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Point Isabel Lighthouse

Visiting Port Isabel's Historic Point Isabel Lighthouse


Point Isabel Lighthouse
Danno Wise
The "beacon" of the southern Texas coast in more ways than one, the Point Isabel Lighthouse is located in the tiny coastal community of Port Isabel, just across the Laguna Madre Bay from South Padre Island. During its active period, the Lighthouse guided mariners across the waters of the Laguna Madre and nearshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Today, it guides thousands of tourists, interested in getting a glimpse of Texas maritime history, to Port Isabel.

Built on a grassy bluff overlooking the Laguna Madre in 1852, the Point Isabel Light was first lit in 1853. The lighthouse itself is 57 feet tall, but the 25-foot high bluff it sits on gives it a total height of over 80 feet.

The Point Isabel Lighthouse was activated, deactivated and reactivated several times during its service period, including multiple times during the Civil War as it switched hands between the Confederacy and the Union troops in South Texas. However, in 1905 it was deactivated for good, although the government maintained the property for some two decades longer. After being bought and sold numerous times, the Point Isabel Lighthouse finally became the smallest state park in Texas in 1952. The Keeper's Cottage and other small out buildings were rebuilt to their original specifications in the late 90s, finalizing the restoration of this historic lighthouse.

Today, visitors to Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Brownsville or any other South Texas town, should stop by and pay the Lighthouse a visit. It is located just off Highway 100, near the base of the Queen Isabella Causeway, which connects Port Isabel to South Padre Island. Visitors unfamiliar with South Texas will find getting to the Lighthouse a snap. Simply take Interstate 77 South past the city of San Benito. Approximately 5 miles south of San Benito, take the South Padre Island/Highway 100 East exit. Follow Highway 100 East for approximately 21 miles and you will find yourself at the entrance of the Point Isabel Lighthouse State Historic Site.

Without a doubt, the Point Isabel Lighthouse, and the town of Port Isabel for that matter, is a "must visit" for any history buff. While in town, don't forget to make a stop by the Treasures of the Gulf Museum, located just across Highway 100 from the Lighthouse.

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