SouthPadre Island . Need I say more? I will anyway. At 130 miles north-to-south, Padre Island is the longest barrier island in the world and the longest beach in the United States. It is named after Catholic Priest Jose Nicolas Balli (c.1770-1829). Padre Isalnd is steeped in history, starting with the native Indians as far back as 2700 B.C., Spanish explorers who were shipwrecked near the island in the 1500's, Father Balli and the tens of thousands of Spring Breakers of today. Padre Island is home to more than 600 species of plants and wildflowers as well as a gazillion types of waterfowl that nest and breed in Laguna Madre (Mother Lake). Padre Island National Seashore, dedicated April 8,1968 by Lady Bird Johnson, also plays an important role in the area, as its fine sand and shell fragment beaches have played host to almost a million tourists since 1992. When visiting Padre Island, there are all trappings of any tourist spot, including the Schlitterbahn Water Park, but one can also surf and find some of the salt water fishin' anywhere for speckled trout, snook, sharks, Spanish mackerel, redfish and tarpon. There you have it. Another damn fine reason that Texas is like a whole other country - Padre Island.