South Padre Island is a busy place. Located on the 26* latitude line, you might not be aware South Padre is roughly as far South as Miami. Being this far South means the weather stays warm in the winter, and tourists flock to this area in far South Texas to escape the cold. The ocean stays about 70-75* F in December, making it one of the only places in Texas that you can comfortably swim year round. There is a massive number of South Padre Island rentals available, from 1BR condos to huge beachfront mansions, and this guide should help you make an informed decision.
The sheer number of visitors to South Padre Island every year means there is going to be a plethora of tourist traps and areas to avoid. Just like any of the other mega tourist destinations on the Gulf Coast, you are going to run into junk shops, fly by night rental operators and dirtbag hotels marketed as high end properties. Distinguishing between what is a ripoff and what is a good deal is the key to having a fantastic South Padre vacation. With these tips you should be well equipped to get the best deal possible on a quality South Padre Island rental.
South Padre Resorts and Hotels to Avoid
We will start off our guide by listing the properties to 100% avoid at all costs. This is the most important thing on this guide, if you pick one of these places to stay you are going to have a bad trip, so please, please do not fall for a low rate with these resorts! Locals would tell you to avoid these resorts AT ALL COSTS.
Pearl South Padre: One of the most popular resorts on South Padre Island, Pearl is also one of the most awful rated. Coming in at a disappointing 3.5/5 with 2300+ Google reviews, avoid the Pearl. The biggest problem with the Pearl is it is marketed as a nice property, and it isn’t remotely on that level.
Blue Bay Inn and Suites: This 1 star resort doesn’t claim to be fancy, but even with 1 star expectations they can’t produce positive guest experiences. That should tell you enough. 3.4/5 with over 500 Google reviews.
WindWater Hotel and Marina: This place is a dump, don’t let a fresh coat of paint deceive you. Not much else to say, 3.2/5 with over 800 Google reviews.
South Padre Island Lodge: This EconoLodge property disgraces the EconoLodge name, and it takes a lot to do that. 2.8/5 with over 350 Google reviews.
The Best South Padre Islands Resorts and Hotels
Surprisingly, the 3 best South Padre Island resorts and hotels are all chains. If there is a chance to promote locally owned Resorts or Hotels we will gladly do it first. In this case, most of them are terrible. Stick with these chains:
Holiday Inn Express and Suites South Padre Island: I know what you are thinking, a Holiday Inn Express made the best list? It’s true. This 100 room South Padre resort is a both a fantastic value and an awesome resort. Just a short walk from the beach, the value here is unmatched. Believe it or not this is one of the top rated Holiday Inn’s in the entire United States.
Courtyard by Marriott South Padre Island: This resort is definitely a bit higher end than that Holiday Inn, which is reflected in the pricing. We love this resort for a mid range property that is higher end without breaking the bank.
Hilton Garden Inn South Padre Island: This Hilton property is a bit older than the Courtyard Marriott, but it is in a fantastic location. If there is availability at the first two resorts on this list I’d go there first, but book the Hilton before any other resorts on South Padre Island.
The Best South Padre Island House and Condo Rentals
By far our best “local’s” recommendation to South Padre is to skip the hotels and resorts and book a condo or house rental. It may be a bit outside your comfort zone, but after you’ve done it once you will wonder why it took so long to try it. If you’ve already taken the plunge into the world of VRBO rentals then you already know how great of a value these rentals can be. If you are traveling in a bigger group, it is almost always a much better deal to book a large condo or house than multiple hotel rooms. You can view all of the rentals available on VRBO here: South Padre Island VRBO Rentals
Best 1 Bedroom Beachfront Condo: This beautiful 5th floor beachfront South Padre Island condo is (in our opinion) the best on South Padre. It checks all the boxes: a great value, an awesome view, flawless reviews, and is beautifully furnished. You can’t go wrong with this South Padre rental condo. Check Rates and Availability of Chris’s 1BR South Padre Island Condo on VRBO.com
Best Affordable Beachfront South Padre Island House Rental: This is our favorite affordable beach house rental on South Padre Island. The 4 bedrooms in this rental allow it to sleep 12 comfortably. We like to break the price per night down to a per bedroom rate, which allows you to compare to booking multiple hotel rooms. When comparing prices this way you will see that this rental house is a great value. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in with a spotless 5.0/5.0 average review score with over 100 reviews either. Check Rates and Availability of the 4BR Sandpiper House on South Padre Island VRBO.com
Best Luxury Beachfront South Padre Island Mansion Rental: This massive South Padre Island mansion rental has one of the coolest pool setups on the island. This rental is quite a bit more expensive than the last house but it is massive and luxurious. You owe it to yourself to at least check out more pictures of this beautiful property. Check Rates and Availability of Tomina’s 5BR South Padre Mansion Rental on VRBO.com