A Story More Than 350 Years in the Making
Once upon a time, South Padre Island was a beautiful, desolate place where native Karankawa Indians, migratory birds and sea turtles were the only residents. The Island was granted to Nicolás Ballí from King Carlos III of Spain in 1759 and later passed to Ballí’s grandson, Padre Jose Nicholas Ballí. Soon after, Padre Jose brought the first permanent settlers, establishing a church and teaching Christianity to the Karankawa Indians.
When Padre Ballí owned the Island, it was known as the Isla de Santiago. Due to the Padre’s reputation as a kind man, the people he ministered affectionately referred to the Island as La Isla Del Padre – Padre Island. While the Island has grown significantly since then, the sandy, white beaches and calm ocean waters still attract migratory birds and sea turtles, and the strong sense of community and acceptance Padre Ballí taught continues to live on today. That’s one of the many reasons why so many people choose to live on and visit South Padre Island every year.