South Padre Island offers excursions for anyone looking to get away for a quick or extended vacation. Located on the tropical tip of Texas, The Island is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay, and its only link to the mainland is the 2 1/2 mile Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge. The 34 mile-long barrier reef is about a 1/2 mile at its widest point and has about 5,000 inhabitants and about one million visitors annually. Streets are bustling with retail shops, resort hotels, condominium towers, restaurants and recreational activities. This little slip of land was initially named "Isla Blanca" or "White Sand" when it first charted in 1519 by Spanish explorer Alonzo de Pineda. In 1804, missionary priest Jose Nicholas Balli established the first settlement after the initial grant was made by Spain's King Charles IV. It was incorporated in 1973, and the bridge was completed a year later. The Island is a year-round vacation destination, because it enjoys a sub-tropical climate. Jacketless winters have an average temperature of 65 degrees; breezy summers have an average temperature of 82 degrees; and there is an average of 253 days of picturesque sunshine.