Beachcombing and Treasure Hunting
Padre Island Traders
& Beachcomber's Museum
Embarking on a Texas beach getaway for the weekend has long been a Texas tradition regardless what part of the state you call home. Literally thousands of Texans flock to the white sandy beaches of Padre Island every year - sometimes multiple times per year - to pitch their tents, set up their RVs or to simply sleep on the beach in order to get their periodic fix of sun, surf and sand.
But have you ever wondered while you're laying on your beach recliner soaking up those golden coastal rays and enjoying the warm Gulf breezes, just how many bare feet have imprinted the same sands back through the years. And not just contemporary times either, but times long past.
It's possible, given the Texas coasts' rich history, that you're standing in the footsteps of some former impressive visitors and natives. On these sun-soaked sands have stood fierce Karanakawa Indians, accused of being the only cannibalistic tribe in North America. Conquistadors wandered down these beaches too, as did French, English and Portuguese explorers.
And regardless whether or not historical figures of the past stood upon the same ground where you grilled your beach burgers last night or not, there is still evidence lying across the beach that hints of different cultures and distant lands. These treasures wash up on the beach and can include everything from sandollars, coconuts and sea beans to manmade artifacts like old coins, pieces of rope and clothing - just about everything imaginable.
Probably no one in Texas knows this better than Steve Hathcock and Kay Lay, South Padre Island's colorful beachcombing champions. Authors of books, articles and papers on the subject, the two proudly display much of their finest collection of things they have found on the beach down through the years at their unique and enterprising shop, Padre Island Traders and Beachcombers Museum, located centrally in South Padre Island. From ornate driftwood to Spanish Gold to Civil War relics to shells and other natural items from the sea, the shop and museum are packed full of enough interesting items to keep you busy browsing through the displays and shelfs inside the store for hours.
Steve is an avid historian, treasure hunter and storyteller and has authored the book "Behind the Third Dune," a look at some of his adventures (and misadventures) along the lower Texas coast. Kay is author of "Don't Pass The Beans," a book about the coveted sea beans and other natural artifacts that wash up on the shores of South Texas regularly. If you want to know about beachcombing, treasure hunting and the local history of Padre Island, you'd be hard pressed to find better resource guides to talk to before you make your trip.
And a visit to the Beachcombers Museum will leave you with a fresh idea of what to be on the look out for as you stroll down the deserted sands of Padre. A small area in the museum is dedicated to old books, ice cream and other refreshments and there are a couple of tables where you can enjoy a cup of imported coffee, glance through the book collection, or swap stories with the proprietors and other guests of the museum.
In fact, the island friendliness of the shop is one of the main reasons for its popularity. It's one of the best places where visitors and locals can mingle and interact and share stories and experiences.
For your next beach getaway, consider South Padre Island on the very southern Tip of Texas. It might be a little further away from home than you like, but the blue waters, white sands and Beachcomber's Museum will make the extra miles well worth your while.