Port Isabel, Texas (Simple Travel Guide)

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Texas is a huge state that houses 1,462 cities and small towns, with over 30 million people calling it home. Although Port Isabel, Texas is a small city, it’s an attractive spot for visitors and retirees,  so here’s a quick guide that walks you through some of the city’s facts!

Port Isabel is a small city that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and is located in the southernmost county of Texas. The city has a sparse suburban feel with one of the smallest populations in the state. The beautiful and historic city features multiple attraction points that make it a great tourist destination for families and couples!

Port Isabel Lighthouse near South Parde Island TX. - Texas View

About Port Isabel

Port Isabel is a small city that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. The city belongs to the Matamoros–Brownsville and the Brownsville–Harlingen–Raymondville metropolitan areas.

Despite being a relatively small city, Port Isabel is relatively old. The first communities of the area date back to the 1830s. At that time, the community was called “El Frontón de Santa Isabel”.

The name was later changed to “Point Isabel” in Spanish, but the name was changed to its English counterpart when a post office was established in 1845.

The name was changed again to “Port Isabel” before the civil war because the city was a popular port for exporting cotton.

Facts About Port Isabel

  • Location: 26.0734° N, 97.2086° W – 367 miles south of Austin
  • County: Cameron County
  • Towns: Laguna Heights – City Center
  • Land Area: 6.79 square mile
  • Zip codes: 78521 – 78578
  • Population: 5,032 (2022) – 741.50 people per square mile
  • Crime rate: 17.09 per 1,000 residents (1.7%)
  • Average Temperature June: 78 °F to 89 °F
  • Average Temperature January: 55 °F to 69 °F
  • Universities: No Universities in the city
  • Airports: Port Isabel-Cameron County Airport (PIL)
  • Best hotels: Casa Rosa Inn – Southwind Inn – White Sands Restaurant & Bar Motel & Marina – Port Isla Inn – Long Island Village Units
  • Best Restaurants: Pirate’s Landing – Taco Palenque Morrison – Joe’s Oyster Bar – Dirty Al’s at Pelican Station – Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits
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What Is Port Isabel Known for?

The most popular landmark of Port Isabel is the Port Isabel Lighthouse, which was established back in 1852 as a beacon to guide ships to the city.

Although the city doesn’t have an actual beach, it still boasts a huge variety of wildlife attractions, including fishing cruise dolphin sighting spots, several museums and resort inns, and restaurants, making it a brilliant tourist attraction!

People From Port Isabel

Port Isabel is one of the cities in Texas where Hispanic and Latino communities make up the vast majority of the population. According to the latest racial composition census data, there are 4,028 individuals that identify as Latinos in the city, making up over 80.11% of the entire city population.

The median age of Port Isabel’s population is 37.5, and the median income of the city is around $33,895. According to recent polls, the city’s residents are liberal-leaning

The white population comes second with only 907 individuals in the same census data report, which makes up 18.04%. Other races, including natives, African Americans, Asians, and others make up only 1.85% of the city’s population.

Port Isabel bridge. - Texas View

Where is Port Isabel?

Let’s have a quick look at the location of Port Isabel, so you can find out more about the city:

Nearby Locations

  • South Padre Island
  • Brownsville
  • McAllen
  • Alamo
  • San Juan
  • San Benito
  • Harlingen
  • Mercedes
  • Raymondville
  • Weslaco
  • Donna

The nearest town to Port Isabel is South Padre Island, which is a small island town that belongs to the same county, standing 5 miles away from Port Isabel.

Other towns that are also close to Port Isabel are Rancho Viejo and San Benito, which are 22 miles and 30 far from Port Isabel.

Port Isabel is 366.4 miles away from Austin, which takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes to reach by car or more with stops.

Layout of Port Isabel

Port Isabel’s layout is well planned for a relatively small community. The city also has multiple man-made channels, gulfs, and piers.

The Queen Isabella Causeway and the Brownsville-Port Isabel Highways are the main roads connecting the city with nearby towns and cities, including South Padre Island.

Areas in Port Isabel

Since the city is quite small, Port Isabel is divided into two main parts: the City Center and Laguna Heights. Since the city overlooks the Gulf of Mexico on the east, the most desired neighborhoods and areas for residency are usually in the city’s eastern part.

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The median house price in the city is around $146,587, which is significantly lower than the US Average. However, the western parts are usually even more affordable!

Getting About Port Isabel

On Foot

The urban region of the city is remarkably small and interconnected, which makes the city center accessible on foot.

Ideally, you can cross the entire city within 30 to 40 minutes on foot. This means that you can easily rely on bikes to run errands within 5 to 10 minutes.

Public Transport

Public transport in Port Isabel is fairly limited but is quite accessible. While there are no subway and train stations, there are plenty of bus stops and public transit services as well as taxis to get around.

The prices are also quite low due to the small distance of trips and light traffic most of the day.


Although Port Isabel is not a car-dependent city and you can easily use public transport to get about, having a car makes your daily trips and communities much more convenient, especially in the wet season.

Ideally, an average trip across a small city takes as little as 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your destination and the time of day.

What to Do in Port Isabel

There are plenty of things that you can do in Port Isabel. Let’s briefly overview the top 5 things to enjoy during your visit!

1. Port Isabel Lighthouse

The lighthouse today is the only Gulf lighthouse that is still open to the public since 1952. The lighthouse is currently considered a historic site by the Texas Historical Commission and has its own visitors center.

2. Fishing

The city’s pier is an angler’s paradise with tons of fish species that swim in the Gulf of Mexico and tons of guides and companies that offer everything you need to enjoy this activity.

3. Historical Field Trips

Port Isabel is nearly 200 years old, and while the legacy of the city is evident on every corner, there are plenty of historical exhibitions that showcase several relics of history, such as the Port Isabel Historical Museum

The American Civil War 1865: Last Civil War - Lone Star Conclusion

4. Go Shopping

Port Isabel has a unique flea market with so many vendors where you can buy a huge variety of items and memorabilia.

5. Enjoy a Pirate-Themed Cruise

There are plenty of boat tour and cruise companies that you can find in Port Isabel. These cruises involve a lot of fun activities for all ages, making them an excellent choice for families!

Port Isabel Community. - Texas View

Where to Eat in Port Isabel

Port Isabel has plenty of restaurants for a small town. The most popular meals are seafood dishes, Tex-Mex, Latino-Texas cuisine, and more!

The top restaurants in Port Isabel are Pirate’s Landing, Taco Palenque Morrison, Joe’s Oyster Bar, and Marcello’s Ocean Grille & Spirits.

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Where to Stay in Port Isabel

Inns, resorts, and small motels are the most common spots to consider during your visit. This includes Casa Rosa Inn, White Sands Motel, and Southwind Inn.

Additionally, you can consider the various village units across the Long Island area, which are quite affordable.

Port Isabel FAQs

Is Port Isabel a good place to live?

Living in Port Isabel is ideal for those who enjoy the sparse suburban feel of small towns. Most residents in the city own their own, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars to hang out.
The city is also an attractive spot for retirees because of the city’s affordability and ease of getting around. Although the city doesn’t have a major university, education levels in public schools are pretty high.

Is Port Isabel safe?

As a small town with an economy heavily reliant on tourism, Port Isabel is a decently safe city with a relatively low crime rate much lower than the average crime rate in Texas.
According to reports, Port Isabel is 67% safer than the national average regarding violent crimes, making it an excellent place to stop by for all kinds of visitors, especially tourists from nearby cities and states.

Is Port Isabel worth visiting?

Port Isabel is definitely worth visiting, as it’s considered an excellent coastal gateway that gives you access to a historic pier as well as a great view of the Gulf of Mexico!
It’s also one of the oldest cities in South Texas, which makes it an amazing spot if you’re into history tourism. The city is ideal for solo visitors as well as families with kids, as it has all kinds of tropical and educational fun to offer!


Author Profile

Christian Linden is a seasoned writer and contributor at Texas View, specializing in topics that resonate with the Texan community. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Christian brings a wealth of knowledge in local politics, culture, and lifestyle. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Texas. When he's not writing, Christian enjoys spending weekends traveling across Texas with his family, exploring everything from bustling cities to serene landscapes.

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