Move over, Malibu—Louisiana has its own beachfront vacation destination. Grand Isle State Park is the Pelican State’s premier spot for weekend warriors looking to dip their toes in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters. It’s one of a small handful of Gulf-front beaches in the state, and the only one with a state park.
The park takes up the entire northeast end of Grand Isle, a village located in the heart of some of Louisiana’s most productive fisheries. It’s easy to find remote stretches of coastline, often with only a few beachcombers, crabbers and fishermen around. Thanks to south Louisiana’s warm climate, visitors can wade into the water most any time of year.
Here you’ll find abundant wildlife both above and below the waves. Every April, the nearby village celebrates the Grand Isle Migratory Bird Festival, and in July, the International Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo attracts thousands of anglers. You’ll likely see many of those same species within the park or in the offshore waters surrounding it.
A few words of advice: rip currents exist here, so keep close to shore and beware of high waves. Heed the signs that say where it’s OK (and not OK) to swim. Keep the wildlife in mind—stingrays and jellyfish are frequent visitors to Grand Isle—and please note that dogs are not allowed on the beach (sorry, Fido!).
Camping on the beach at Grand Isle State Park offers visitors the rare opportunity to fall asleep to the sounds of waves from the comfort of their sleeping bag. RV travelers also can get close to the beach in style, at sites that include barbecue grills.
Nearby attractions include the town of Grand Isle, where you’ll find kayak fishing outfitters, restaurants, dockside seafood sellers and, next to the Grand Isle Tourist Association’s headquarters in the middle of town, the Butterfly Dome. The Grand Isle Birding Trail also goes through the village.
Entrance fee: $3 per person; free for seniors age 62 and older, and children age 3 and younger. Make campsite reservations here.