By: Alexandra Woodford
Upon crossing the Queen Isabella Causeway onto the tropical barrier island of South Padre, look right, and you will see the distant palm trees and iconic blue rotundas of the South Padre Island KOA Holiday. Location is everything, and this KOA boasts a prime spot on the island. A large portion of the campground is surrounded by water: one of the key elements we sought for our winter retreat. It affords direct access to Laguna Madre Bay and Dolphin Cove, which allows you to enjoy fishing and a variety of water sports.
Spending the majority of our year on the road, we have learned to rely on Kampgrounds of America. There are few options for RV parks on the Island, and the KOA was an easy choice. They typically have a host of amenities, friendly staff, and a dog park, which is a top priority on our checklist for choosing a basecamp. With three dogs in tow (two being bully breeds), it was especially important to us that this KOA did not have breed restrictions. All our welcome and this friendly attitude is felt throughout the campground and helped in making it our home away from home. Special attention is paid to everyone and everything to ensure that your experience is pleasant. From tent camping to fully furnished cabin rentals to long, 98’ 50amp RV sites, there are options for all types of campers.
Contrasting the campground’s tranquil blue and green colors are the bright yellow golf carts of the staff. It seems no matter where you look, there is someone in a yellow shirt driving around delivering packages, collecting fallen palms, or picking up trash bags and recycle. This KOA seems to pride itself on maintaining an impeccably clean and beautifully landscaped campground.
If you call enough time in advance, you may get lucky and secure yourself a premium site overlooking the bay with a private deck. It’s a perfect spot to watch the vibrant orange and pink hues of a classic South Padre Island sunset. If you don’t secure a private deck, you may join other campers on the community Sunset Deck, where you can comfortably watch from high-top patio chairs and tables.
Though some sites are spacious enough in length to fit a big rig, tow vehicle, and toy hauler, most have a narrow width, which encourages getting to know your neighbor. This KOA definitely has a neighborly feel to it with many repeat visitors. Seeing as the snowbirds arrive with intentions to stay awhile, there is an impressive calendar of on-site activities and special events. Zumba and Aqua Zumba are very popular, as are community barn fires and pot lucks.
No car in tow? No worries! A wonderful amenity is the free shuttle service offered by the Island Metro that runs every day 7am-9pm and conveniently stops at the KOA. If you prefer walking, you won’t need to go far to enjoy gulf coast shrimp, fried pickles, or a margarita at the on-site Pier 19 Restaurant & Bar. From the campground it is an easy stroll to the beach, restaurants, shops, and even dolphin cruise boats. Given the ideal location, there is plenty to do without ever entering your car: a stroll along the beach at sunrise or sunset, an afternoon lounging by the pool (which is open year round), or an evening socializing in the large hot tub.
You can imagine why campers choose to stay months at a time when it seems that every detail is carefully considered to make the SPI experience feel like an authentic vacation getaway.