Located on the 18-mile long Mustang Island — a four-hour drive from Austin — Port Aransas stands alone as the only town on this barrier island. And after a swift recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the laid-back destination is gearing up for another busy tourist season.
In April, 70 percent of Port Aransas restaurants reopened. And by June, the destination's hotels will be running at 80 percent capacity, with all 2,000 vacation homes available for bookings.
Because of its mild, year-round temperatures, "Port A" has always been a popular summer spot for travelers seeking a mix of outdoor activities, excellent seafood restaurants, and cultural attractions such as art galleries, boutique shops, and cafes. So rest assured, Port Aransas is ready to welcome back vacationers seeking a traditional southern getaway. And this year's special events promise to make a Port Aransas trip especially memorable.
Due to its ideal location along the Central Flyway (a major migratory bird route) Port Aransas is home to hundreds of species of birds, with thousands of species migrating here annually. Six sites on the Great Texas Birding Trail are located on the island, making it easy for ornithologists to enjoy the abundance of birds in the area. Make sure to stop by the Port Aransas Wetlands Park and the Joan and Scott Holt Paradise Pond. Just don’t forget to bring binoculars!
Enter a Fishing Tournament
Known as the “Fishing Capital of Texas," it’s no wonder there are tournaments for all experience levels almost every weekend during the summer months. And at this time, half of the island's fishing guides have resumed operations. For those who prefer a more leisurely fishing experience, there are many offshore excursions to consider, including fishing the channels and back bays. Anglers can also cast off one of the public piers on the island, the majority of which will reopen this summer following repairs. During the summer, check out the Deep Sea Roundup: a family-friendly saltwater fishing tournament that's the oldest of its kind on the Gulf Coast.
Stay at a Seaside Resort
Located on a 25 acre property, the Port Royal Ocean Resort has 210 beachfront condos, and offers a host of activities to get visitors on island time. Guests lounge on the beach (accessible via a private boardwalk) or enjoy the lagoon pools, and can break a sweat in a game of tennis or golf.
Meanwhile, the vacation home properties at Cinnamon Shore will all be available by the end of May, as will the condos and cottages at Palmilla Beach Resort & Golf Club.
Take a Hike
The Port Aransas Nature Reserve has three miles of trails located on 1,217 acres. In addition to hiking, the Preserve also contains a pavilion, bicycle paths, and two overlook towers, making it a great place for those who want to take a break from the beach.
Build a Sandcastle
From April 27 until April 29, thousands of visitors converge on the Gulf Coast beaches for the nation's largest native-sand sculpture competition, Texas Sandfest. In 2018, 23 sculptors from across the world will craft masterful sand artworks from the beach — and even travelers can test their talents in the Amateur Competition.
Order the Seafood
You don't have to fish to enjoy incredible seafood during a trip to Port Aransas. The island has especially good Tex-Mex fare, like the signature wahoo or Mahi-filled homemade tortillas at Irie's Island Food, and the lobster tostada at Black Marlin Bar & Grill's. (It comes with a sweet-and-spicy slaw and mango salsa.)