PORT ARANSAS, Texas — There’s nothing like summer down on the Gulf Coast.
Port Aransas always welcomes Texans each year, especially after being dealt a heavy hit by Hurricane Harvey.
Businesses are back and the restaurants and bars of the beautiful island are prepared for those long days of summer, but there is one place that didn’t require any rebuilding because it’s been the same for a few thousand years. Rick Pratt has lived in Port A since the mid 70’s.
“These little strips of sand up and down the Texas coast are new geologically speaking,” Rick said. “Makes me feel young by comparison.”
Rick has a special place in his heart for a desolate island known in these parts as San Jose. Originally called Saint Joseph Island by Irish immigrants, you’ll hear this long peace of serene Texas beach referred too by both names.
The barrier island was bought by Sid Richardson in the 1930’s so technically the island itself is private but the beaches, they belong to Texans.
“In Texas, everything up to a mean high tide is public land,” Rick said.
People come to explore the island every day, and the only way to get here, a ferry ride from Port A. There no cars, no stores, no restaurants. Just a walkway leading you to the 21 miles of beach that anybody can traverse.
“The best thing to do here is turn off your phone or leave it at home. Now you are alone on a desert island. That’s an experience you can’t get anywhere else.”
Usually hundreds of yards separate the beach goers brave enough to head to a place we’re you literally need to bring everything you can think of with you. But the peaceful pace of having a beachfront bank all to yourself makes it worth it.
“My favorite part of this island, Saint Joseph San Jose, is that it is still pristine ecologically,” Rick said. “If we want to see what our islands should look like biologically, come over here.”
Cameron Pratt is Rick’s wife and an ecologist.
“I love it,” Cameron said. “It’s fabulous to see some place that is truly wild and native. … This whole island is full of life no matter where you look.”
She gets a kick out of the things on the beach most people don’t really realize.
“This is call sargassum weed, and it comes from the Sargasso Sea, which is south of the islands of Bermuda out in the Atlantic Ocean,” Cameron said. “It comes all the way from the Sargasso Sea through the Yucatan Straits into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually lands on our beach.”
Once you sort of get an understanding for how special this place in, it really sinks in how special San Jose is to southeast Texas. So if you’re looking to soak up the Texas sun and see what the surf looked like when La Salle sailed the Gulf, a stop at San Jose Island is well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“The fact that these little islands were alone against the sea and had to fight to survive, gives it a certain vibrancy that’s undeniable,” Rick said. “You can feel it when you walk on the beach. When you read the history it’s always right there in front of you. These people had to work hard and be very self sufficient to live here, and that’s a wonderful heritage.”