Port Aransas is situated along the coast of Texas, south of Corpus Christi. It is the only inhabited place on Mustang Island with a population of less than five thousand; it can hold up to 60,000 people during peak vacation seasons. Just by these stats, we can get an idea about this top-rated tourist site. People plan ahead to spend their vacation here as there are tons of activities to take part in.
This small yet lively place is as resilient as any historical city. It has survived long periods of French and British colonization, civil wars, pirates, and even natural calamities. In 1916, Texas Hurricane made its way into the area, which completely destroyed Port Aransas. Port Aransas was an active site during World War II as well, with a gun turret installed to secure the passageway. In 2017, Texas was hit by Hurricane Harvey again, with wind speeds ranging up to 132 mph, suffering significant damage. All this damage, and yet Port Aransas still stands today with all its glory.
History of Port Aransas
In the early 19th century, Port Aransas was a place where pirates used to stay or hide. Between the years 1800 and 1820, this place was full of pirates searching for rich people to rob them. If you visit Port Aransas, you will hear stories about the hidden treasures buried there by the pirates. The most famous one is the treasure chest with the mark made by a Spanish silver dagger.
In 1850, the eighth district US Life Saving Station was built in Port Aransas by the US Life Saving Service. This station’s purpose was to rescue mariners in trouble, and full-time crews were always working in this station.
The Lydia Ann Channel Lighthouse of Port Aransas was of great significance during the American Civil War. The lens of this lighthouse was taken off and was hidden at the start of the Civil war. The reason was that the lighthouse was the only thing used to control the nighttime passageway in those days. This was done in order to limit the movement of Union Ships at night.
In 1916, the Port of Aransas was almost entirely destroyed by the 1916 Texas Hurricane. But even this immense destruction caused by the hurricane couldn’t discourage this city’s people for long. The famous Tarpon Inn of Port Aransas was rebuilt, and all the destroyed wharves, warehouses, and docks were replaced soon. After being rebuilt, the city became a tourist attraction. Not just tourists but surfers, anglers, and vacationers also started visiting this beautiful land.
Following are some of the best outdoor activities that you can do in Port Aransas:
1. Deep-Sea Fishing
Port Aransas is famous for the variety of fish its water has. You will be amazed by the kind of fish you catch right off Cotter Street. Book yourself from the Deep Sea Department and experience the magic of the deep and vast ocean. Catch yourself some fish along with your family and see who catches the biggest one.
Many restaurants like the famous Fin’s Grill live cooks your catch and offers you an open-air terrace experience after dinner. This could be an all-day activity, and you will feel fresher than before.
2. Go Kayaking
You can rent a kayak or a SUP and go out for a day in the ocean. There are marked trails right off Highway 361. And of course, you can continue your fishing experience in these shallow waters too. You will hardly find any activity in Port Aransas that does not involve fishing. Therefore, it can conveniently be termed as Port Aransas’s signature activity.
While kayaking, get ready to be mesmerized by the beauty of nature as dozens of exotic ocean birds will surround you. The trails are part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife system, so you don’t need to be scared. Just enjoy the ride of a lifetime.
3. Check Out Parasailing
Imagine that you are flying in the air with the wind in your hair and a deep, blue ocean under you. And you see a dolphin swimming freely along the surface of the sea. How does it sound to you? You can experience all this by trying out parasailing at Port Aransas.
Fly up to 300 meters in the air with clean and soothing air in your face and not a worry in the world. There are many cute dolphins in the Lydia Ann channel waiting to amuse you with their cuteness.
It may sound boring, but birdwatching can be an incredibly soothing experience. Hundreds of exotic bird species migrate from different places and stay for a while in Port Aransas, which is among the six key sites for Texas Coastal Bird Trail.
Due to their geographical location, Mustang Island and Port Aransas, in particular, attract a lot of birds during their migration after a season. The Port’s scenic beauty allows you to watch these birds during a random walk. They have also put high towers specifically for bird enthusiasts. Don’t forget to add this activity to your list as it will surely surprise you.
5. The Famous Texas SandFest
If you happen to plan your vacation in late April, you cannot miss this massive event known as the Texas SandFest. It started as a regular sand-castle-making competition in 1997 but has gotten bigger and more entertaining since then. People from all around the world participate in this competition, creating extraordinary castles out of the sand. You have to register yourself with the competition authorities first to take part in it.
All the earnings of this festival go to community work and local schools.
6. The Harvest Moon Regatta
Each year, around 200 sailboats race each other from Galveston to Port Aransas’s finish line. The Lakewood Yacht Club holds the race, and people often bring their sailboats to the show. Even if you don’t own a sailboat, you can take a seat and enjoy this magnificent race just like you watch on TV. Who knows, you might get motivated enough to invest in a sailboat for the vacation next year.
7. Red Dragon Pirate Cruises
Port Aransas was home to many real-life pirates in the 19th century. The infamous pirate, Captain Jean Lafitte, often haunted Mustang Island and protected the Gulf Coast from other pirates. It is said that his treasures are still buried somewhere on Mustang Island. Keeping such folklore in mind, Red Dragon Cruises has set up interactive adventures for the whole family.
A 70-foot cruise ship serves as a replica of a pirate ship that runs on the water with full entertainment on-board. Although it mimics a pirate’s rough life, there are restrooms and bars on the ship as well. Your kids are sure to love pirate dancing and sword fighting.
8. Meet the Dolphins
Port Aransas has been a spot for vacations and trips for many years. It has also been a great place for school and college trips for vocational purposes. One such educational attraction is the close-up meeting with sea life like dolphins. Dolphin Watch Nature Tours holds trips to the ocean on cruises that can seat up to 100 people at one time.
The deck’s amazing view allows the passengers to watch dolphins playing up close. They can also witness breathtaking sunsets if it is that time of the day. An activity this refreshing cannot be missed at any cost.
9. Horseback Riding on the Beach
If you are a fan of Disney’s The Pirates of the Caribbean, you must have fantasized about being a pirate, ruling the wide beaches. Your fantasy can come true for a while if you visit the humble ranch known as Horses on the beach. They offer you trained horses which take you on a lovely ride on the beach and a surf in the ocean waters. They also provide the services of a professional photographer to shoot insta-worthy pictures of you mid-splash.
10. Rent a Golf Cart
Dedicate a whole day of just driving around on the beach and chilling with your family. Golf carts are easy to operate on the sand and allow you to enjoy the air and the views without hindrance. You can simply drive around doing nothing else or go on a shopping spree.
Port Aransas offers various shops to buy from, ranging from handicrafts to local food cuisine. You can buy all without even stepping out of your golf cart. By the end of the day, your pocket may be a little lighter, but it will be worth it.
11. Dare to Skydive
This one is for more mature and experienced visitors. If you are a novice at skydiving, you can’t miss out on this fun activity at such a heavenly place. Skydive South Texas is the only skydiving adventure firm in the state that operates in Port Aransas as well. They take off from Hanger 1 of Mustang Beach Airport.
You should be above 18 to experience this adventure. Skydiving at Port Aransas is overlooked by certified professionals who make sure that everything is safe. Parachute landings are targeted at nearby San Jose islands, and their customized packages may include videos and professional photography. This might be a little on the expensive side, but skydiving is a must if you want to do something thrilling.
12. Delicious Food
Port Aransas is loaded with eateries and cafés. You will find cuisine of all kinds there and love explosions of taste in your mouth with every bite. As it is evident, the specialty there would be seafood. And many open-air restaurants that offer a wide variety of food to its customers. Their crab appetizers are to die for, as reviewed by many people who had a great time there. Their menu includes a variety of crab cakes followed by clam soups and fried shrimps with a dessert of pies and puddings.
If you want to have a street food kind of experience, then local settlements like Beach and Station Street Grill and San Juan Restaurant are your perfect choice. You will find everything up to your taste buds and with value for money as a bonus.
Port Aransas – A Fun Texas Destination
As far as Texas beaches go and opportunity for great activities, Port Aransas is definitely a destination to consider. The area has a lot to offer for a weekend getaway or some fun with the kids.