Camping on the Beach: Our North Padre Island Story of Regret

North Padre Island, Texas

Our time in Texas was growing short and we hadn’t done anything fun there. Hubby found out about the baby sea turtle release just a few days before we were expected to report to station in Colorado, and it was on. We’d never seen anything like that before and were convinced that the three-year-old would eat it up. We were low on cash and decided that camping was the best way to make this happen. Camping on a beach in Texas in July. Brilliant.

We were so stoked that we, admittedly didn’t think this one through. We left in the late afternoon and arrived at the campsite around midnight. The beach was a windy place and the one lantern we had made it difficult to set up the tent in the pitch black. Once we did, however, we got a blow up mattress in that bad boy and laid back with a snoring three year old between us and stargazed until we couldn’t possibly keep our eyes open anymore. It was that breathtaking.

sunrise at North Padre Island, Texas

We were up before the sun. We drove from our campsite a little ways down the road to the nature center where the hatchlings would be released back into the wild. It’s one of the most stunning sunrises I’ve ever seen. As the vibrant pinks and oranges faded into the bright light of day, a large crowd of people gathered around the area marked for the release.

After ten minutes or so, tiny spider-like creatures started making their way toward us; it was difficult not to be overcome by all the adorable. The moment that had us all on the edge of our seats, however, was when the first little guy charged valiantly into the surf. He got absolutely pummeled by the waves, and he just kept pushing.

baby sea turtle release

Baby turtle after baby turtle went on like this and my husband and I stood watching in amazement as our bored three year old splashed about in the waves himself. Finally the release was finished, and it was truly a sight to behold. We headed back to our campsite where the real fun began.

Although completely exhausted and running on but a few hours of sleep, we put on those bathing suits and made our way to the water. We made sand castles, jumped over the waves, and kept an eye out for those nasty jelly fish. And then…. my son got pinched by a crab. His father laughed. His father got pinched by a crab. I walked into a school of beautiful silver fish and screamed like I was dying. (How was I supposed to know it wasn’t a jelly fish?)

It was the middle of the day and we were done with the beach.

boy watching baby sea turtle release

Our accommodations WERE the beach though. There was no escape. I don’t think you truly understand how deeply sand penetrates the confines of your bathing suit until you have to rinse your private parts out with a hose outdoors in front of your fellow campers. We swept out the tent. We got dressed sitting down. We were still covered in sand and swept the tent again.

Hot dogs on the fire was a fun way to end the day. Hubster and I were smart enough to bring the portable DVD player and a charger for the car, so a movie was ready to go as soon as the boy started showing signs of being sleepy. He cracked open a beer and I had some red wine in a Solo cup because it’s classy. Eventually, we fell asleep in the sand-infested tent as well.

dad and son cooking hot dogs

Although it was windy, it never quite cooled down at North Padre Island at night. We woke up sweaty and sandy once more. We spent the morning playing in the waves where my son was, yet again, pinched by a crab. The magical sunrises, the sounds of the surf, the cute little turtles—we were over it. We packed the car up and headed back up a day early. It was the best choice we had made all trip. (That’s if you don’t count the Whataburger we ate on the way home.)

Long and the short of it is that North Padre Island in Texas is an amazing place. I highly suggest you try to schedule a trip and make it for a baby sea turtle release. I would also suggest, though, that you find a comfy hotel that you can relax in after a much enjoyed day at the beach. One with air conditioning and a bathroom so you can clean out your crotch in private and to the fullest degree. The best way to enjoy a family vacation to the beach is by not camping on it.

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