Right in the middle of the 300-plus mile Texas coastline sits a region known as the Coastal Bend. Anchored by Corpus Christi – the Sparkling City by the Sea – the Coastal Bend Region has become a mecca for beachgoing visitors to the Lone Star State. However, while Corpus is certainly the largest and best-known city in the area, it is the multitude of charming beach towns that really give the Coastal Bend Region its unique appeal. Together with Corpus Christi, the towns of Rockport, Port Aransas, Aransas Pass, Fulton, and Ingleside combine to make the Coastal Bend Region a dynamic vacation destination.
In many ways, Corpus Christi stands in contrast to the smaller surrounding towns. While Corpus is a substantial city, the others are sleepy towns and bergs. But, by combining the elements of each, and adding in the miles of beach and dozen local bays, visitors to the Coastal Bend Region can experience a truly unique vacation experience.
As the area’s anchor, Corpus Christi offers the most in the way of numbers of restaurants, hotels, and attractions. Corpus is actually like two cities in one, as a portion of the city is on the mainland while the other part is across the bay on Padre Island. Both sections of Corpus have their charm and offer visitors plenty of things to see and do. Both the mainland and island parts of Corpus are loaded with good hotels, condos and other vacation rentals. Each side also features a number of good restaurants.
Attractions and activities also abound on both sides. On the mainland, visitors will find popular attractions such as the Texas State Aquarium, USS Lexington, Selena Monument, and Whataburger Field – home to the minor league baseball Corpus Christi Hooks. Over on the island, Schlitterbahn Water Park and Treasure Island Golf & Games are both big draws. But, the biggest draw on the island side is, of course, the beaches. Padre Island National Seashore is located just south of the city limits, while Mustang Island State Park is just above the city.
The Surrounding Towns
Port Aransas shares Padre Island with the Island half of Corpus Christi and is located just to the north of Mustang Island State Park. While it is possible to reach Port Aransas by road via Corpus Christi, one of the main appeals to visiting Port A is the ferry boat ride across the Corpus Christi Channel which can be accessed by driving down State Highway 361 through the town of Aransas Pass (which will get to shortly). Something that cannot be reached by road is one of the area’s most popular stops -- San Jose Island.
The “St Joe Passenger Ferry & Jetty Boat” has several set departure times each day from Fishermen’s Wharf in Port A. This uninhabited island is popular among beachgoers, fishermen and birders alike. For those staying in Port Aransas, going to the beach, fishing, birding, kayaking, and shopping are the most popular activities. Port A also offers a number of great restaurants,
Back on the mainland across the Port A is Aransas Pass, where, as was mentioned earlier, visitors can catch the Port Aransas Ferry Boat. However, Aransas Pass offers quite a bit to do in its own right. Fishing, kayaking, and birding are popular among nature lovers visiting Aransas Pass. Those looking for nightlife often take a cruise aboard the Aransas Queen Casino Ship. The biggest draw to Aransas Pass, however, is the annual Shrimporee, which is held in early June each year. The town of Ingleside is situated right next to Aransas Pass.
Best known as the former home to a large naval base, Ingleside today is a sleepy town that offers visitors great access to fishing, boating, and paddling.
To the north of Aransas Pass/Ingleside is the Rockport/Fulton area. Although they are two separate towns, Rockport and Fulton are often billed together as a single destination. The Rockport-Fulton area is best known for good restaurants, quaint shops, and a thriving art scene. And, of course, like all Coastal Bend communities, Rockport and Fulton offer a good deal of outdoor recreational opportunities – primarily fishing, kayaking, and birding. In fact, during winter and spring, birding takes center stage as nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is home to a migrating flock of nearly 300 rare whooping cranes.
All in all, the Coastal Bend Region is an area tied together by its shared beaches and bays, but which offers visitors a myriad of experiences based on the various coastal communities that give the region its identity.