We all know Texas has islands – after all, we’re right on the Gulf of Mexico. However, most of us have only heard of Galveston and South Padre, the two major tourist islands in the state. There are actually a few other lesser-known islands that are worth a visit for many reasons.
1. Ward Island
Ward Island, located directly off the coast of Corpus Christi, is popular among history buffs because of its importance during WWII. At the very beginning of the war, the uninhabited island was transformed into the Naval Air Technical Training Center, where technicians were trained in radar and other crucial electronic systems. The center closed in 1947 and the island is now home to Texas A&M's Corpus Christi branch, which is a beautiful campus that makes the land worth visiting in itself.
2. Mustang Island
Mustang Island (otherwise known as Port Aransas - it's the only established city on the island) is a popular spring break and summer vacation destination for a variety of reasons. The beaches are beautiful, fish are abundant in the water, and there's a resort village to make you feel like you're in a tropical paradise. Also, every April, Port Aransas hosts the annual Sand Fest, where you can watch as sculptors build elaborate sand castles to compete for a prize. You might even find some buried treasure if you're lucky - you did know the area used to be inhabited by pirates, right?
3. Pelican Island
Pelican Island, part of the city of Galveston, is home to Texas A&M Galveston and two Navy warship memorials, the USS Stewart and USS Cavalla. Both ships have been converted into museums open to the public as part of Seawolf Park. There are various other preserved war artifacts at the park as well, and it's definitely worth a visit.
4. Padre Island
Padre Island is the world's longest barrier island, and is known all over Texas for its turquoise waters and gleaming white sand. There's plenty to do on the island - Schlitterbahn waterpark, leisurely days at the beach, water sports...and if you come at the right time, you might witness the hatching of the adorable Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, the rarest species of sea turtle in the world.
5. Matagorda Island
Matagorda is Galveston's much less frequented sister island, so if you're looking for a relaxing beach day without being constantly surrounded by pesky tourists, this is the place for you. There are also numerous wildlife refuges on the island, so you might see some interesting endangered animals you've never seen before.
6. Galveston Island
And here we have it, folks: the most popular island in Texas by a long shot. The beaches may not compare to those of South Padre, but the plethora of tourist attractions definitely makes up for it. Between Schlitterbahn, Moody Gardens, Pleasure Pier, the historic Strand, the myriad delicious restaurants like Gaido's, and the gift shops on every corner, you're bound to find plenty for the whole family to enjoy.
Which of Texas’ islands is your favorite to visit? Share with us in the comments!