Port Isabel is one of the oldest cities in far South Texas. First charted by Spanish explorer Alonzo de Pineda in 1519, locals tell stories of pirates and treasures that are still buried on South Padre Island. Port Isabel boasts three world-class museums that bring the town's colorful history to life.
Port Isabel has a humid subtropical climate with long hot humid summers and brief mild winters. Temperatures in Port Isabel range from an average high of 29°C (84°F) from June through September and an average low of 15°C (60°F) in December and January. Rainfall in Port Isabel is generally low, peaking at about 15 centimeters (six inches) in September, but below five centimeters (two inches) the rest of the year. Humidity levels are high all year in Port Isabel, averaging 90%. Snow is extremely rare in Port Isabel.
The Point Isabel Lighthouse is located in the heart of Port Isabel. Open as weather permits every day of the year, the 21-meter (70-foot) tall tower treats visitors to a 26-kilometer (16-mile) panoramic view. Built in 1852 to protect vessels using the Brazos Santiago Pass, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1905. Tickets are available at any Port Isabel museum and the lighthouse. It is open in the summer from 9am until 6pm Monday through Thursday and from 9am until 7pm Friday through Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1 for students and children to four. Under four years of age, children are admitted free of charge. Combination tickets are also available for the lighthouse and the Port Isabel museums for $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $2 for students and children to four. Children under four years of age are admitted free but must be at least 96 centimeters (38 inches) tall to enter the lighthouse.
Fishermen flock to Port Isabel to enjoy the rich waters of the near-shore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Lower Laguna Madre. The Lower Laguna Madre gave up the State record trout in 2002. Redfish are abundant, as are flounder and a wide range of tropical species. The only fishable snook outside South Florida populate the Lower Laguna, as do other species like mangrove snapper, Spanish mackerel, gag grouper, and lookdowns. There is a resident population of juvenile tarpon at Port Isabel, offering the state's longest tarpon season. The Brazos Santiago Pass and Gulf of Mexico offer tarpon, kingfish, yellow fin and black fin tuna, red snapper, and many more species of billfish. Throughout the year, Port Isabel hosts several fishing tournaments, including the Texas International Fishing Tournament. Some tournaments are devoted to a single species, but all of the tournaments make for great family and fishing fun.
One of three great museums in Port Isabel, the Treasures of the Gulf Museum features 1554 Spanish shipwrecks. The three Spanish vessels sank about 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Port Isabel. The museum features artifacts, murals, and hands-on activities for all visitors. It also has a Children's Discovery Lab, a Ship Theatre, and the Nautical Gift Shop. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am until 4pm, but the last tickets are sold at 3:30pm. Tickets for the Port Isabel Treasures of the Gulf Museum are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1 for students and children to four. Children under four years of age are admitted free. Combination tickets for the lighthouse and museums are available as noted above.