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15 Best Things to Do in Port Aransas

Port Aransas, located just south of Corpus Christi on Mustang Island, has been known for over one hundred years as the crown jewel of vacation spots along the 367 miles of Texas coastline, in part because of the many wonderful things to do in Port Aransas.

Wondering what to do in Port Aransas? We’ve rounded up the most popular Port Aransas attractions here.

Dolphins swimming in the ocean near Port Aransas. Safely spotting wild dolphins from a distance belongs on any list of what to do in Port Aransas TX

The Best Things to Do in Port Aransas

Experience some deep-sea fishing.

From Tarpon to tuna, plenty of options are available as you discover the harbor area just off Cotter Street.

There, professional outfitters are ready to provide the best deep-sea fishing experience on the Texas coast. Once aboard, you’ll experience the thrill of the open ocean and with a little luck, the catch of the day. Ready to clean and cook that catch for you, Fin’s Grill and Icehouse, adjacent to Deep Sea Headquarters will make you feel right at home.

Once you finish up, relax with a cold brew on their open-air patio while expert chefs prepare the fresh meal you caught yourself.

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Hit the water in a kayak or SUP.

Rent a kayak, SUP, or bring your own to enjoy over 20 miles of well-marked paddling trails on the Mustang Island Paddling Trail, easily accessible off Highway 361, or The Lighthouse Lakes Paddling trail in nearby Aransas Pass.

Experience some of the best shallow-water fishing for red drum, spotted seatrout, or flounder in Texas. Glide over sand flats and meander the black mangrove estuaries and salt marshes. Scores of colorful coastal birds in their natural habitat will escort you on the trails.

Both trails are part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife parks system.

Couple kayaking in an orange and black kayak as seen from above with water surrounding them

Try out parasailing.

Fly 200 to 300 feet high over the ocean in the seat of a parasail.

Once in the air, you’ll see unparalleled ocean vistas and even dolphins swimming right under your feet in the Gulf of Mexico and the Lydia Ann channel. 

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Learn about birdwatching.

Port Aransas is home to 6 key sites on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail, the first and largest trail of its kind in the country.

During the area’s world-renowned spring and fall migrations, you can see many of the 450 different species of migratory birds. The strategic location of Port Aransas and Mustang Island on the Central Flyway migration route makes the area uniquely attractive to migrating birds.

The accessible boardwalks and observation towers located throughout the area let even a casual observer spot birds like an old pro, making birdwatching one of the best things to do in Port Aransas!

Boardwalk in the marshes near Port Aransas TX built for birdwatching

Check out Texas SandFest.

The world-renowned Texas SandFest is an over-the-top sandcastle-building contest that takes place each spring and is one of the most popular Port Aransas attractions. Enjoy this festival on the clean sands of the beaches voted “Top United States Family Beach” in 2019!

Not in town during the festival? No worries: building a sandcastle of your own definitely belongs on any list of what to do in Port Aransas.

Small sandcastle on the Port Aransas beach with children playing in the background

Build your own wooden boat.

During a visit to the Farley Boat Works, an interactive historical site brings the days of the iconic Farley Boat to life for visitors.

You can also attend the Port Aransas Museum’s Wooden Boat Festival each spring, where you can participate in a contest to build your very own wooden boat or bring home a replica of the famous Farley boat, which can be seen all around Port Aransas as colorful planters and yard decorations.

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Observe the endangered whooping cranes.

Take a short drive up I35 just an hour and a half north of Port Aransas to The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Famously known as the winter home to the only natural flock of whooping cranes in the world, it is a destination sure to delight everyone.

White whooping crane in shallow water in South Texas. Observing these endangered creatures from a safe distance is one of the best things to do in Port Aransas TX

Race a sailboat (or just enjoy the view).

The Harvest Moon Regatta is held annually each fall and is hosted by the Lakewood Yacht Club of Port Aransas. Between 150 and 200 sailboats participate every year as they set sail from Galveston to the finish line in Port Aransas.

Don’t have a sailboat? Come watch the boats finish and meet the skippers. You just might find your new favorite sport!

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Watch the sunrise over the beach.

The early wake-up call to enjoy the sunrise on the beach may be a bit rough for those of us who aren’t early risers, but it’ll definitely feel worth it once you have your toes in the sand as the sun slowly rises over the ocean.

Sunrise over the beach, one of the best things to do in Port Aransas TX

Meet dolphins… and pirates.

No visit to Port Aransas is complete without meeting wild dolphins out on the open ocean. Combine that with the excitement of “real” pirates, and your vacation will get an “A” rating from the kids.

Step onto the double deck of the Lydia Ann or The Red Dragon, 17th-century pirate ship replicas, and prepare to defend your treasures from rival pirates as dolphins accompany you on your journey!

Both ships sail with all the amenities you’ll need for a few hours at sea, including modern GPS and required Coast Guard safety accessories.

Pirate boat on the water at sunset in Port Aransas

Go horseback riding on the beach.

Always dreamed of riding a horse in the waves of the ocean?

From Port Aransas, a quick drive down State Highway 361 and a few miles south on Park Road 22 is Horses on the Beach, a family-friendly ranch that offers daily guided horseback rides in the sand and surf of the warm Gulf of Mexico.

Get your photo taken mid-splash by one of their professional photographers! All riders over 8 years are welcome.

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Rent a golf cart to easily explore the town.

There’s no easier way to explore the town of Port Aransas–and perhaps do a bit of shopping- than from the comfortable seat of a golf cart.

Rent one for the day at one of the many rental companies that make Port Aransas a shopper’s paradise.

Enjoy the fresh salt breeze off the Gulf and easy parking no matter where you shop. In between boutiques, enjoy a self-guided tour of local neighborhoods and vacation rentals.

Colorful blue and yellow houses in Port Aransas with palm trees next to them

Explore San Jose Island.

A pristine island experience awaits those who choose to visit this remarkable uninhabited barrier island.

No shops, restaurants, or facilities are available, but hunting for unique seashells along the 21 miles of unspoiled coastline will keep collectors thrilled, and swimmers will love the crystal-clear waters.

Rent a jet ski for the day.

Wind, waves, water, and sun all await when you climb on a jet ski for a day on the ocean. Rent a jet ski for the day from Nauticool in nearby North Padre or from Port A H20 in Port Aransas. Call ahead for reservations, availability, and cost.

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Enjoy the beach!

Of course, we can’t wrap up this list of the best things to do in Port Aransas without mentioning the reason that everyone visits in the first place: without a doubt, enjoying the sandy beaches of Mustang Island is the biggest Port Aransas attraction of them all.

With more than 18 miles of public beaches to enjoy, you’re bound to find a stretch of sand to enjoy when visiting Mustang Island.

Padre Island National Seashore near Port Aransas TX as seen from above

Where is Port Aransas?

Port Aransas, with a population of around 4000, is just over 30 minutes from Corpus Christi in southwest Texas and can be reached via South Padre Island Drive (S.P.I.D). to Mustang Island, and then north.

It can also be accessed via the free ferry from Aransas Pass, which will drop you off right in the middle of town.

4 photos from Mustang Island Texas: sunrise, dolphins, sandcastle, boardwalk. Black text on a white background reads "15 best things to do in Port Aransas"

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