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North America > United States of America > Texas > Gulf Coast (Texas) > Rio Grande Valley > Port Isabel

Port Isabel

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The City of Port Isabel, population 6,000, is the southernmost city and port on the Texas coast. It is a tourism, retirement, sports fishing and commercial fishing destination and the gateway to South Padre Island.

Understand[edit]

Setting: Port Isabel is on the coast at the southern tip of Texas, 8 mi (13 km) from Mexico (24 mi (39 km) by car). The 2.6 mile-long (4 km) Queen Isabella Causeway across the Laguna Madre connects it to South Padre Island and the Gulf of Mexico. The gated community of Long Island Village is across a short swing-bridge to the south. A few miles westward along the shore of the Laguna Madre is the settlement of Laguna Heights and the Village of Laguna Vista. This group of communities are collectively known as the “Laguna Madre Community” or “Laguna Madre Area.” The four counties at the southern tip of Texas are called "The Rio Grande Valley" (the "Valley").

Commercial-industrial: The Port Isabel-Brownsville shrimping fleet is highest dollar-value commercial fishery on the east coast of the United States. The Port Isabel - San Benito Navigation District (end of Port Road) mainly supports the offshore oil and gas industry and the industrial area on its property. The Subsea-7 “Spoolbase" prepares pipe on 5,000 foot-long (1,500 m) and spools it onto special ships for pipeline installation throughout the Gulf and Caribbean Basin.

Sports fishing: The Port Isabel - South Padre Island sports fishing industry directly serves anglers from other parts of the Rio Grande Valley and supports the tourism industry, retirement community, and winter residents. There are several marinas, tackle shops, bait stands, and fishing guides to serve anglers. Several fishing tournaments, including the large Texas International Fishing Tournament, bring anglers to the area for fun, comradery, and friendly competition.

Tourism seasons: Traffic tends to stand still during “Texas Week” when Texas schools are on Spring Break in mid-March. Visitors from Mexico fill the area during about two weeks of Semana Santa, for about a week around Cinco de Maya, and sometimes during late summer to escape the stifling heat of northern Mexico. Sports fishing activities increase in spring, especially for anglers hoping for record weight speckled trout, and continues throughout the summer. Summer family visitation corresponds to the schools' summer vacation period. Often, visitors are seen wearing camouflage clothing during the first two week-ends of September because many who hunt the Special Whitening Dove Season in Cameron County stay in Port Isabel lodging, partially to accommodate non-hunting family members. “Winter Texan Season” corresponds to “winter,” because many retirees spend that part of the year in the Laguna Madre Area and the other part of the year “back home.” The fall and spring bird migrations attract many birders to the area.

Visitor information The Port Isabel Visitor Center and the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce office are located in the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage museum (see below), located on the southeast corner of the Port Isabel Lighthouse Historical Site property. Hours: M-F 9AM-5PM; Saturday 10AM-4PM

History[edit]

Port Isabel highlights its proud history as an attraction for visitors. In addition to the Lighthouse State Historical Site, Port Isabel has three historical museums, nine state historical markers, and 21 sidewalk medallions highlighting notable generals who served here.

Native Americans of the Port Isabel area were members of the Eastern (coastal) Carrizo-Comecrudo Tribe of the Coahuiltecan people. Lipan Apaches often passed through on hunting and trading migrations and some splinter groups settled in the area during the late eighteenth century. Both have organizations in south Texas to preserve their heritage and language. There are several sites with surface artifacts of early peoples near Port Isabel, including an unmarked National Historic Site just southwest of the city.

Spanish explorer Francisco Gara sailed into the bay in 1523 and named it Brazos Santiago Pass, which is one of the oldest named sites in the United States.

In 1554, a treasure fleet wrecked on Padre Island about 30 mi (48 km) north of Port Isabel. Only one survivor reached safety at Tampico, Mexico. Port Isabel's Treasures of the Gulf Museum is dedicated to that event and the salvage from the ships.

During the War of 1812, the pirate and privateer Jean Laffite used the harbor as a hideaway and is said to have drawn water from a well in nearby Laguna Vista to restock his ships.

The new U.S. President James K. Polk sent General Zachary Taylor and his Army of Occupation to Port Isabel to start the U.S.-Mexican War. Port Isabel-Brazos Island harbor was a strategic asset for Mexico because it was the only safe harborage along nearly 300 mi (480 km) of the then Mexican coast. General Taylor established Fort Polk at Port Isabel on March 24, 1846, and used it as a supply base for his operations in Texas until 1850. During that period, several important U.S. officers who would eventually face each other in the Civil War served at Port Isabel. The second floor of the Port Isabel Historical Museum is devoted to the war.

The Port Isabel Lighthouse was completed in 1852, and by 1847 a third-order fresnel lens had been installed.

The lighthouse was used as a lookout post during the First Cortina War from 1859 to 1860, but the Cortinistas did not approach Port Isabel.

Port Isabel was again a haven for pirates and blockade runners during the early part of the Civil War. Port Isabel was occupied at one time or another by both the USA and CSA, and the lighthouse was used by each as a lookout post. A Union attack destroyed all the ships in the harbor in 1863, and the last battle of the war (Palmetto Hill) was launched from an encampment at nearby Brazos Island by Union soldiers.

The first railway in south Texas was began operation in 1872 between Port Isabel and Brownsville. This opened up an export market for the Port Isabel fishery. The new demand was met with the development of the extremely effective Port Isabel Scow-Sloop fishing system, which was eventually outlawed in the 1930s.

In 1916, the most powerful wireless transmission station in the world was built at Port Isabel. Among the reasons the station was built here was to facilitate communication with the operators of the newly completed Panama Canal, because of the intensifying border skirmishes with Pancho Villa, and because of growing expectation of the U.S. entering the First World War.

Some U.S. troops were stationed at Port Isabel during Pancho Villa’s bandit activities in 1916.

When the Missouri-Pacific Railroad reached Port Isabel in 1927, it opened up the town’s tourism and sports fishing industries. It also formed a catalyst for the formation of the Port Isabel Tarpon Rodeo (now the Texas International Fishing Tournament). With help of the railroad’s public relations department, the Tarpon Rodeo and the excellent fishing at Port Isabel became nationally known.

During the early part of the Second World War, German U-Boats were sinking ships in the Gulf of Mexico (eventually sinking 56), and there was an oil refinery at Port Isabel. Because of this, the U.S. Navy established lookouts along the coast, and a group of Port Isabel residents were enlisted into a militia and trained to respond against possible land intrusion by Germans.

Climate[edit]

Port Isabel has a semi-arid, Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm to hot summers. In winter, average highs are in the mid-70s F and lows in the mid-50s F (24°C and 13°C, respectively). Summer average highs are high-80s (30°C) and lows in to mid-70s (22°C).  Port Isabel’s coastal climate is typically two to five degrees warmer in the winters and cooler in the summers than even nearby communities. The summer temperature difference, supported by the cooling Gulf breeze, is noticeable a few miles out of town to visitors arriving by automobile. About 26" (66 cm) of rain is expect each year, with concentrations usually in September and secondarily in June. Throughout history, residents of surrounding areas have flocked to the coast in summers to escape the heat.

Because of the higher coastal humidity, people who find themselves blocked from the sea breeze during hot, late-summer days will very quickly feel their personal heat index rise. Port Isabel is breezy to windy most of the year. In fact, the Laguna Madre bay and nearby Brownsville Ship Channel are nationally famous among wind-surfers for strong sustained winds during the mid to late Spring.  For some other people, this period of never-ending, day and night, wind becomes tiring. During other months, the wind doesn’t begin to rise until mid-morning; the pleasant early light breeze is heaven for drift fishing across the shallow, clear, seagrass meadows. Steady wind across the long Gulf fetch provides the waves enjoyed most of the year by surfers on South Padre Island.

Port Isabel had a white Christmas in 2004. That was the first recorded snow in 109 years. Hard freezes occur only about once every fifteen years. However, wet, windy “northers” (cold fronts) can be more uncomfortable than below-zero weather for some people.  Most days during the winter are pleasant and this is highly predictable. In fact, some visitors and owners of second homes will book flights according to the national weather map, leaving home before a cold front arrives there and returning before it reaches Port Isabel.

Major hurricanes (Beulah, 1967; Allen, 1980; Gilbert, 1988; Dolly, 2008) impact Port Isabel about once every fifteen years. Minor hurricanes and tropical storms are more frequent and, although they interrupt vacations and impact the tourism industry, are not especially of concern to locals and some years the rain is welcomed. September is the peak month for tropical weather, followed by August.

Get in[edit]

Map of Port Isabel

By plane[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • Metro Connect Blue Line (Connects with Island Metro <see "Get Around"> across Highway 100 from HEB southeast of Church's Chicken), +1 956 681-3550. Provides service to Brownsville - South Padre Island Airport and connects in downtown Brownsville to routes extending to Harlingen and McAllen.
  • South Padre Shuttle, toll-free: +1 877 774-0050. Provides door-to-door, non-stop service to/from Harlingen International Airport. Per person, $35 (one-way); $50 (round trip)

By car[edit]

  • Highway 100 - This is generally the preferred highway access from the north. It connects to US Highway 77/83/69E about 13 mi (21 km) south of Harlingen. It is 30 mi (48 km) long and passes through the City of Los Fresnos and Village of Laguna Vista (6 mi (9.7 km) from Port Isabel).
  • Highway 48 - it is 23 mi (37 km) long and connects US Highway 77/83/69E in Brownsville to Port Isabel. It passes the Port of Brownsville and the Brownsville Shrimp docks and continues along the Browsville Ship Channel to join Highway 100 in Port Isabel. Two-mile long Minnesota Avenue (FM 313) connects the Brownsville - South Padre Island Airport to Highway 48.
  • FM-510- It is 24 mi (39 km) long and connects US Highway 77/83/69E just south of San Benito (Line M Road) to Highway 100 at Laguna Vista (6 mi (9.7 km) west of Port Isabel). It passes through Bayview.
  • Queen Isabella Causeway - It is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) long and connects South Padre Island to Port Isabel. The only bridge that connects them. It can be very busy on week-end afternoons during the summer and during Spring Break Texas Week.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

Ample parking is usually available at nearly all locations. Traffic is light to moderate most of the time, but Highway 100 through the city and across the causeway can be extremely slow during holidays and summer week-end afternoons. Rental car services are limited.

By bus[edit]

  • [dead link] Island Metro (formerly "The Wave.") (Connects with Metro Connect Blue Line service to Brownsville downtown and airport across TX-100 from H.E.B. supermarket.), +1 956 761-3864. Provides free rides on three different routes to multiple locations in Port Isabel and South Padre Island every half-hour from about 7AM to about 9PM, depending on location.

By foot or bicycle[edit]

The town is relatively small, so taking a bicycle would get you around most of the area within minutes. There is much to see and do in the few square blocks of the Lighthouse District. The Island Metro buses (free) make it convenient for visitors on foot to move between districts and to South Padre Island. Some Island Metro buses have bicycle racks. However, bicycle racks for parking bicycles are found at only few locations.

See[edit]

Museums[edit]

The Port Isabel Historical Museum Board administers three museum facilities: Lighthouse, Treasures of the Gulf Museum and Port Isabel Historical Museum. Combination tickets (all three sites) are $9 for adults, $7 for Seniors 55 yrs and older, and $4 for students with ID cards. There are discounted tickets for patrons interested in only one site. There is no admission charge for the Keeper’s Cottage.

  • Port Isabel Historical Museum, 317 E. Railroad Ave. (Just south of southwest corner of Lighthouse Square on Tarvana St.), +1 956 943-7602. Housed in the historic Key to the Gulf Champion Building built in 1899 as a dry goods store. The facade features the famous ‘fish mural’ painted in 1906. The first floor interprets Port Isabel history with interactive exhibits and video presentations. The second floor is dedicated to the U.S.-Mexican War with many locally salvaged artifacts.
  • Treasures of the Gulf Museum (Just east of southwest corner of Lighthouse Square on Queen Isabella Blvd. (TX-100) next door to Cameron County Insurance Company or via wooden walkway from parking area in rear shared with the event center and Port Isabel Historical Museum.), +1 956 943-7602. Last ticket sold at 3:30PM. Interprets three Spanish treasure ships that wrecked 30 mi (48 km) north of Port Isabel in 1554. They are brought to life with murals, artifacts and hands-on activities. Also featured is a Children’s Discovery Lab, Ship theater and Nautical Gift Shop.
  • 1 Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historical site. The Port Isabel Lighthouse was constructed in 1852. It was opened to the public in 1952 as a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state historical site. Lighthouse summer hours are Sunday-Thursday, 9AM-6PM (Saturday until 7PM). On Friday Movie Night (see in “Events”) it closes at 5PM. During the winter, the Lighthouse is open 10AM-5PM. Point Isabel Lighthouse (Q7208052) on Wikidata Point Isabel Light on Wikipedia
The Port Isabel Lighthouse
  • Lighthouse Keepers Cottage museum (On the southeast corner of Port Isabel Lighthouse State Historical Site.). Museum: M-F 9AM-5PM; Sa 10AM-4PM. In addition to interpretive exhibits, the Keeper’s Cottage houses the Port Isabel Visitors Center and the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. Free admission.

Other Museums and exhibits

  • Sea Life Center, 110 N Garcia St (East side of Lighthouse Square near causeway entrance), +1 956 299-1957. Popular tourist attraction featuring aquaria and touch tanks of various sea animals like turtles and starfish.
  • Laguna Madre Art Gallery, 403 East Maxan St. (North side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956-943-1407. Non-profit gallery and outlet for 21 local artists. Provides a venue for art education, workshops, demonstrations, and other fine art activities, including music, theatre, and dance.
  • 1 Doubleday Bar's Sports Memorabilia Collection, 402 TX-100 (North side of Highway 100 and one block east of White Sands Motel), +1 956 493-4992. Extensive collection of sports memorabilia. Original portraits of sports legends by owner, Manuel Hinojosa. Most portraits signed by the athlete. See separate listing in "Drink" section

Do[edit]

  • Lighthouse square. It is worth a half-day to stroll around the one-to-two block area of the lighthouse District, visiting the many small shops, cafes, ice cream parlors, bars, fishing pier, the shore at Al’s Restaurant, and the visitor center in the Lighthouse's Keeper's Cottage. Note the large metal medallions embedded in the sidewalks on corners that commemorate the US-Mexican War and Civil War generals who served at the fort that was once on this site. Add another couple of hours by visiting the Port Isabel Historical Museum and the Treasures of the Gulf Museum which are at the southwest corner of the Square.

Events[edit]

  • Longest Causeway Run and Fitness Walk, +1 956 943-2262, toll-free: +1-800-527-6102, . These cross-causeway events each include Texas Track and Field Certified 10K races and noncompetitive 5K fun “fitness walks." The causeway run and fitness walks have been held annually for more than thirty years and each event attracts over two thousand entrants. Administered by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce. Includes tee-shirt for first 1,000 registrants. Second Saturday in January and first Saturday in June annually. $30 run, $25 walk. Extra $5 late registration.
  • Texas International Fishing Tournament, +1 956 943-8438, . First weekend in August. The largest saltwater fishing tournament in Texas with more than 1,500 anglers each event. 2017 marks the 78th year of TIFT. There are both offshore and inshore divisions and TIFT prides itself in its family-oriented tradition. Registration is usually done in advance, but late registration begins on Wednesday night. Thursday is devoted to boat preparation and a Playday for juniors. Fishing is on Friday and Saturday. The awards ceremony is Sunday afternoon. Registration includes dinner parties on Friday and Saturday night.
  • World Championship Shrimp Cook-off, +1 956 943-2262, toll-free: +1-800-527-6102, . First Sunday in November annually in the parking area across from the Highway 48 approach to Port Isabel. 2017 marks the 24th year of the event. The skills of amateur and professional chefs from around the Valley are judged on appearance, aroma and taste of their specialty dishes. Live music is provided. Tickets are available for purchase of dishes. Organized by the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by area and Valley businesses and organizations. $10; 10 yrs & younger is $2; plus food tickets.
  • Lighthouse Establishment Cinema, +1 956 943-7602, . Every Friday night beginning at 9:30PM during June and July. Free, family-friendly movies are projected onto the lighthouse. Sponsored by the Museums of Port Isabel. Free.

Piers[edit]

  • 2 Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier, 501 Maxan (Pirate's Landing Plaza on northeast corner of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 943-7437. Fishing pier, tackle shop and bait stand. Oct-Mar: Su-W 7AM-2AM, Th-Sa 24 hrs. Apr-Sep: 24 hrs. Per 12 hours of fishing: $9/pole; senors $8/pole; spectators $2/each. Pole rental (inc. admission)--$18.

Boat tours and charters -- non-fishing[edit]

  • Fins to Feathers (Capts. George & Scarlet Colley), 500 South Point Dr. (Call), +1 956 299-0629, . Small group birding, dolphin watching and photography tours for education and conservation. 1.5 hr tour $25/person (e.g. dolphins); 2.5 hr tour $45/person (e.g. birding and photography). 4 person minimum or private tours at $100/couple.
  • Black Dragon Pirate Cruse, 501 E Maxan (Northeast corner of Lighthouse Square at Pirate’s Landing Plaza), +1 956-943-6283. A modern day replica of a 17th-century galleon. Pirates entertaining with Pirate stories, face painting, treasure hunt, water pistol battle, sword fighting, booty, music and loads of family fun for all ages. Available for purchase on the ship: sodas, snacks, beer, and wine.
  • Dolphin Docks, 510 E Queen Isabella Blvd (Southeast corner of Lighthouse Square. Immediately adjacent to the south side of the causeway entrance), +1 956 943-3185. Afternoon dolphin watch & marine ecology cruses (12:30PM-2PM. Adults $16), evening dolphin watch (adults $13. Sunset cruses May-Sept (adults $13), fireworks cruses. Children up to 2 years free, ages 3-12 $13. See also "Fishing trips."
  • Time for Sailing, +1 956 451-8113. Sailboat charters and classes. Two-hour to all-day trips.
  • 3 Bay Wind Sailing Charters, 1 Pompano Ave. public park and boat ramp, +1 956 867-1422. Stiletto 27' Catamaran. Sailing trips with and without swimming or snorkeling. For 2 people for two hours or Friday fireworks cruise $120. Half-day trips $200. See website for all day trips, dinner cruses, charges for additional people etc.

Fishing trips[edit]

Types of fishing trips. Head-boats are larger boats that charge by the person and take several to many fishermen and spectators. Inshore head boat mostly bottom fish for king-whiting and sand trout in and around the pass and the causeway area on half-day trips; these are the least inexpensive and most relaxing; some people take these just for the relaxing boat ride. Offshore head-boats are mostly all day, offshore trips bottom fishing over reefs for snapper.

For charters (fishing guides) the entire boat is chartered, Most of these have "six-pack" licenses restricted to a total of six passengers, including spectators and children; some serve fewer people per trip. Inshore charters are mostly half-day in the Laguna Madre targeting speckled trout, redfish, snook, and flounder; fishing is usually anchored or drifting with live bait under corks or by cast-and-retrieve artificial lures. Offshore charters are usually on somewhat larger boats with cabins. These troll (pull lures or baits) for surface fish such as mackerel, tuna, cobia, sailfish, and marlin. The listings below are for boats docked in Port Isabel. There are many others docked on South Padre Island.

  • Dolphin Docks, 510 E Queen Isabella Blvd (Southeast corner of Lighthouse Square. Immediately adjacent to the south side of the causeway entrance), +1 956 943-3185. Bay fishing head-boat trips on the double-deck 70' "Fish Tales". Offshore and tarpon charter trips (half day to overnight) on "Reel Madness." Four-hour morning bay fishing $20/person; three-hour afternoon bay fishing $18/person. Children 3-12 yrs $15/person. Spectators $10/person. Children 2 yrs and under free. Includes rod, reel, bait and tackle. See also "Boat Trips and Charters".
  • Buccaneer Bay Fishing (Northeast corner of Lighthouse Square at Pirate's Landing Fishing Pier), +1 956-943-6283. Inshore head-boat. Daily bay fishing trips: 8AM-noon, 2PM-5PM & 7PM-11PM. $25 fisherman, $15 spectator (prices vary seasonally).
  • Family Fun Fishing Adventures (Capt. Charley Quinn), +1 956 456-9414, . Bay fishing charters. All tackle and gear provided. 21' shallow draft boat. Successful guide for tournament fishing. Summer fishing instructor at junior high.
  • Poppn' Rodd Charters (Capt. Vere Wells) (Call. Associated with White Sands Marina.), +1 956 51-3483. Bay fishing charters. Life time, third generation local fishing guide. Successful tournament guide. Experienced fishermen and beginners. 58-hour trips. Maximum four people.
  • Austin Fishing Service (Capt. Lou Austin) (Call. Associated with White Sands Marina), toll-free: +1-800-943-6282, . Bay fishing charters. Bait and tackle furnished. Shallow water and family specialty. See web page for reports of recent trips.
  • Captain Gencho Fishing Service (Capt. Gencho Buitureira, Jr.), P.O Box 13003 (Call.), +1 956 345-8299. Bay fishing charters. 24' Carolina Skiff, roomy for up to 6 people. 5-8 hr trips. Bait and tackle provided. 26 years experience. Pronounced "Hencho."

Boat rentals[edit]

  • Go Fish Boat Rental, 418 TX-100 (White Sands Marina at entrance bridge), +1 956 533-7543. Must be born before 1993. Ask for Chente. Sliding scale from $100/1-hour to $400/8-hours.

Buy[edit]

Lighthouse Square[edit]

  • Thomas Gifts (North side of Lighthouse Square).
  • Laguna Madre Art Gallery (North side of Lighthouse Square). Non-profit gallery and outlet for 21 local artists. Original art work for sale. Post card prints of local art work. See main entry at “Museums”.
  • Tesori, 407 E Maxan St (North Side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 943-7281. Pricey boutique selling paintings, jewelry, scented candles and other accessories. Each piece of jewelry is hand-crafted from Venice, Italy.
  • Mercado Faro (North side of Lighthouse Square). Indoor flea market, gifts. About a half-dozen independent businesses. Jewelry, crafts, imports, geodes, rocks, and Misc.
  • Alchemaille Exploratorium (North side of Lighthouse Square). Chain mail creations.
  • Seas the Day, 421 E Maxan (North side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 203-3040. Thousands of stones to choose from: Larimar, Turquoise, Sonoran Sunrise, African Turquoise, Rhodochrosite, Lapiz Lazuli and Opals.
  • Art Sea Gallery and Goods, 423 E Maxan St (North Side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 943-3200. Gift shop selling beautiful outdoor lanterns and ceramics made in the shape of shells.
  • Welcome Abroad, 114 N Garcia St (East side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 943-4890. Shop selling a variety of decor for yachts. Photo post cards.
  • The Light House Lighting Center, 414 Queen Isabella (South side of Lighthouse Square on south side of Queen Isabella Blvd.), +1 956 943-9316. Home lighting fixtures and decor
  • [dead link] Indigo Art and Apparel, 412 E Queen Isabella, Ste B (South of Lighthouse Square on south side of Queen Isabella Blvd.), +1 956 943-7070, . Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5:00PM. Local clothing store selling accessories, colorful shirts and prints. Paintings surround the interior of the store.
  • The Rusty Pelican Antiques Market, 412 E Queen Isabella Blvd (South side of Lighthouse Square on south side of Queen Isabella Blvd.), +1 956 943-6889. The only antique store in town. Sells a variety of goods such as home decor, ceramics and furniture.
  • Coastal Winds, 406 E Queen Isabella Blvd (South side of Lighthouse Square on corner of Queen Isabella Blvd. and Tarnava St.), +1 956 943-1989. Specializes in custom-framing and sells handcrafted jewelry from around the world and unique chainsaw-carved pelicans in various sizes.
  • Deja Vu (Southwest corner of Lighthouse Square and one block south on Tarnava Street. Across from Port Isabel Historical Museum). Consignment apparel

Other locations[edit]

  • 1 Harris Sea Castle, 1014 TX-100, +1 956 943-3234. Extravagant castle-shaped souvenir store selling wind chimes, bracelets and other decor. Most of their inventory is influenced by the ocean theme.

Bait, tackle, boating supplies[edit]

There are several bait stands selling live bait along channels and associated with most public marinas in addition to these listings

  • 2 [dead link] Anglers Marine Center, 121 E Queen Isabella, +1 956 433-5425. Inshore and offshore boating and fishing supplies and tackle. Kayak supplies.
  • 3 Quick Stop, 51 Queen Isabella Blvd. (Southwest side of entry bridge on channel), +1 956 943-1159. Live, fresh dead and frozen bait. Fresh local seafood market. Fishing tackle. Fishing & boating apparel inc. Guy Harvey. Family owned and operated since 1983.
  • 4 The Bait Gallery, 423 TX-100 (Southeast side of entrance bridge across the street from channel and from White Sands), +1 956 943-9054. Open at 5:00AM. Live bait. $3.75-10.00.

Eat[edit]

Lighthouse Square[edit]

  • Will and Jack's Burger Shack & Beer Garden, 413 E Maxan St (North Side of Lighthouses Square), +1 956 640-7440. Very popular, rustic burger place. Outdoor space reflects a vintage environment. Street-side and patio dining. $6-10.
  • Pirate's Landing, 110 N Garcia St (Northwest corner of Lighthouse Square in Pirate’s Landing Plaza), +1 956 943-3663. F Sa 11AM-11PM; Su-Th 11AM-10PM. Pirate-themed restaurant serving sandwiches, seafood and steaks. Sits next to the ocean where a deck and pier are attached to each other. Visible sign "Welcome to Port Isabel" can be seen from the Causeway. A staple for tourists and locals. $11-20.
  • Krispy Krunchy Chicken, 501 E Maxan (North-East corner of Lighthouse Square in Pirate's Landing Plaza at pier), +1 956 943-7437. Fried Chicken w/biscuit and Combo -- 2 pc up to 25 pc. Family platters, Cajun tenders, Cajun fish 2-piece Mix or White Chicken Combo $7.29.
  • Davy Jones Ice Cream Locker (Lighthouse Square, east side). Ice Cream, sundays, splits, raspas (shaved ice). Ice cream cups and cones $3 scoop & $5 double. Order inside; tables in patio.
  • Dirty Al's at Pelican Station on the Bay, 201 S Garcia St (South-east corner of Lighthouse Square, one-half block south on Garcia St. Next to historic Queen Isabella Inn.), +1 956 943-3344. Serves primarily seafood and has a gulf side deck. Bar. Perfect for a weekend night. Wifi.
  • Causeway Cafe, 418 E Queen Isabella (Lighthouse Square, south side on corner of Queen Isabella Blvd. & Garcia), +1 956 433-5004. 9am - 5pm daily. Street-side, inside & patio dining. Lunch specials. Sandwiches ($8), wraps($5-$12), salads ($7-$12). Vegan & gluten-free options. Fresh pastries and desserts. Expresso, mocha, latte, etc. Craft beer on draft. Wifi.
  • Yogo Yogurt (Lighthouse District, south-west corner. Queen Isabella Blvd. at Tarnava St.). Yogurt, shakes, smoothies, raspas (shaved ice). Order and eat outside.
  • [dead link] Porky’s Pit (Lighthouse District, southwest corner on Queen Isabella Blvd., south side), +1 956 772-8143. Closed Sunday. Real Pit BBQ. BBQ Brisket, links, pulled pork, chopped beef, chicken. Entrees w/2 sm. sides ($10-$13), sandwiches ($7-$8) & by the pound ($7-$9). Wifi.
  • Marcellos Italian Restaurant & Bar on the Piazza, 110 N Tarnava St (West side of Lighthouse Square), +1 956 943-7611. Modest Italian eatery serving coastal entrees in a vintage layout. A local favorite. Attached, separate full bar. Wifi
  • The Chef House's Restaurant, 313 E Queen Isabella Blvd (One block west of lighthouse on Queen Isabella Blvd., north side), +1 956 943-7797. Dishes served with a creative touch. Primarily provides Mexican meals but has extended its cuisine to feature American and other types of meals.
  • Los Cabos, 309 E Queen Isabella Blvd, +1 956 943-3777. Mexican restaurant serving seafood, sandwiches and burgers.
  • Manuel's, 313 E Maxan St (One-half block west of lighthouse on Maxan St. next to City Hall), +1 956 943-1655. Small and popular Mexican food eatery known for its huge flour tortillas. Local family owned and operated. Cash only (but has an ATM inside). WiFi
  • Joe’s Oyster Bar, 207 E Maxan St (West of Lighthouse on Maxan St. across from Post Office), +1 956 943-4501. Shares half its building with Gulf Seafood Market. Serves seafood and also operates as a mini-mart. Local family owned and operated.

Other locations[edit]

  • 1 Los Tortugos Seafood Market, 1683 TX-100, +1 956 943-5602. Daily 9AM-6:30PM. Popular seafood eatery in a cozy, home-style setting. Blends traditional Mexican-style meals with seafood options. Local family owned and operated, including family fishing boat.
  • 2 El Papa's (Papa's Restaurant), 814 S Garcia St (Before arriving at the Causeway, turn left at S Garcia St and drive before reaching bridge that leads to Long Island.), +1 956 943-7133.
  • 3 [dead link] Tokyo Express, 100-206 Basin St, +1 956 433-5266. The only Japanese eatery in town. Serves traditional meals such as sushi, noodles, rice and chicken teriyaki. $8-10.
  • 4 J & Bubba's Bar & Grill, 201 N Musina St, +1 956 943-7240. Popular eatery serving Mexican meals, seafood and homemade-style foods. Has a pool and beer selection as well as live music on the weekends.

Drink[edit]

There are stand-alone bars at Al’s Pelican Station Restaurant (1/2 block south of Lighthouse on Garcia) and Marcello’s Italian Restaurant (west side of Lighthouse Square). Sip a tropical drink or craft beer on tap at street-side Causeway Cafe (southeast corner of Lighthouse Square). J & Bubba’s Bar and Grill (201 N Musina) is as much a bar as it is a restaurant.

  • Canon Bar (Lighthouse Square. On the dock area of Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier).
  • 1 Doubleday Bar of Champions, 402 TX-100, +1 956 943-4992. Popular sports bar with a spacious parking lot. Has a kids arcade room. Serves wings, nachos and burgers. See entry at “museums” for sports memorabilia display. Wifi
  • 2 Ernie's Roundup Bar and Grill, 823 S Garcia St (South on Garcia St. at foot of causeway. Half-block before Long Island Village swing bridge. Next to American Legion and across the street from Papa's Restaurant.), +1 956 943-7673, . Serves beer, provides a DJ during the weekends and has a home-feel atmosphere.Wifi
  • 3 American Legion Post 498, 819 S. Garcia (Turn south on Garcia St. at the foot of the causeway. It is on the east side of Garcia St. shortly before the bridge to Long Island Village.), +1 956 943-3666. Affordable beer, wine and setups. Public welcome. Pool tables. Especially popular during winter months, especially because it is right across the bridge from Long Island Village, which fills with winter visitors. During that period, bingo is held two nights a week, live music, Karaoke, covered dish suppers, etc. Wifi

Sleep[edit]

Connect[edit]

Cope[edit]

  • Port Isabel Animal Clinic, 421 E Railroad Ave (Southeast corner of Lighthouse Square behind Causeway Cafe on Garcia St.), +1 956 943-6022, . 7am-5pm M-F. Small animal clinic
  • 1 Port Isabel Health Clinic, 202 2nd Street (Across TX-100 from H.E.B. Grocery and Walgreens, next to Port Isla Inn, and across 2nd Street from Southernlands Home Center), +1 956 943-1774, . 9am - 5pm M-F; Closed Sat & Sun. Family practice medical clinic
  • 2 Port Isabel Medical Clinic, 1506 TX-100 (Behind "The Gym" across Queen Isabella Blvd (TX-100) from Wal-Mart at the street light), +1 956 943-6675, fax: +1 956 943-6864. 8:30am-6pm (Mon, Thur & Fri); 8:30am-9pm (Tues & Wed);8:30 am-12:30 pm (Sat); closed Sun.. Family practice medical clinic
  • 3 Boys and Girls Pediatric Clinic, 1710 TX-100 (In Las Plamas Mall across TX-100 from HEB. In middle of main building), +1 956 943-2600. 9am-6pm Mon-Fri; 9am-1pm Sat; closed Sun. Pediatric medical clinic

Go next[edit]

  • Brownsville is a 20-minute drive West of Port Isabel and is home to many museums, art galleries, Gladys Porter Zoo, Mitte Cultural District, great local restaurants, bars, hotels, many oxbow lakes, bike trails, palm trees, several battlefield museums and will be the site for the new SpaceX facility.
  • South Padre Island is a bridge away and offers a much vibrant scene, concerts, condominiums/hotels, beachfront restaurants, bars, Schlitterbahn Resort Waterpark, Gravity Park, dolphin watch, charter tours and splendid ocean views.
  • Matamoros is located directly across Brownsville. Generally considered safe to walk across the bridge to Garcia's Restaurant, bar & store. It is strongly recommended to go no further.
Routes through Port Isabel
Ends at I-69E.svgUS 77.svgUS 83.svgBrownsville  W Texas State Highway 48 E  End
Ends at I-69E.svgUS 77.svgUS 83.svg  W Texas Park Road 100 E  South Padre IslandEND


This city travel guide to Port Isabel is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.