A Hidden Gem on the Texas Coast

As one of the oldest cities in the south of Texas, Port Isabel has a lot history.

Port Isabel has taken measures to preserve its long history and now you can enjoy several historical sites. Climb the steps of the Port Isabel Lighthouse for breathtaking views. The Port Isabel Historical Museum covers the history of the town from the Mexican-American war up to present day and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum houses maritime history– including 16th century Spanish shipwrecks. Explore this quiet seaside retreat with these fun, hidden gems.

Queen Isabella Causeway, Port Isabel, Texas
Photo credit: Vince Smith
Port Isabel Lighthouse
By lfwlfw / Bevo at English Wikipedia – originally posted to Flickr as Port Isabel Texas Lighthouse / Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Liftarn using CommonsHelper., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8025560

Fish Off a Giant Pier

Even if you’re not a pro angler, you’ll have fun casting your line off Texas’ longest lighted fishing pier. Pirate’s Landing Pier has everything you need for a day of fishing including a bait shop, snack bar with Krispy Krunchy Chicken and restrooms. No worries if you didn’t bring any equipment, you can rent whatever you need to make your big catch.

Snap a Pic

Pop by the Port Isabel Yacht Club for some vintage photo-ops. The Yacht Club Hotel, built in the 1920s, is an example of Spanish Colonial revival architecture that was popular in California and Florida between 1915 and 1931. The red terracotta tiles, white stucco exterior, tropical landscaping and rooftop cupolas are a throwback to a different time. The club is closed for now but recently came under new ownership and will hopefully be restored.

Other unique picture spots include the Shrimp Boats, visible from South Shore & Port District and the end of Champion St, the El Paseo hiking and biking trails, and of course any of the coastland.

Take a Tour of the Lighthouse

Standing 72 feet tall, the Port Isabel Lighthouse has been a beacon for travelers for over 160 years. The Port Isabel Lighthouse is the only lighthouse on the Texas coast that is open to the public. Pop in for a visit and learn about a piece of Texas history.

From Rancher Town to the Center of a War

The history is really what makes this town. In the mid 1800’s, Port Isabel was a small outpost on the Texas coast. Ranchers made up most of the population. The El Fronton de Santa Isabella settlement served as headquarters for a large Mexican ranch owned by Don Rafael Garcia. Not much happened in the town until war struck.

In 1846, America declared war against Mexico over disputed areas of Texas. The sleepy town of Port Isabel was suddenly near the center of conflict.

Shipping picked up with military and medical supplies flowing into Texas. A navigational light suddenly became a necessity and work on the Port Isabel Lighthouse began.

The lighthouse was finished in 1853 and was used in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. In the late 1880s, it was used for commercial shipping. Commercial shipping to Texas slowed and in the early 1900s the lighthouse was closed.
Today, the Port Isabel Lighthouse stands as a historical site and a beacon to visitors.


Location: 421 E. Queen Isabel Blvd. in Lighthouse Square, Port Isabel, South Padre Island, TX 78418

Admission: You can purchase tickets for the lighthouse in the Lighthouse, the Keepers Cottage (Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center), the Treasures of the Gulf Museum and the Port Isabel Historical Museum. Tickets are sold separately for each of these attractions. Combination tickets are available.

• Adults & Children $4
• Seniors $3
• Students with id $2
• Children 5 and under: Free

Hours: 9a.m. to 5p.m. Daily, Year-round

What to expect: Climb the 75 steps to the top of the lighthouse for unrivaled views. Visitors can see 16-miles out when conditions are good. Bring your camera but leave behind any beverages, food, chewing gum, backpacks and writing instruments as these are not allowed in the lighthouse.