabbed the kids and the camera while Mark shifted into 4L and hit the sand. It worked! It was magic. It was one of those moments where we knew THIS is why we are doing this. Our house is on the beach. OUR HOUSE IS ON THE BEACH!
We found our spot near Living is the Adventure and the RV Legends while we waited for Adv-O-DnA to show up.
When we first planned our trip, we never thought we would unhitch. Can you even do that in sand? What if the tide comes in? Well, we checked the tide chart and parked far enough away. So yes, you can and should unhitch. It was no big deal at all.
The first evening, we just spent in awe of the beauty. It was incredibly serene. Oh, and did we mention it’s free to camp there? You may stay 56 days a year in 14 day increments. How rad is that?
The next morning we opened the shade and witnessed a spectacular sunrise over the ocean. We set out our large mat, put out our chairs, pulled out the awnings and swore we would never leave. San Antonio was next, but why would we want to do that? This was free and gorgeous!
We soon realized we hadn’t totally planned for parking in the sand. Our Airstream has carpet, and our vacuum requires more electricity than we were willing to spare while boondocking. Especially while two of our four solar panels remained in the back of the truck.
We ran out to the store that morning and picked up a new welcome mat from walmart, new sand toys for the kids from Target and a bunch of food from the H-E-B Plus.
Driving on and off the beach without the trailer was a little less nerve-wracking. It is very similar to driving in the snow and as born and bred New Englanders, we are well-versed snopocalypse travelers.
Pretty soon into our stay we were experiencing power issues. Dave let us borrow his extra solar panels, but we knew it was time to install our two extra panels.
If you need to do manual labor, you may as well do it on the beach as pelicans fly over!
As if being on the beach isn’t enough, there are a lot of activities to keep you occupied throughout the day. You will pass Horses on the Beach as you drive in. Think you may want to try it? Just do it. It’s around $45 for an hour and is an incredible experience. Riding on the sand, splashing in the waves, it’s just amazing. The program is very well-run and the horses are taken care of and very loved. You can also pet some of the other farm animals, just watch out for the goat.
It's absolutely better with friends. I may have felt weird if there weren’t a bunch of us there. We had a campfire every night and the kids played together every day. They all earned their Junior Ranger badges together as well.
The visitors center is beyond the gates of the national seashore. It’s $10 for a 7 day pass. From there you can go to one of the primitive camping spots for only $5 or $8 a night. There is also a dump station and potable water.
There are a lot of volunteers at the visitors center and it always seemed that someone was giving a talk on sea turtles or trash cleanup on the beach.
We would advise going to the visitors center on day one so you learn some important information. Like, that that disintegrating yellow wire is actually coral and helps to keep the dunes in place.
Or that people aren’t just coming to Padre Island and dumping trash, that the trash is coming from all over the world and due to the currents and it gets washed up there.
So, definitely don’t go in the dunes. No only are you messing them up, but that’s where the rattlesnakes live. Speaking of dangerous wildlife, don’t leave any food out. There are raccoons and coyotes on the island as well.
You will also need to watch out for the Portuguese Man O’ War. They sure are pretty, but DO NOT TOUCH! Their tentacles can sting you even when they are dead. They showed up the day before we left, so we had to keep the kids out of the water and away from the shore.
Another thing you need to be cognizant of the fact that the beach is considered a state highway. The speed limit is 15 mph and you will have trucks whizzing up and down the beach at all hours.
By the time we left the beach our water heater wasn't firing up, our thermostat was dead and everything we owned was covered in salt and sand. I can't wait to do it again.