Standup paddleboards afford views unmatched by their made-for-sitting brethren, the kayak and canoe. But that’s only part of the reason Padre Paddle touts standup paddleboarding (SUP) lessons and rentals as its sole offering. SUP also works the core muscles and can be picked up by athletes of all ages and skill levels. To keep riders from sliding off into the open arms of an unwanted mermaid admirer the boards used at Padre Paddle are topped with a soft grip inspired by yoga mats. This surface is also handy for SUP yoga classes, which welcome students to hold poses atop the water about an hour before sunset.
The accommodating staff at Island Surf Shop and Kayaks rents out a large selection of beach buggies, skillfully coupling wayward beachcombers with a coast-exploring vehicle. Hop into your sand-flecked buggie to discover the dune-hugged beaches of Port Aransas, a town on the northern tip of Mustang Island, replete with brightly hued beach houses, trilling seabirds, and coin-operated sandcastle-building machines. Each one-hour rental outfits sandfaring customers in a shaded, four-seater golf cart fitted with oversized beach-ready tires. Rentals are subject to weather conditions, so plan your adventure on a day with a low chance of raindrops or gumdrops hailstorms.
Hugging the banks of the blue-green Medina River between its craggy bluffs, Paradise Canyon gives kayakers, fishers, and picnickers a breathtaking backdrop that echoes the sounds of falling water, rustling trees, and hooting owls. As summer readers laze atop a blanket along the shore, they can watch river riders drift past in tubes ($7 rental) or kayaks ($30 rental), or the saddled backs of freshwater mermaids. The canyon's abundant avian life will have bird watchers scrambling for their field guides, and umbrella-covered tables accommodate a family-sized picnic spread. Dedicated outdoorsfolk can also arrange to spend the day fly-fishing before retreating to a lantern-lit canvas tent for a night of s'mores and scary PowerPoint presentations. Otherwise, reserve Paradise Canyon's three-bedroom, four-bathroom log-cabin lodge and create a rustic setting for the next family reunion, wedding, or quilting retreat.