There are Island itineraries, then there are SpaceX Island Itineraries. Because space launches are finicky things, it’s important to have a flexible itinerary that keeps you close to the action but gives you a chance to enjoy the best the Island has to offer. We recommend a minimum of three days on the Island to give you the best chance of catching the launch.
Here’s a sample three-day itinerary filled with great things to do to make the most of your rocket launch viewing experience. We are presuming, for planning purposes, that Day 2 is the scheduled launch day. Again, keep in mind you may miss a launch even with a three-day plan - some veteran launch watchers recommend planning your stay for at least a week.
Day 1 (non-launch Day)
- Have a hearty breakfast. Whether you opt for seafood grits at location or a killer omlet at Yummies, or a great stack of pancakes at Josephine’s Kitchen. In a pinch you could arrange for tacos to go.
- Get on the Bay. The SpaceX Boca Chica launch site is next to South Bay, part of Laguna Madre Bay, one of six hypersaline lagoons in the world. Hyper saline lagoons provide food and shelter to an amazing range of wildlife, despite being saltier than the ocean. Fishing guides are available to guide you through this beautiful bay, which is as shallow as 3.3 feet on average. Not interested in fishing? Laguna Madre Bay is worth exploring. Eighty percent of all the seagrass on the Texas Coast is along the bay, the bird watching is incredible, and it’s home to the only strain of high-salinity-adapted oysters in North America.
- Refuel with fresh seafood. There are dozens of great places to have a perfect light lunch but a few of our recommendations are Ceviche Ceviche, Dirty Al’s, or Mahi Nic’s.
- Scope out your viewing area. Stop by Isla Blanca Park, which offers some of the best viewing on the Island of the launch. Some of the best viewing is from the top floors of the Pearl or the Sapphire (check out lodging options here, ask for a room facing Boca Chica) Keep in mind large areas of Boca Chica and the surrounding waters are closed off for safety during launch windows. If you prefer, you could also drive over to Highway 48 and join the tailgate viewing crowds.
- Get some altitude. Do your part to test the winds with some kite flying and prepare to be astonished just how high you can fly. Granted it can’t compare with the reaches of Elon’s ships, but the steady Gulf winds of 8-12 mph make South Padre Island a favorite of kite fliers. Got a big group? Consider picking up a parafoil kite from B&S Kites.
- Dinner on the Bay. End the night with a delicious dinner at one of our great fine dining establishments like F&B, Liam’s Steakhouse, or Pier 19 or any of these great restaurants.
- Charge your phone and camera batteries! Be sure to plug in and relax as you plan for your rocket launch day.
Day 2 (Launch Day)
- Eat early. Most launches take place later in the day, so you can enjoy another great breakfast on the Island before heading out to your viewing area. If you have time to relax, then there’s only one place you should go - to the beach!
- Enjoy the beach. South Padre Island is home to the most beautiful and unspoiled beach in Texas. While Isla Blanca Park offers prime viewing of the launch site, make sure to take time to visit the north end of the Island for wild dunes, horseback riding, and solitude.
- Pack a picnic and head out to your preferred viewing location. Whether you’re viewing from the comfort of your balcony at your hotel or condo, or at Isla Blanca Park, or on the side of the road on Highway 48, keep in mind that delays happen. Stock up on food and water and get ready to watch the incredible power of a rocket launch. You can keep track of all the action on several websites and social media accounts [list].
- End the day with a sunset dinner cruise. Ka Motion and the Southern Wave offer sunset catamaran cruises, and there are a host of other cruise options that give you the perfect relaxing evening after an exciting day. You can even dine on board!
Day 3 (Bonus Day)
- Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Having completed your goal, enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the Island.
- Stroll the extensive boardwalks and view the wildlife. The South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary is a remarkable place for spotting the wide variety of birds who make their way to the Island throughout the year. Plus the center is home to many juvenile alligators and Big Padre, a former resident of a boat dock in Port Arthur.
- Meet the other great explorers - sea turtles at Sea Turtle, Inc. This world-renown rescue and rehabilitation facility is home to their own scientific wonder: Allison, the first sea turtle to successfully use a prosthesis.
- Fuel your inner rocket with a hearty meal from Bar Louie (try a craft burger) or Cap’n Roy’s (great blends of seafood and Mexican food).
- Explore the north end of the Island. Wild dunes and beautiful windswept beach are the perfect counterpoint to the noise and excitement of the launch. Consider a horseback ride or enjoy the zipline at the South Padre Island Adventure Park.
- Ride your own jet - Rent a jet ski and make some sub-sonic waves of your very own or take a lesson on kiteboarding - part surfing, part soaring - at ProKite.
- End the day with dinner and drinks and a gorgeous sunset. Three of our favorites are Painted Marlin, Long Board, and Parrot Eyes - and they often have live music.
Extending your stay? Check out a full list of our activities here for more things to explore and experience