Port Aransas
Always In Season

"Port Aransas sprawls comfortably across the sands of northern Mustang Island just off the middle Texas Coast. But don't let the town's leisurely demeanor fool you. Port Aransas exhilarates. It exudes personality. And it pulls persistently at you, in a soothing sort of way. Just ask one of the thousands of folks who return here year after year for their seasonal sojourn in the sun."
Rosemary Williams, Texas Highways.

Port Aransas, a little fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico, is located on the northern tip of Mustang Island, one of the barrier islands along the Central Texas Coast across from Corpus Christi Bay. Mustang Island, which got its name from the wild horses that once roamed the island, is an 18-mile stretch of clean, sandy beach offering visitors birding, shelling, fishing, beach combing, surf fishing, or just plain relaxation. Lodging choices, including campgrounds, RV sites, motels, inns, cottages and condominiums add to the enjoyment and invite visitors to return year after year. A wealth of condominiums, economical cottage-style facilities, moderately priced, well-appointed rooms on and off the beach and R.V. sites across the island make a visit possible for any size budget. Camping is also available at many popular parks including Mustang Island State Park and Nueces County Park with its 1,240-foot-long Horace Caldwell Pier over the Gulf of Mexico.

While visitors can get to Port "A" (the shortened nickname the natives use) via Highway 361 from North Padre Island, the most scenic and enjoyable way is by ferry, which operates 24-hours- a-day. Scenery and wildlife abound during the short ferry ride. The once-again operational Aransas Lighthouse, one of only a few still used in the U. S. for navigation, can be seen in the distance. Awe inspiring to even the most regular visitor to Port Aransas are the dolphins that frolic in and out of the waters of the ship channel. The bird life, too, provides entertainment with the antics of brown pelicans, white pelicans and the ever-present variety of gulls.

The outdoor attractions, because of the year-round semi-tropical weather, remain a dominant attraction to Port Aransas.

True bird watching fans are spreading the word about the Port Aransas Birding Center. Port Aransas is home to hundreds of permanent and part-time birds of every description and has four sites (with two Centers) designated on the island in The Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. In addition to the shorebirds and migrating species, the Center and the Wetlands Park boast vegetation pockets specifically designed to attract hummingbirds and other exciting birds in the spring and fall. Boardwalks over the water at each center allow visitors to almost touch teh birds,and check off roseate spoonbills, least grebes, reddish egrets, black-bellied whistling ducks, crested caracara, bitterns, rails, and the list goes on and on. Information on how to earn a birding patch may be obtained by visiting the Port Aransas Tourist Bureau at 421 Cotter (near the ferry landing). According to the National Audubon Society, Port Aransas ranks as one of the top locations along the Texas coastline for bird watching!

In addition to the bird and plant life, the Center is home to "Boots," a six-foot-long alligator, who is occasionally seen basking in the sun, as well as an extended family of turtles and nutria, the brown, furry, beaver-like animals brought from Australia to bolster the fur industry.

Birding enthusiasts will not want to miss a visit to The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, home of the rare wintering whooping cranes that sometimes reach an unbelievable height of 6 feet. Boats leave from Port Aransas and Rockport during the winter months enabling you to get closer to these beautiful, endangered birds. Novice and experienced birders will want to mark their calendars to attend the annual "Celebration of Whooping Cranes and Other Birds" festival the last weekend of February held in Port " A".

Since Port Aransas is also known as the Fishing Capital of Texas it only makes sense that the fishing possibilities are endless here! Word of the excellent fishing got out decades ago when President Franklin Roosevelt fished here for tarpon. However, it's not just tarpon that Port Aransas offers (Tarpon are plentiful, but may not be taken). Each season provides bountiful catch for all kinds of anglers. Fish that frequent Port Aransas waters during the summer season include: king mackerel, sailfish, marlin, and scamp. Spring time brings plenty of ling, pompano, red snapper, and much more. During the fall and winter seasons, the amberjack, grouper, and red snapper are most definitely out and biting! Marinas are at every turn in Port Aransas, because deep-sea fishing is big business. So big, in fact, that there is a fishing tournament virtually every weekend during the summer and almost that many during fall, winter and spring months. Fishing the bays, piers, jetties, and wading is also excellent year-round, with many full stringers and exciting stories for Port "A" fishing enthusiasts.

Shelling is a serious hobby on the 18-mile Gulf beach, the shores around the harbor and especially on St. Jo Island, where one must board the "Jetty Boat" departing from Woody's daily and almost hourly to reach the uninhabited island. Sundials, sanddollars, lightning welks, delicate angel wings, shark eyes and star fish are there for the taking. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day.

If the languid pace of lying on a lounge and working on a tan are too sedate for your taste, be aware that even the most dedicated sporting enthusiast can find an activity to their liking. Visitors enjoy horseback riding on the beach, jet skiing, wind surfing, biking, rig diving and beach volley ball, kite flying and board surfing (the surf is always up in Port "A") and many more activities during their stay on the island. A visit to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute allows you to get a close up view of underwater marine life. Board a boat for a nature tour of the channel and examine ocean entities like starfish and sea urchins trawled up with plankton nets while playful dolphins perform their antics along the side of the boat and guide your way.

Hop on the free trolley for a ride around the island. Then hop off at one of the many fine restaurants for a "catch of the day" meal, or take your bagged fish to a favorite restaurant and have it prepared with all the trimmings just the way you like it. Visit a fun souvenir shop for bargains and unique treasures, a fine are gallery with nationally known works or for a hands on experience, pop in at the local art center to join one of the many workshops offered year round, or a boutique to purchase your gifts to take home as a remembrance of your island visit. Candy shops, custom-made boots, surfboards, colorful kites anyone? Port Aransas shops have it all.

Discover the many reasons to visit Port Aransas - The Rest of Texas.

For more information:
Port Aransas Tourist Bureau
P. O. Box 356
Port Aransas, Texas 78373
1-800-45-COAST or 512-749-5919
http://www.portaransas.org.