Climbing to the top of Point Isabel’s lighthouse won’t be scratched off anyone’s bucket list anytime soon. Many will have to wait until after its restoration is complete near the end of February.
“Climbing the winding and steep lighthouse stairs to the top is one of the ‘must-do’ items for every visitor to our area, and we get people who come back time and time again,” said Jared Hockema, Port Isabel city administrator.
“The lighthouse is also the anchor of our lighthouse square, which has many unique shops and restaurants, as well as the Visitors Center and activities, such as the Marine Life Center.”
The restoration project began on Oct. 31.
The historic Port Isabel Lighthouse is undergoing renovations by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The project includes maintenance and restoration inside and outside the 1853 structure, weather permitting.
Hockema said TPWD is refinishing the exterior of the lighthouse, and is also replacing the exterior railing. “We are currently waiting on an update from TPWD on the construction status,” Hockema said.
The lighthouse is Port Isabel’s most iconic feature, and a witness to South Texas history.
Today, the lighthouse is a beacon to visitors, drawing them to the city and the view of the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway. “The city of Port Isabel greatly appreciates the assistance of Texas Parks and Wildlife in maintaining the lighthouse,” Hockema said. “Our lighthouse square is the smallest state park in Texas, and the city has a great partnership with TPWD.”
The Lighthouse Keepers Cottage, which houses the Visitors Center and the Port Isabel Chamber of Commerce, will remain open. Visitors may take advantage of the lighthouse artifacts on display in the Keepers Cottage, browse the information displays or buy tickets to the Treasures of the Gulf Museum and the Port Isabel Historical Museum.
Of the 16 lighthouses originally constructed along the Texas coast, Port Isabel is the only one open to the public. It stands 50 feet above the ground, and it is popular with photographers and other visitors, because they can enjoy great views of South Padre Island and the beaches. Families and friends have climbed the 75 winding steps, to experience a bird’s-eye view from the top of the tower. “We are very excited to have the lighthouse open again soon, and invite everyone to come visit,” Hockema said.
By RAUL GARCIA Staff writer