8 Wonders of Port A
When 7 Wonders Aren’t Enough
You’ve heard of the seven wonders of the ancient world–all sweeping and impressive pillars of human achievement. Many a trip has been planned around checking those items off a bucket list. What you may not have heard of, however, are the Eight–yes, eight–Wonders of Port Aransas.
In the early 2000’s, a small group of dedicated Port Aransas historians collaborated on a list of Port Aransas’ most precious gems. They declared the “Eight Wonders of Port Aransas” to be the most unique points on the island, the ones that all citizens and visitors should see.
Included on the must-see tour is the Lydia Ann Lighthouse (formally the Aransas Pass Light Station), located on Harbor Island and only accessible by boat. The lighthouse is privately owned, so public tours are not available, but many of the kayak and boat tours will take you right past it to snap the perfect angle photo and cross it off your historical checklist.
The jetties are next up on the tour. North and south jetties mark the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. It took five attempts over 50 years to design the jetties in a way that would actually stop the southward movement of the pass, and the south jetty has since become one of the area’s fishing hotspots. Once the channel was controlled by the jetties in 1910, the city changed its name from Tarpon to Port Aransas.
Speaking of tarpon, the Tarpon Inn is third on the list of wonders. Built in 1886, the Tarpon Inn is the oldest surviving structure on Mustang Island. During the height of tarpon fishing, the Tarpon Inn played host to many fishermen with hopes of landing the silver king. The lobby walls of the hotel are covered with scales from tarpon caught by these early sports fishermen, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
A more modern wonder also makes the list, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, which was established in 1941 as a place for the advancement of marine science. UTMSI houses the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The Port Aransas Museum deserves to be a wonder as the ultimate showcase of Port A history. Step inside and learn or re-visit the island’s story through photos, exhibits, and movies.
Another favorite on the tour is Farley Boat Works. To best learn the history of this stop, step inside and see a pictorial history of the town’s dependence on the sea and the chronicle of the Farley family of boat builders as they became a prominent staple in the local fishing industry. For a lucky few, there are also a limited number of boat-building classes for those in the public interested in building their own skiff.
The Chapel on the Dunes can’t be omitted from this list. The Chapel–the oldest consecrated church on Mustang Island–is a symbol of the strength of faith demonstrated by the builder, Aline Carter. The Chapel on the Dunes is also a noteworthy place for memorials and celebrations.
And the final wonder on this eclectic list resides at a house on Ninth Street. Due to financial strains, the owner of the last Farley Boat hull sold it to a boat builder who planned to finish it. As life and luck would have it, though, he ended up using it as the roof for his workshop!
Want to take the self-guided Eight Wonders tour for yourself? Build out your bucket list itinerary using this map.