Mustang Island is as full of wild spirit as the name implies.
Located off the Texas coast, this 18 mile long barrier island was named after the wild horses, Mestenos, that roamed the sandy beaches and grazed the grassy pastures.
The island changed hands many times.
Pirates spent quite a bit of time on the island in the 1800s. Legend goes that somewhere on the island is a Spanish dagger with a silver spike driven through the hilt, marking the spot where French pirate Jean LaFitte buried a chest of gold and jewels.
A fort built on the island during the 1846-48 Mexican War was used until after the American Civil War and steamships ran regular service between Mustang Island and New Orleans until a massive storm ended service in 1875.
Today, the island is a beautiful get-away with a plethora of thriving wild-life, watersports for the whole family, soft white beaches and delicious dining.
Here are five things you should do on Mustang Island to truly live out the island life.
Spot Boots and Bags, the resident American alligators, and watch heron hunt at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center. A wooden boardwalk sits over brackish marshlands full of cattails and wildlife. Fish, turtles and a colorful mix of birds, including red-winged blackbirds, cormorants, great egrets and roseate spoonbills, call the marsh home.
Bring a pair of binoculars and the Port Aransas birding checklist, head up to the observation deck or peer out along the boardwalk and spot as many species as you can. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, watching birds feed, fight and play is a treat. The more you look, the more you will see.
Address: 1356 Ross Ave, Port Aransas, TX 78373
Cost: Honors system donation of any amount
For thrill seekers looking for the absolute best views of the island, skydiving is a must. Skydive South Texas will make you feel comfortable, whether it’s your first go or you’re a pro. You can’t beat aerial views of the beach and gulf. View the scenery and enjoy the rush.
- $225– Basic package
- $300– includes a video or photos
- $325– professionally edited photos and a video
- $355– professionally edited photos and a video and you start from 13,000 ft. instead of 11,000 ft.
Paddle and relax
Experience Mustang island and relax, swim and fish all in the same day by paddling one of the trails. You can paddle inland trails through the island or costal trails around the island. Paddle for a few hours or spend your entire day exploring.
The trails offer some of the best shallow-water fishing areas in Texas. There are also plenty of wading and shore birds to watch. There are several places to rent equipment from around the island as well as 3 major access sites with parking.
Website: Mustang Island Paddling Trails
Cost: The access sites are free however you will need to buy or rent equipment.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
If you need a break from seafood, head to JB’s German Bakery. The fresh-baked bread makes a perfect seaside snack or base for home-made sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with one of strudel’s or any of the pies. If you’re celebrating, nab one of the delicious cakes.
JB’s German Bakery also serves German meals. Try the Weisswurst for a German classic or one of the sandwiches served on house made bread. JB’s pastries might just become a morning routine.
Website: JB’s German Bakery
Eat like a local
For delicious local seafood at a great price, there’s no better pick than Irie’s Island Food. The dining room is cramped and the food is served without fanfare but you’ll leave satisfied.
The menu can be described as “Mexican fusion” but the dishes take their inspiration from around the world. There are rice dishes, tacos, spring rolls, hot Beignets and American favorites such as burgers and Po’ boy among other options. Eat in the little dining room or take your food to the beach. There’s no wrong way to enjoy the island life.
Website: Irie’s Island Food