Padre Island is the largest of the Texas barrier islands as well as the world’s longest barrier island. It is part of the U.S. state of Texas. The island is located on Texas’ southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico and is famous for its white sandy beaches at the south end. The name of the island means Father in Spanish, after Father José Nicolás Ballí (c.1770-1829), who served as collector of finances for all the churches in the Rio Grande Valley and founded the first mission in present Cameron County. Padre Island is the second largest island by area in the contiguous United States, after Long Island. It is about long and 3 km wide, stretching from the city of Corpus Christi, in the north, to the resort community of South Padre Island in the south. The island is oriented north-south, with the Gulf of Mexico on the east, and Laguna Madre on the west. The island’s northern end connects to Mustang Island by roadway. The southern end of the island is separated from Brazos Island by the Brazos Santiago Pass. The town of South Padre Island is located on its southern end, but the island as a whole is sparsely populated. The central part of the island is preserved in a natural wild state as Padre Island National Seashore. Since 1964, the island has been divided by the artificial Port Mansfield Channel, and as a result, the terms “North Padre Island” and “South Padre Island” are often used to refer to the separate portions of the island. Padre Island is located in Cameron, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, and Willacy counties.
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