Welcome to Louisiana's only inhabited barrier island! At the southern end of Highway 1, the seven magical miles of Grand Isle hold all the wonders that Louisiana nature can offer. Oleander and crepe myrtle, palms, ferns and windblown oak trees on Cheniere ridges welcome migrating birds in season. The marshes teem with aquatic life and water birds. On Grand Isle, time slows and the visitor can savor a unique Louisiana experience.
Europeans came to Grand Isle with Spanish land grants, and by the early 1800s, there were active sugar and cotton plantations. But it was as a recreation spot that Grand Isle gained fame, as visitors from nearby New Orleans enjoyed the breezes and seawater while staying in hotels. Writers Kate Chopin of "The Awakening" and Lafcadio Hearn of "Chita" both used the atmosphere of Grand Isle as a setting for nineteenth-century fiction. Today's visitors find a thriving seaside community with petroleum and seafood industries as well as everything the visiting sportsman, tourist or camper could want.
Voted one of the 52 Places to Go in 2020 by the NY Times.
“Now is the time to go, while the Gulf of Mexico still washes the sands of Grand Isle State Park under blue skies dotted with cotton-puff clouds, and roseate spoonbills still take flight in a flash of pink plumage in hushed bayous and marshes best experienced by kayak,” stated NY Times writer, Christopher Hall. “Bottlenose dolphins often frolic alongside the boat tours...which highlight the isle’s human and natural history and include a cruise-by of a vital pelican rookery, Queen Bess Island, where major habitat restoration wraps up in February 2020.”
The State of Louisiana maintains a mile of beachfront at Grand Isle State Park on the easternmost end of the island. The park looks out toward nearby Grand Terre island, once the lair of the legendary pirate (or smuggler, if you choose) Jean Lafitte and the site of the ruins of U.S. Army Fort Livingston. Grand Isle State Park has a 400-foot long public fishing pier with a nearby fish-cleaning station. State officials say that over 280 species of fish are known to live in the waters around this sandy spur. The camping area of the park can accommodate up to 100 families or groups with nearby bathhouses that include running water and an adjacent dump station. You can even pitch a tent and camp right on the beach!
Birding in Grand Isle
In addition to the great fishing, boating, crabbing and fun in the sun, Grand Isle hosts the Annual Migratory Birding Festival. Each spring enjoys migration on the island as you spot songbirds in oak-hackberry woods, shorebirds and waders on beaches and marshes. Free videos and birding trail maps are available. Fun for families as well as new and experienced birders. Click here for more information on this annual event.
Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge features saltwater marsh, coastal dunes, and beaches. The refuge property includes a tidal zone, natural and restored dunes, and an expanse of open area leading to a back bay, which is surrounded by mangrove and saltwater marsh habitat. It is located directly across Caminada Pass from Grand Isle.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries manages the refuge with several goals in mind, including providing access for recreation and educational opportunities, continuing to research the natural resources on the refuge, and restoring and protecting the species that live on the refuge as well as their habitat.
Only available by boat, Fort Livingston was a 19th-century coastal defense fort located on Grand Terre Island, directly east across Barataria Bay from the Coast Guard Station on Grand Isle. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historical Places on August 30, 1974. It is one of the largest coastal forts in Louisiana, and the only fort on the Gulf of Mexico in the state. It is a classic example of American coastal forts of the first half of the 19th century.
In the early 19th century, Grand Terre Island was home to pirates under the command of Captain Jean Lafitte. These pirates were forced to leave the island in 1814 so the U.S. government could build a coastal defense fort. This fort was also designed to control the entrance to Barataria Pass and guard New Orleans against naval attacks from the south of the city.
Today, the fort is in ruins and the island is home to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' Marine Laboratory. It is also part of a wave-protection project being conducted by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.
If you like being on the water, then Grand Isle is the place for you. Try kayaking, skateboarding, and even surfing. You can rent a surfboard and take lessons from Pontcha Surf Club. Go paddleboarding with Calypso Paddle Company. Like extreme sports? Try kiteboarding. Looking for something a bit more mellow? Rent skimboards, bicycles, floaties, and more from Island Adventure Rentals. Water sports abound on the island!
Life moves a little slower in Grand Isle. It's easy to leave the stress of day-to-day life behind, sink your toes in the sand, curl up with a nice beach read, and sip a cocktail. Or, bring the family, build sandcastles, and enjoy fresh seafood for dinner. Sit back and savor one of Grand Isle's spectacular sunsets.
Interested in renting a golf cart during your stay on Grand Isle? Check out the below rentals:
Island Gulf Carts, LLC: 985-665-7946/985-637-3177
Sea Shore Cart Rentals: 985-787-2968/337-278-2062
Geaux Grand Isle Golf Carts: 504-270-7513
Sharky’s Golf Cart & Jet Ski Rental: 985-677-2500
See all the fun in #GrandIsle!
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