Mustang Island

Described as "funky" and "fun" with an intimate air, Mustang Island is the true gem of the Texas Gulf coast. Situated in the center point of both fall and summer migrations, a Mustang Island vacation also means enjoying the best bird watching on the continent. Retail therapy doesn't get much better than the shopping adventures available in Mustang Island. Quirky shops, curious boutiques, a wide array of fishing gear, art galleries, and innumerable rare finds make this an exceptional shopping district. Mustang Island goes hand in hand with Port Aransas with the two interwoven geographically, creating one incredible destination.

Set between the Gulf of Mexico and Corpus Christi Bay, Mustang Island hotels reign in popularity and present an excellent location for seaside fun. In this area of southeast Texas, Mustang Island State Park is a major attraction. Almost 4,000 acres of stunning natural attributes draw thousands of annual visitors. Open since the late 1970s, Mustang Island beach includes five miles of silky sand edging the Gulf of Mexico. Kayaking, swimming, surfing, fishing, and other watersports also fill out seemingly endless days under the sun. Mountain biking, hiking, and ecological tours are also popular pastimes. There are plenty of Mustang Island hotels to choose from outside of the park allowing fast and easy access to the best outdoor recreation. The twenty-foot dunes are magnificent to see and add an almost otherworldly quality to the shores. They are the foundation of the park's complex ecosystem.

During a Mustang Island vacation there is a wealth of rich area history to explore. The earliest settlers known to Mustang Island beach and the surrounding area were the hunter-gatherer tribe called Karankawas. While they lived off of the plentiful mussels and other shellfish from the sea, they were also known to be cannibalistic and fiercely aggressive. The vigorous tribe lived near the shores of Mustang Island beach up until the nineteenth century, and disappeared from the area not long after discovery by Spanish explorers. The island was first entitled "Wild Horse Island," and then "Mustang Island." The word mustang comes from the Spanish word "mestenoes," meaning wild horses, imported in the 1800s by the Spanish.

Mustang Island hotels vary in size, price, and location. Anyone looking for lodging near the park will find many suitable choices within Port Aransas and the immediate area. There are a range of motels and hotels to choose from, including well-known chains such as Best Western, Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Travelodge where there are many excellent and affordable Texas vacation deals . With Mustang Island being one of the most popular vacation spots in Texas, there is also the option of a vacation rental. Private homes, small cottages, and seaside villas are all accommodation possibilities.

Anyone seeking direct access to Mustang Island beach should give beach camping a go in the state park. Plenty of excellent facilities complement the primitive yet beautiful campground with many sites directly on the beach. Whether choosing to stay in Port Aransas, or a little closer down the shore, the many nearby attractions offer fulfilling and exciting Mustang Island vacation opportunities. The Copano Bay fishing pier, Lake Corpus Christi State Park, and Padre Island National Seashore—as well as the area beaches and eclectic and relaxed community—present an ideal situation for enjoying great nightlife, special events, outdoor activities, and exceptional weather throughout much of the year.

Image: Earl Nottingham, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

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