Lounge in the sun on Grand Isle's beautiful Gulf Coast beaches. Beaches near New Orleans

Journey to Grand Isle Beach

Pack your fishing pole and birding binoculars for this simple beach getaway that offers a chance to escape from it all in the splendor of Louisiana's outdoors.

Outdoor activities birding in grand isle louisiana

Sea birds migrate to the Grand Isle area.


Play at the beautiful beaches along Grand Isle State Park.

Exploring Grand Isle State Park

There’s a solitary strip of road that cuts a path through the marsh and black mangroves to connect a traveler between Louisiana’s mainland and the state’s only inhabited barrier island. Grand Isle is the end of the road for Louisiana Highway 1, and it’s arguably one of the most dramatic locations along the 436-mile-long highway.

It’s here that you can roll down the windows to breathe in the salty air, venture over a sand dune to take in the views of endless Gulf waves. Tourists aren’t drawn here for the extravagant condos and silky white sand that belong to Florida’s beaches. Visitors come to Grand Isle to experience life at its simplest and purest form.

Start your journey at the island’s far end at Grand Isle State Park, where you’re likely to find more people fishing off the pier than sunbathing on the sand. The beach here reflects the various elements at work in nature. The sand appears weathered by the sun and waves continuously beating on the shore. It’s not uncommon to find rows of shells washed up alongside a sun-bleached, three-foot skeleton of a fish.

Grand Isle Camping & Lodging

The family-friendly park allows tent camping on the beach, so you can fall asleep under the multitude of stars to the peaceful sounds of the sea. You’ll wake to the sight of porpoises breaking the water’s surface, sending a morning greeting to the pelicans skimming through the air above them. If sleeping in a tent on the sand is a little too rustic, RV camping is available, or you can stay in a motel or rent one of the many available island camps and cabins nearby. Either way, it’s worth staying the night so you can get up early to cast a line in the waters.

Grand Isle Fishing

On an island where fishing is a livelihood to locals, the options are endless. Grand Isle boasts 280 species of fish, and you can catch them from almost any spot on or off the island. There are two major piers — one at the state park and one known as the “Old Fishing Bridge” next to the Caminada Bridge. There are more than 30 charter fishing companies, several marinas, bait shops and even kayak rentals. 

You can fish day or night, right off the beach or from a boat bobbing in the waves. If you’re curious where they are biting today, ask a local — who not only will know, but will happily share with you expert advice. You can even compete against fellow anglers in dozens of fishing rodeos, including the nation’s oldest — the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo. There are also several restaurants along the main road or you can pick up fresh fish, shrimp or crabs from marinas and local fishermen.

When visiting in the spring, you’ll share the island with another frequent tourist — thousands of migrating birds. The Nature Conservancy maintains nature hikes through the island’s last remaining stand of oak-hackberry forest, where the birds tend to congregate when in town. The annual spring Migratory Bird Festival celebrates the feathered friends’ arrival. Another prime location for bird watching is Queen Bess Island, a nesting site home to hundreds of pelicans and the brilliantly pink roseate spoonbills. Visit Louisiana Birding and find birding opportunities all along the coast.

Learn more about Grand Isle and its many attractions.

Kristy Christiansen is a New Orleans, Louisiana-based travel writer. Read about her Bayou State adventures in her Getting Lost in Louisiana blog.