Padre Island National Seashore
Beach Rules & Etiquette
Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times and do not always watch for approaching vehicles.
Slow down thru camps and even if you do not see anyone there is always people and kids about and they may step out into your path at the last moment.
The number of fishing poles is limited to 6 per person. You may have more than 6 fishing poles in your possession but what this rule is implying is that you can only actively use 6 rods per person at a time.
All fishing poles and lines will be maintained at the surf’s edge. The park’s definition of the surf’s edge is the water line. Officials from the park have stated that anyone who does not keep their rods at the water’s edge can and will be cited for the infraction and such a citation results in disqualification for a participant. Those fishermen that are using towers and such on top of vehicles will also have to keep their rods very near the waters edge. Parking a tower type of rod holding system away from the waters edge and expecting the traffic to drive under it will not be tolerated and will be issued a citation.
All areas of the Park are closed to spotlighting and certain artificial lights.
This includes: any spot lights, flood lights, homemade or purchased light poles with more than one light, or any type of lighting systems that would disrupt or affect the wildlife, (eg: birds, fish, mammals and turtles species) and the dark night sky. [36 CFR 2.2(e) & 2.10(c)]
The park has graciously agreed to allow the use of lights facing the water at night during the active portion of a fish battle to allow a safer process, lights must be extinguished after the process and cannot be on all night.
Determination: In accordance with NPS Management Policies 2006, the NPS strives to preserve natural ambient lightscapes, which are natural resources and values that exist in the absence of human caused light (NPS 2006c). The Seashore strives to limit the use of artificial outdoor lighting to that which is necessary for basic safety requirements. The National Seashore also strives to ensure that all outdoor lighting is shielded to the maximum extent possible, to keep light on the intended subject and out of the night sky.
This closure is intended to provide a measure of protection to all wildlife and fish species from persons who are otherwise engaged in unlawful wildlife activities. It is also intended to assure that the natural habits or activities of the wildlife and fish are not adversely affected while being artificially illuminated nor that animals be unduly harassed which may affect feeding, resting, or mating.
The proliferation of poor-quality outdoor lighting is the principle threat to the night sky. Reducing the number of oversized and multiple light systems will allow for activities focused on public enjoyment of dark skies.
General park rules are quiet time from 10pm to 6am. All noisy generators must be off during quiet hours. Reduced noise generators (Quiet generators) with operating dB below 60 may be used in isolated areas during quiet hours if not disturbing any other visitors or wildlife.
Padre Island National Seashore Section 4.21- Speed Limits (updated: September 11, 2021)
The following speed limits are established for the roads or routes indicated:
(1) Bird Island Basin (BIB) Campground Access Road: 35 MPH.
(2) BIB Boat Ramp Access Road and North Beach Access Road: 25 MPH.
(3) North Beach and South Beach from mile marker 0 to mile marker 2.5: 15 MPH year round.
(4) South Beach from mile marker 2.5 to Mansfield Channel: 25 MPH from the day after Labor Day to last day of February.
(5) South Beach from mile marker 0 to Mansfield Channel: 15 MPH from March 1st to Labor Day.
(6) Campgrounds: 5 MPH
Beaches are Texas public highways. Only street legal and licensed vehicles may be driven in the park. All Terrain Vehicles (ATV’s), UTV's, Go Carts, Golf Carts, and Dune Buggies are prohibited. Driving in dunes, grasslands or mudflats is prohibited. Drive with caution and strictly observe posted speed limits.
Obstructing or interfering with the normal flow of vehicle traffic on North Beach or South Beach by means of a rope, tape, ditch, sand berm, equipment or supplies, vehicles, RV, Motorcycles, or any other vehicle/object is prohibited, except in the event of an accident or other emergency. The park also defines a fisherman parking in the middle of the established road as interfering with the normal flow of traffic. Be aware of how you park and how traffic is going to be affected by your camp.
Licensed or Unlicensed ATVs, UTV’s, dune buggies, sand rails, golf carts, amphibious vehicles; and/or any other unlicensed, non-highway vehicles, are prohibited from being operated within the park.
Contraband, including illegal drugs, and other dangerous items (e.g., unexploded ordnance, hazardous waste, chemicals) found in the park are illegal to possess and shall be reported to a park ranger as soon as possible.
No dead fish or parts thereof may be left on any shore, beach, dock, or cleaning table. Fish waste left over from cleaning must be deposited in gulf waters or in the Laguna Madre. Do not leave used or unused bait sitting on the beach, dispose of it into the water as defined above.
Driftwood may be collected and used as firewood for beach or campfires. Ground campfires are permitted only east of the vegetated dunes on open sand areas along Gulf shore beaches that is open to camping as long as they are built where flames or embers cannot threaten or blow into the grasslands, equipment, or property. Wooden pallets and crates are prohibited from burning due to the abundance of nails that are left on beach. Additionally, refuse, household trash, petroleum products, and plastics shall not be burned. All fires will be extinguished prior to leaving the site
Collection of a reasonable amount (one five-gallon sized bucket) of unoccupied seashells is permitted for personal use. Commercial collecting of seashells is prohibited to ensure that seashells are available for recreational collecting and to prevent the ecosystem from being adversely affected. The collection of unoccupied seashells does not significantly affect wildlife, plant life, or other natural resources.
Zodiacs, Avon’s, and other soft hulled motorized vessels less than 12’ in length are permitted to launch on North Beach or on South Beach below the 5 Mile marker. All other gulf beaches are closed to launching motorized soft hulled motorized vessels. Hard hull motorized vessels are prohibited from launching into the Gulf of Mexico from all beaches within Padre Island National Seashore.
Remember we still have the privilege of driving and fishing on this wonderful beach but without efforts of everyone to appreciate and preserve our privilege it could be taken away. Take more out than you bring in and always be aware of the impact of your visit.