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My family has been visiting and exploring Port Aransas since 2004. I remember driving around town on my first visit to the island with my daughter as an infant, thinking this is such a quaint city by the sea and I want to explore it. Seeing the sunrise over the ocean in Port Aransas was on my bucket list.
So understanding why it has taken me 15 years of exploring around Port Aransas to finally wake up early enough to take in the sunrise over the south jetty is a mystery to me. Now that I have one south jetty sunrise forever ingrained in my memory, I can guarantee you there will be many more to come for me.
“The secret to a good morning is to watch the sunrise with an open heart.”
― Anthony T. Hincks
While it took some convincing to get my husband and teenagers to agree to an early 6am wake up time on a cool January morning in Port Aransas, they drug their sleepy selves to the Jeep and we set off down the beach toward the jetty. Once we ventured onto the rocks, the sunrise came quickly and magnificently.
The sky was clear, the colors were amazing and the experience was priceless.
I’d highly recommend rising early and catching the sunrise over the south jetty to anyone who visits Port Aransas, regardless of the time of year. These are my best tips for making it an awe-inspiring experience.
Arrive earlier than you think
Plan to arrive about 30 minutes before sunrise. I checked the Weather Channel app the night before to determine the correct time for the next morning’s sunrise in Port Aransas, and it was very accurate. In January, sunrise was a little before 7:00am.
Remember, the jetty is quite long and the time needed to drive down the beach, park and walk out a little ways on the jetty is always more than you’d expect (especially with young kids watching their steps among the rocks). So arrive early and give yourself plenty of time to take it all in.
Slip on good shoes
Wear comfortable, athletic or water shoes with good treads (my favorites are made by Keen). The jetty rocks in Port Aransas can be slick and slippery in some areas, so be sure that your shoes have a good grip where you’re stepping.
At a certain point about 1/4 of the way out, the flat sidewalk-like part of the jetty will end and the rest of the distance will be large rocks set in place. The jetty rocks will be uneven and likely wet from the waves and the humidity of the coast, so watch your step and hold onto your little one’s hands. This was about as far as we went to take our pictures, since it was so windy that morning. So if you walk out further, please use caution.
Since the jetty rocks can be uneven and possible slippery, I don’t recommend taking your dog out on the jetty for the sunrise. It’s pretty dark when you’re venturing out along the rocks, and dogs may easily lose their footing.
Wear something warm
Bring a jacket because it can get quite windy the further out you walk on the jetty (my favorite is by Columbia). A windbreaker is perfect for summer and fall mornings in Port Aransas, but I’d recommend a sweatshirt or warm fleece jacket for winter and spring mornings.
Capture the moment
Don’t forget to bring your good camera! The colors of the sunrise in Port Aransas are absolutely stunning on a clear morning, so be sure you capture every moment with your camera or phone. While you’re out there on the jetty, turn and look back at the island as the sun rises. The pink glow of the beach and sand dunes is a beautiful sight in the morning.
Since our decision to take in the sunrise was last-minute, I didn’t have my “good” DSLR camera with me at the time. These photos were taken with my iPhone X and unedited, and they turned out great. But I can imagine that if I had my better camera with me, the colors and clarity would be even better.
Prepare for the glare
An unexpected tip… Bring sunglasses. Believe it or not, you’ll want to have sunglasses with you for the sunrise (these are my favorite, and they come in 21 colors for $16 = awesome). Although you’ll be walking out there in the semi-dark morning, once the sun peeks above the horizon it is VERY bright since it’s at eye-level.
Our kids were surprised how bright the fiery yellow sun was as it peeked over the horizon! They wanted to watch the sun rise completely, but it was too bright to look at for very long. A simple pair of sunglasses would’ve been a huge help! Just be sure to take them off while walking back down the jetty to the beach to clearly watch your steps.
Go before you go
If you’re planning to experience the sunrise with children, my helpful tip is to be sure everyone uses the bathroom before you leave the house. As simple as it sounds, you don’t want to venture out that far on the jetty to wait for the sunrise, and have to turn back and head home to find a restroom. So you know, go before you go.
Or if you’re like me, you could travel with a portable potty seat for the littlest members of the family to use in a pinch. I can’t even count how many times this compact seat has come in handy for my toddler on trips to and from the beach. I also keep a few small 4-gallon trash bags to use with the travel potty and super-soft wet wipes in the car for those “Mom-I-gotta-go” emergencies.
Grab a post-sunrise breakfast
Now that the family is awake and the sun is up, you might as well grab a hot breakfast in town as you leave the beach. Some of our favorite Port Aransas breakfast spots include:
- Cancun Mexican Restaurant for breakfast tacos (they even have a drive-thru in the back), 1023 State Hwy. 361
- Coach’s Grill for huge pancakes (they also offer a small breakfast buffet), 717 Tarpon Street
- San Juan Taqueria for a larger breakfast appetite, 410 Cut Off Road
- Donut Palace for donuts to-go, 604 N. Alister Street
The next time you’re in Port Aransas, plan ahead the night before, set your alarm early and get out there to enjoy the amazing sunrise at the south jetty. It’s a peaceful experience over the ocean and truly a feast for the eyes.