Canoeing and Kayaking
South Bay Paddling Trail follows the shores of South Bay in a loop of about eight miles. This pristine, shallow, subtropical body of water consists of approximately 3,500 surface acres, bounded on the south by the riparian edge of the Rio Grande, on the north by the Brownsville Ship Channel and associated spoil banks, and on the east by Brazos Island. It is located in Cameron County.
Put-in and Take-out:
Paddlers must make a short, open-water transit to reach South Bay. There is only one launch site at this time:
Isla Blanca Park
Padre Boulevard, south of Queen Isabella Causeway
South Padre Island, 956-761-5493
Marker 1 on the South Bay Paddling Trail may be found at
GPS coordinates 26° 02' 55.032" N, 97° 10' 53.292" W
Trail Length: 8 miles
Paddling Time: 2-5 hours
Due to its unique ecological features, South Bay was designated a Coastal Preserve in 1984. In addition to its extensive seagrass beds and stands of black mangroves, it also supports the only significant population of Easter Oysters south of Corpus Christi Bay. Because this is an extremely shallow bay, there is very little large boat traffic. Two interesting physical characteristics of South Bay are the “Table Top,” a very shallow flat covered by seagrass in the North West quarter of the bay, and the old Boca Chica channel that was the outlet for the Lower Laguna Madre to the Gulf before the ship channel was cut.
South Bay is encircled by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge, which is known to support a population of rare Texas ocelots. Coyotes, bobcats, armadillos, raccoons and other small mammals are common on the shores of the bay.
Jaime J. Zapata Memorial Boat Ramp
Suggested Seasons to visit: All Seasons Site open for day use only. Continue west on TX 100 to the intersection with TX 48. Go south on TX 48 to Brownsville, passing an extensive area of tidal flats and lomas. Lomas are clay mounds that rise above the surrounding tidal flats and are covered with native Tamaulipan brush, including the locally common Spanish Dagger Yucca. These lomas are a favored habitat of the Ocelot, a federally-listed endangered cat, found in the U.S. only in south Texas. The tidal flats are often covered with shorebirds such as the Reddish Egret. Watch for Aplomado Falcons perched atop the yuccas along this scenic drive.
Rentals & Shuttles
Air Padre - 5709A Padre Blvd, South Padre - (956) 299-9463 - http://www.airpadrekiteboarding.com/
South Padre Island Water Sports, LLC - 5709 A Padre Blvd. - South Padre Island TX 78597 - 956-299-9463
Island Surf Rental
Open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. - 1314 Padre Blvd. - South Padre Island, Texas 78597
956 - 761 – 9999 - Island Surf Rental offers a wide variety of rentals including kayaks, golf carts, scooters, 3- wheel scooters, fat sand bikes, surfboards, beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, 4-6 person surreys. You'll find them on the right-hand side past the Denny's restaurant on South Padre Island!
Parrot Eyes - 5801 Padre Blvd. - South Padre Island, Texas 78597 - www.parroteyesspi.com
Parrot Eyes has an excellent location to launch your kayak or simply rent one from them. You can easily access the bay from here, then grab a drink or some dinner once you finish!
For more on SPI Kayaking please visit http://www.infopadre.com/Kayaking.html
Kayaking and Canoeing on the Rio Grande
Anzalduas County Park and Dam - 6400 Anzalduas Dam Rd, Mission,- (956) 585-5311 - Open Daily http://www.missiontexas.net/attractions/anzalduas-county-park
Chimney Park RV Resort. 4224 S. Conway Mission, (956) 585-5061 - chimneyparkresort.com – Access is $5 dollars.
Kayaking and Canoeing at the Park
Fireman’s Park. 201 N 1st St. McAllen - 956) 681-3333 - Sat-Sun: 2:00 pm - 8:00 pm – Kayak and Canoe rentals. http://www.mcallenparks.net