When people say they’re going to Corpus Christi to hit the beach, they’re often referring to adjacent Mustang Island. Located at the northern tip of Mustang Island is Port Aransas (or Port A, as it’s known locally), a charming little beach town with services catering to everyone from beach bums to big spenders.
Port Aransas’s (population 3,370) origins are traced to an English farmer who used the area as a sheep and cattle grazing station in the mid-1800s. Decades later, New Jersey entrepreneur Elihu Ropes attempted to organize a massive project to dredge a 30-foot shipping channel across Mustang Island to allow access to the deep waters of the gulf. He was ultimately unsuccessful in his quest, but his efforts resulted in the town briefly being named Ropesville in his honor.
By the mid–20th century, Port Aransas became synonymous with recreation, drawing tens of thousands of fishermen, swimmers, boaters, and beachcombers to its magnificent open beaches and charming seaside village atmosphere. The town’s population swelled from 824 residents in 1960 to several thousand by the end of the century.
As many as 20,000 vacationers descend on Port Aransas during peak periods, packing the island’s motels, cottages, beach houses, condos, resorts, seafood restaurants, tackle shops, and boutiques.
Getting to Port Aransas
The Port Aransas Ferry System provides free marine transportation service year-round at all hours of the day. The 15-minute ride connects Aransas with the mainland at Aransas Pass, north of Corpus Christi. There are six ferries in operation, each carrying up to 20 vehicles per trip. During the busy season, particularly holidays and some summer weekends, you may have to wait up to 30 or 45 minutes for a transport, but typically the wait is no longer than 5–10 minutes. For more information call 361/749-2850.
Or, if you have the time and interest, take the 24-hour ferry from nearby Aransas Pass. It’s well worth the effort. Look for dolphins behind the ferry as they tumble over each other in the bay snatching up fish in the boat’s wake.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition