Tuesday, July 19, 2016

10 Tips on how to have a blast in Port Aransas, TX

I write to you having just returned from my annual family reunion Port Aransas beach vacation for the 5th or 6th year in a row now.  We have the absolute best time getting together enjoying the sand and surf and the great company.  Since I am now feeling like Port Aransas is our vacation spot, I would like to impart upon you some tips for a successful and very fun getaway to Port Aransas. (Some of these links contain affiliates that help the site but don't cost you anything extra, thanks for your support!)

10.  Take the Ferry and Watch for Dolphins

There are two ways to get onto Mustang Island/Port Aransas.  You can come over the bridge from Corpus Christi, or you can take the ferry from Aransas Pass.  We take the ferry because it is the most direct route from Houston, but it is really fun and short.  You just wait in the line, and traffic directing ferry people tell you where to line up and guide you onto the ferry.  Then you can get out of your car, peer over the edge and see several dolphins following the ferries on their back and forth trips.  It is so cool!  The ferry ride literally takes about 10 minutes, but it is still pretty neat.  Be forewarned of long lines to get on the island Thursday evenings and Friday afternoon/evenings and Sunday mornings.  You can always drive around to Corpus if the wait is very long.
Pro tip: Check out the ferry wait times on Twitter:

9. Find an Excellent Crash Pad

Photo Credit:
Our group stays all over the island, but I can personally vouch for Coral Cay condominiums being pretty good.  They have a boardwalk that leads straight through the dunes onto the beach, and a place to hose yourself off when you come back in.  Rooms are always very comfortable, and have little kitchenettes for your convenience.  There are cheaper places to be had that aren't directly on the beach, so it depends on your preference.  Our family pretty much just makes breakfast in the condo then we hit the beach until well into the night and only come back to sleep and shower, so it is less important that our rooms be luxury.  Clean and comfortable is good enough for me!  
My cousins always stay at the historical Tarpon Inn and they love it.  There is also a pretty nice looking Holiday Inn on 11th street, which is right near the beach.
Cheapest option - bring your tent and camp on the beach - it is totally allowed!  
Check out Silver Sands Vacation Rentals, or for beach house and condo listings on the island!

8. Rent a Golf Cart

Being the laid back island town that is Port Aransas, you will see so many people cruising around town in the little gas powered golf carts.  They are so much fun and so easy to scoot around in, we always splurge for one.  They aren't the cheapest, at around $125-$150 per day, but I think they are pretty worth it.  We have used Coastal Ed's which was a great price and a nice clean and well running cart, and Texas Red's which was so convenient, they dropped off and picked up the cart from our condo.  So easy!
I would recommend carting to the beach if you aren't staying in a beachfront place, and it is great to drive the entire length of the Port Aransas coastline, to the souvenir shops, or to the local grocery store when you forget the 24 Hershey bars you bought for S'mores and left at home like an idiot.  (I did this.)  You also can save the $12 it costs to park your car on the beach - carts are already permitted.

7. Try Not to Forget Grocery Items
It never fails, I will forget something crucial every year.  There is a grocery store on the island.  It is called Port Aransas Family Center IGA.  I guess you just have to be in the know to know this is a grocery store.  I don't think what they are doing is technically price gouging, but you will pay a premium price for everything.  The store is cramped, and always very busy, and replacing 24 Hershey bars was approximately $25 when it was merely $16 in Houston.  I guess getting anything on an island is going to cost you, so double check when you are packing!  Paying a lot of extra money for stuff you already bought but left at home will cause you not have a blast on your Port Aransas getaway.

6. Beach Entertainment
It is nice and relaxing to plop in a chair under an umbrella and watch the water, but it might get boring after a while.  Even with 70+ people to talk to, we find that games and activities are essential to a fun beach time.
We will bring a game of Cornhole, Ladder Toss, a Bocce Ball set, a Volleyball/Badminton game.  Along with those we bring dominoes, playing cards, and Cards Against Humanity for the evening.
For in the water fun, there are all the floats, shovels and pails and boogie boards for the kiddos.  Oh, and kites.  For sure bring a kite.  (How cool is this one??!) Go ahead, try and be bored!

5. Beach Essentials/protection
You can't have a blast if you aren't comfortable, it is a scientific fact.  It is smart to protect yourself from the elements.  It can get really windy right on the water, so your umbrella is likely to turn up on itself.  Answer, pop up canopy tent.  Yes they are kind of pricey, but if you plan to go to the beach often, the cost per use is not so bad.  You probably have a neighbor with one, maybe see if you can borrow?
Some basic ones are like this, this and this.  The ones I really like are this, this and this.
Then of course, sunblock, hats, sunblock, and bug spray for the night.  Sometimes there are mosquitoes when the sun starts to set :\.
A proper chair is important.  Those little $10 camping chairs aren't the most comfortable after a while.  What about these??

Or these?!

I want that rocking chair.

4. Have a Camp Fire

If you can hang out in the hot hot sun all day into the evening, you should plan on a camp fire.  Just dig a hole, bring your wood and starters (and possibly something to block the wind while your are getting it going).  My mom and I are the queens of the S'mores at our gathering.  We have quite the efficient assembly line, and the kids and adults alike have a great time.  I have these, and they are fantastic.  Just be sure when you are done to put the fire out and bury the hot stuff!

3. Check out the Souvenir Spots
They are a lot of fun, and there are several of them all within walking distance from each other.  I could spend an hour trying on all the crazy hats and sunglasses!

2. Bring your Food A-Game
There are people who like to keep it simple and just make hotdogs on a grill and call it a day.  They might make PB&J in their condo with a bag of chips.

We are not those people.

We will eat hotdogs once or twice, don't get me wrong.  Then we grill pizzas, make bahn mi's, and lamb kebabs.  Last year, my brother roasted a whole pig on a spit.  That was a spectacle!  The food is like the second best part of the trip.  Stay tuned for a post regarding delectable grilled things to make on the beach, it will take you to Yum City (my Flavortown/Guy Fieri ripoff, lol)

Also we made about 200 jello shots and drank enough beer to fill a lake.  Gotta stay hydrated! ;)

1. Bring the Ones You Love
Because that goes without saying.  These memories will be with me a lifetime <3

Here are some highlights from our trip this year!

Everyone hanging out

Feeding the seagulls.  I got pooped on shortly after this! :(

 Cousins <3


My uncle created this...drink responsibly, people. 

Heather is blowing the whistle, time for another shot!

 You know what time it is.  This game is hilarious!

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