Port Aransas - A Village For All Seasons
Interested in quiet, quaint and utterly relaxing? If you’re familiar with Port Aransas or “Port A,” as the locals call it, you know the rest of the story . . . if not, then head on down the road and experience nature at its finest. Located on the northern tip of Mustang Island, an 18-mile barrier island across from Corpus Christi, Port Aransas is the quintessential
fishing village known for its beaches and excellent fishing. While you may get to Port Aransas via the road from North Padre Island, the most scenic and enjoyable way is by ferry, which operates 24-hours-a-day. Scenery and wildlife
abound during the short ferry ride. A common sight are the dolphins which frolic playfully in and out of the waters of the ship channel. Also the gliding and diving of the pelicans and the seagulls provide entertainment during the ride.
With easy access to the deep blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Port A, as the locals call it, is the undisputed headquarters for deep sea fishing along the central Texas Coast. Fishing is such big business that the granddaddy of all Gulf Coast fishing tournaments, the Deep Sea Roundup, has been held there for more than 70 years. In addition, party boats that hold up to 100 fishermen dock at several of the Port Aransas Marinas, providing a low-cost offshore fishing alternative to the private charter boats.
Miles and miles of beaches attract thousand of visitors to Port Aransas year-round. The 18 miles of beach are relatively uncrowded, offering visitors the choice of mingling in the summertime beach crowds closer to town or picking a private spot down the beach. While the beach and summertime seem to go together, the beach in winter has an appeal all its own. This is when shelling and beachcombing are the very best. Prized sand dollars, the huge Atlantic cockle or the showy moonsnail are abundant in the winter, when temperatures are likely to be in the 60s or 70s.
Birdwatching for many years was taken for granted in Port Aransas, but now the pastime has grown into a popular spectator sport. The endangered whooping crane, which winters at the nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is probably the most watched bird. Special whooping crane tours to the refuge are available through one of the local marinas November through March as well as during the annual Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds, which is held the last weekend in February each year.
One of the oldest landmarks is the Lydia Ann Lighthouse. Although privately owned, the lighthouse is once again operational and has shed its reassuring light for almost 90 years for mariners seeking the channel entrance. The hand-polished lens which came from France is 67 feet above the marshy land. Scarred during the Civil War, one story is that the Confederate soldiers took the lens from the lighthouse and buried it to prevent Yankee blockaders from operating it, should it be captured.
Another point of interest is the Tarpon Inn, built in 1886 and boasting a wall full of tarpon scales with such famous signatures as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Duncan Hines. Still popular today, the vintage wooden structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, as well as a Texas Landmark.
The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is situated along the ship channel between Mustang and San Jose Island. Displays include Gulf marine life, plants, and a fascinating introduction to oceanography. Aquariums show sea life from the marshy wetlands to the floor of the ocean. There is also an extensive shell display. The Institute's Center is open weekdays year round.
New to Port A in the upcoming months will be an Arnold Palmer 18 hole Links golf course and the Wetlands Education Center at UTMSI, open to the public with boardwalks and self guided tours. Whether you prefer a cozy cottage, conventional motel room, luxury condominium, or the privacy of your own beach house, the Island offers a myriad of choices, (over 3,500 rooms to be exact). In addition, there are numerous RV parks and camping is available at the I.B. Magee Beach Park or Mustang Island State Park.
For more information call 1-800-45-COAST or visit their website at www.portaransas.org.