Bury your toes in the sand and surf of Port Aransas, the only town on 18-mile Mustang Island. Although locals may refer to it as “Mayberry on the Beach,” the island is very much alive despite its leisurely pace. Known as the fishing capital of Texas, the region also offers exceptional surfing, birding and nature adventures.
This boaters’ paradise is surrounded by several bodies of water: the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi Bay, Lydia Ann Ship Channel and Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Beaches along this barrier island create a perfect union of warm Gulf waters and silky Texas sand.
A rented street-legal golf cart makes for effortless exploring. Colorful history, from the Karankawa tribe to the Spanish explorers who imported wild mustangs, to pirate Jean Lafitte, unfolds at the Port Aransas Museum. A thriving arts community converges around Port Aransas Art Center and resident artists’ studios. Items from Coquina Dance Jewelry are inspired by nature, often incorporating sand and seashells from area beaches.
Nearly two dozen restaurants scatter the island. Come evening, drop in for a pint and a pie along with music at The Gaff Bar, a favorite local hangout. The Gaff is the birthplace of the Texas Belt Sander Races held on Saturdays in season.
Port Aransas’ annual events attract international visitors. The Whooping Crane Festival celebrates the return of the endangered birds to their winter habitat in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the only place cranes in the wild can be viewed at close range. Texas SandFest is a national sand sculpture competition, and during the Harvest Moon Regatta, sailboats race from Galveston to end in “Port A” under the brilliant October moon.
WHERE TO DOCK
Island Moorings Yacht Club & Marina
New floating docks that accommdate up to 100 feet are available for one night or longer. Facilities include ship’s store, fuel docks, pool and bathhouse.
Dennis Dryer Municipal Harbor
This city-operated marina is linked with Roberts Point Park and offers both short-term and long-term slip rentals, as well as eight boat ramps. Enjoy amenities including a captain’s lounge, fish-cleaning station and showers for slip holders.
WHERE TO DINE
The diverse menu ranges from steaks, sushi and island-inspired dishes to your day’s catch prepared as you like. Your sea legs will feel right at home under a full bar replicating the transom of a sportfishing boat.
Rollin’ Tide Boil Co.
Leave your flip-flops on the sand while the on-site provider of Low Country boils rolls its pot to your spot for a private seafood dinner on the beach, a bonfire and a blazing sunset.
Venetian Hot Plate
Authentic cuisine — as good as you can get 10,000 miles from Italy — is served in a quaint atmosphere.