11 Fun Things to Do in Port Isabel: Lighthouse + Beyond!

The tiny town of Port Isabel, Texas, is perhaps best known for two things: the charming Port Isabel lighthouse, and the fact that it is the last stop before crossing from the mainland over to South Padre Island.

If you stop to enjoy the town, though, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Port Isabel, TX!

Port Isabel is the perfect combination of beach access that is beaming with history around every turn. Nature lovers, history buffs, people visiting the Gulf Coast with kids, and more will all enjoy a visit to Port Isabel.

Here’s what to do in Port Isabel!

While we’ve focused the bulk of this blog post on the town of Port Isabel itself, we have included a couple of popular nearby activities as well.
queen isabella causeway as seen from port isabel lighthouse
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Best Things to Do in Port Isabel

Explore the South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center.

When visiting Port Isabel, the South Padre Island Dolphin Research Nature Center is a must-visit. Though South Padre is in the name, this center is actually located in Port Isabel!

It is a great place to learn about all types of life that live in the ocean and why it is important to take care of it.

The center offers a variety of dolphin tours to catch dolphins in their natural habitat while being educated by knowledgeable guides. Another amazing aspect about the center is that it has touch tanks where you can see different types of sea life up close and personal.

Hands-on learning is truly one of the best ways to learn, and the South Padre Island Research Center is the perfect place to learn something new.

wooden sign that states "welcome to port isabel bienvenidos"

Tour the Port Isabel Lighthouse.

The Port Isabel Lighthouse is another aspect of this town that shows its rich and diverse history. This lighthouse was once used as a lookout tower for soldiers as well as the guiding light to direct people into the Rio Grande.

It was originally built out of bricks that were brought from New Orleans and is one of the oldest working lighthouses in Texas.

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You can also climb the lighthouse for a beautiful view of the square, the Causeway, Laguna Madre, and South Padre Island!

At only 75 steps, it’s a short climb and one of the most unique things to do in Port Isabel, Texas.

port isabel lighthouse museum
Don’t forget to visit the small museum in the former keeper’s cottage, either!

Spot a Dolphin aboard Dolphin Docks

Dolphins are truly a majestic site and no matter how many times you see them frolicking in the ocean waters, seeing them never seems to get old. There is something about looking over the vast ocean only to find a group of dolphins jumping all over.

If spotting a dolphin is one of your goals while visiting Port Isabel, then booking a cruise with Dolphin Docks is definitely a great idea.

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Besides being a perfect place to spot a dolphin, Dolphin Docks has sunset cruises, bay fishing, ecology tours, and more.

Dolphin Docks is the perfect way to truly experience the vastness of the ocean and learn something new while you are out exploring.

3 wild dolphins as seen from a boat in texas

Spend the day at the Pirates Landing Fishing Pier.

The Pirates Landing Fishing Pier is the longest pier in Texas and gives you some incredible views of Laguna Madre that surround you as you explore.

The pier not only creates a perfect place to throw in a fishing line, but it is kept pristine year-round to allow visitors the perfect place to soak up the sounds of the waves.

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You can grab a bite to eat at the conveniently located snack shops or find the tackle you need to score a big catch.

No matter what kind of adventure you want to have, traveling to the Pirates Landing Fishing pier is absolutely worth your stop. Also, visiting the Pirates Landing Fishing Pier also puts you directly next to the Port Isabel Lighthouse as well as the Black Dragon cruise.

port isabel tx harbor

Grab a bite to eat.

There is one thing that is not in short supply in Port Isabel, and that is delicious food.

You can try some authentic Mexican food at Manuel’s or try all types of seafood at various restaurants scattered throughout this coastal town.

Many restaurants are located with a view of the water, making them the perfect spot to catch the sunset to close out a fantastic day.

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Find some treasures at the Port Isabel Flea Market.

If you love a good treasure hunt, then the Port Isabel Flea Market is the perfect stop for you. 

When you find yourself at the Port Isabel Flea Market, you can find handmade goods as well as find a good deal on various thrift items.

There is sure to be something that will catch your eye among the miles of booths made up of a huge assortment of vendors.

Collection of small porcelain items for sale at a flea market. First Monday Canton is one of the most interesting things to do in Texas for people interested in flea markets!

Learn something new at the Port Isabel History Museum.

Touted as one of the largest collections of relics and artifacts from the Mexican-American war, the Port Isabel History Museum has history weaved throughout its walls.

With two stories of exhibits, there is a ton to be learned in the walls of the Port Isabel History Museum,

If you are a history buff, adding the museum to your list will be sure to teach you something new.

Another amazing aspect of the Port Isabel Museum is that it was first painted in 1906, and you will see murals that still cover the walls today.

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Sit back and enjoy Isla Blanca Park.

If you simply are looking to visit Port Isabel to escape the hustle and bustle of every day, then a beach day on South Padre may be the perfect idea for you.

Grab all of your favorite snacks and head out early to find a space at Isla Blanca Beach to soak up the sounds of the ocean while digging your feet into the sand.

The beauty of Isla Blanca Beach is that the whole family will enjoy it, and you can make a day out of it. Let the kids jump in the ocean waves and build sandcastles while you grab your favorite book and enjoy the scenery.

Kate Storm on the beach in South Padre Island Texas holding her dog Ranger

Take a bay tour aboard the Black Dragon.

I mean, what could be cooler than taking a tour of the ocean while onboard a pirate ship?

By booking a pirate ship cruise onboard the Black Dragon, you and your family are bound to have an unforgettable day enjoying one of the coolest things to do in Port Isabel.

While a lot of fun happens while you are a passenger on the ship, there is even a pre-show that takes place thirty minutes before the cruise takes off. If you are lucky to arrive early enough, your family will get to meet the “pirates” but also hear the cannon fired.

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When the cannon is fired, it signals an all aboard for all passengers to climb aboard the ship.

Sit back and enjoy sword fighting and various improv shows while you enjoy a snack or drink from the bar.

Besides enjoying a hilarious night surrounded by pirates, you can also look out the sides of the boats to hopefully catch a glimpse of dolphins wanting to join in on the fun.

pirate flag waving, pirates landing is one of the best places to visit in port isabel tx

Explore Lighthouse Square.

The Port Isabel lighthouse square is the perfect place to explore unique one-of-a-kind shops while also finding the perfect souvenir for your trip.

Each storefront you come to provides you with quaint and charming goods that add character to this beach town day in and day out.

While journeying through Lighthouse Square, you can satisfy your sweet tooth by finding some sweet desserts too much on or simply grabbing a quick bite to eat in between shopping.

shops in port isabel lighthouse square

Enjoy the rides at Gravity Park

Even though Gravity Park is located nearby in South Padre Island, it is definitely worth the drive over the Causeway.

If you are an adrenaline junkie or just love to spend your days trying out different rides, Gravity Park is just right for you.

You can race to the top of the rock wall or try to be the fastest on the go-kart track; there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.

If you truly want an adrenaline rush, hop on the tallest reverse bungee in the world, the Rocket.

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Where is Port Isabel, Texas?

Port Isabel is located in the Southeast corner of Texas, on the opposite side of the Queen Isabella Causeway from South Padre Island.

2 photos of port isabel texas: lighthouse and causeway. black and pink text on a white background reads "11 fun things to do port isabel"

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