Camping and Kayaking on Padre Island

I have long wanted to go kayaking around one of the bays between the barrier islands and the Texas mainland. I have thought about planning a trip down to the coast for this multiple times and last weekend I just did it. I went to Padre Island National Seashore which is just south of Corpus Christi. There is bay side camping there or you can go camp on the beach on the gulf side of the island. I wanted to camp bayside so I could just get up and go kayak in the morning if I wanted to. Also, it can get really windy on the beach and I worried about my tent blowing down. So, off I went down to the coast on Saturday.

Padre Island National Seashore is not a “national park” but it is part of the national park system, so it is a national park. The National Seashore is most famous for sea turtle conservation as several species of sea turtle nest along the beaches of Texas. If a sea turtle nesting is reported, they will wait until the mother turtle has left and then collect the eggs to be safely incubated and released when they are ready to hatch. The mother sea turtle does not return to its nest, so she is none the wiser. When the sea turtle hatchlings are ready to be released, there is often a public event that you can attend to watch the baby turtles crawl off into the sea. There was no sea turtle release during my trip, so I didn’t get to see such a thing.

I have a National Park Pass, so my admission was covered at the main gate and I found that there were plenty of available campsites at the bayside campground, so I picked one at random. Below is a photo of my campsite taken the next day before I took it down. You can see that the bay is very shallow as there is a man out there fishing, standing in knee-deep water. There is a dredged ship channel closer to the mainland. You can also see that it is almost impossible to take a landscape photo without a bird in it.

The sand is also home to hundreds of hermit crabs and the sand near the water is full of the little holes they make. I sat at the picnic table for a while reading and I eventually saw a few of them scurrying around. I got up to get my camera, but they all headed right back into the their holes.

On to photography. I didn’t go on this trip specifically for photography, but I brought a camera of course. As the sun was setting across the bay, I thought that the reflection of sunlight across the water and my kayak on the shore would make a nice photo conveying the end of a nice afternoon on the bay. I’m very happy with how this photo worked out with the blue sky and yellow sun light reaching across the blue water to the yellow kayak. And a bird flying through the scene, of course.

The above and below photos were HDR merges of five images to get the full dynamic range. I first tried a simple HDR merge in Lightroom, to see if the water’s motion between shots would be a problem. Once I enable ghosting correction, it came together well. My back-up plan was to merge the photos using masks in Photoshop, which is more time consuming for me because my Photoshop kung-fu is weak. But, I was happy with the Lightroom HDR merge and so I worked with that.

The sunset wasn’t incredibly spectacular, but I photographed it anyway with some wildflowers along the shore.

As it got dark, I lay in my tent reading a book until I got sleepy. There was a nice breeze blowing through-out the night, so it didn’t seem so hot.

There was a spot with some dunes that I pegged for a sunrise photo, but there were some thick clouds on the horizon and there wasn’t much of a sunrise show to watch. I kayaked a few times and had a leisurely Sunday morning. There were a few other kayakers and people fishing in the bay. As I paddled around the shallow waters, occasionally fish would jump out of the water in front of me, so it seems like a good place to fish.

I had driven down from Austin to Corpus Christi on some back roads but drove back on the Interstate highways. It may have been faster going back, but I prefer the backroads for less stressful driving. The area between San Antonio and Austin is almost completely city and the Interstate is 3 or 4 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic the entire way. I don’t recommend it.

Now the kayak and my vehicle have been cleaned of all the sand and I am thinking about doing this again some time. Thanks for reading.

26 thoughts on “Camping and Kayaking on Padre Island

  1. The picture of your kayak in the sunset is beautiful! It speaks tranquility.
    Reading by the water sounds perfect. I would be considering another trip there as well, if I was you. I would also stay on the backroads.
    Go on a turtle release day, that would be fun to see all of Myrtle’s babies. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The turtle babies, like human babies, come out on their own schedule. So, you can get a general idea for when there will be a hatching but it is hard to schedule. The last I checked, they had a release scheduled for this morning. You can read all about it on the park’s webpage.

      On the beach side of the park, there were a lot of people on the beach. I drove down the beach for several miles and I never saw then end of people, though it did thin out a bit.

      I also saw coyotes and deer among the dunes, which I wasn’t expecting.


      1. You should have just stayed longer, told your boss that you were busy watching turtle eggs hatch. πŸ™‚

        Glad you could get away from the majority of people at least . You were able to tent real close to the water.

        You were surprised by coyotes and deer, but no cow??

        Liked by 1 person

      1. By the way, I got your question last week, and tried to send a reply to you. I’m not sure if that reply went through, due to issues I’m having with my email. I was on vacation last week. But your question should appear today, on my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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