South Padre Island and Port Isabel—where the fish and seafood are plenty and seasoning is most likely unnecessary

Perhaps the large territory comes to be associated with the arid deserts of the southwest, yet the Lone Star State also boasts a nearly 400-mile-long coastline on the Gulf of Mexico dotted with white sand beaches, littoral towns and a wealth of charming anchorages. Halfway down her coast, south of Corpus Christi and far from any interstate highways lies the mouth of the Laguna Madre, among the most remote and forgotten cruising grounds on the Gulf Coast.

Shielded by South Padre Island and stretching all the way south to Mexico, this narrow lagoon not only runs along the Gulf but is also a rarity: It is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, even saltier than our seas and oceans. With its shallow depth, few inlets to the Gulf of Mexico and lack of fresh water coming from the plains of South Texas, this unique ecosystem buffered on both sides by sand dunes has remained in a pristine state, her shores barely touched by developers. Cruisers who have discovered the Laguna Madre’s unique beauty lament South Padre Island’s reputation as a college spring break destination, yet the 34-mile-long island and the artsy town of Port Isabel at its furthest point south open their arms wide to cruisers throughout the year.