South Padre Island Gay Scene - Splash South Padre Island Party 2016

••• The historic Port Isabel Lighthouse greets visitors as they proceed across the causeway to South Padre Island. photo by Andrew Collins

There isn't a major gay resort destination on America's Gulf of Mexico shoreline, which isn't terribly surprising given the generally conservative attitudes of residents living between the Florida and Texas gulf coasts. But a few spots have begun gaining a following over the years, among them Pensacola, Florida (famed for its gay Memorial Day festivities each May) and Galveston Island. More recently, the pristine barrier beach of South Padre Island - at the very southern tip of the Texas Gulf Coast - has started attracting increasing numbers of gay weekenders and visitors, especially during its gay spring party weekend, Splash South Padre Island, which is held over a weekend in late April, and then again in the fall - the upcoming dates are October 6–9, 2016.

The gay Upper Deck Hotel and Bar (120 E. Atol St., 956-761-5953), which reopened last year, is the official Splash South Padre Island host property for this year, and they are currently offering special Splash rates.

The fun includes a Thursday night (Oct. 6) welcome party; a Friday luau pool celebration, T-dance, and evening party; a Saturday foam pool party (and also a beach party at the end of Atol Street), t-dance, and Spash Padre Island Party Cruise (in the evening), and Pink and Purple Ball at Louie's Backyard; and a farewell party on Sunday.

Here's a full schedule of events at the most recent Splash Padre Island.

In addition to the host Upper Deck Hotel, Splash South Padre Island guests might want to consider the following gay-friendly lodging options, including South Padre Beach Houses & Condos, the Travelodge, the Inn at South Padre Island, and Suites at Sunchase, all of which are good budget options any time of year.

For nightlife, again, South Padre has no gay-specific clubs. However, events during Splash South Padre Island take place at several spots around town, notably the popular seafood restaurant Louie's Backyard (2305 Laguna Dr.), a gay-friendly spot on the bay.

South Padre Island Gay Resources

Padre Island has become famous as a major spring break destination, but it also has a number of interesting festivals and events throughout the year, including the South Padre International Music Festival in November, the Texas State Surfing Championship in April, a film festival in August, and a variety of sports and cultural events.

The island is 40 minutes northeast of Brownsville-South Padre Airport, which has numerous flights each day from Houston, and an hour from Rio Grande Valley International Airport in Harlingen, which is served by Southweset Airlines, United, and Delta with direct flights from a number of major cities. The island is a 4.5-hour drive south of San Antonio, and a 6-hour drive south of Houston.