Beach Camping in Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana


Are you a Beach Bum looking for a unique weekend getaway? Consider beach camping in Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana.

We’ve all heard the term “Beach Bum,” and some of us certainly have some Beach Bum tendencies in our personality. But I would argue that you’re never an actual Beach Bum until you’ve camped on the beach.

Of course, most beaches don’t allow camping and some are regularly policed to stop drifters from spending the night on the sand. However, if camping out on the coast sounds like fun, you’ve got options.

My wife and I, who currently live in the Jackson, Mississippi metro area, took a weekend trip to Grand Isle State Park in Louisiana the last weekend in May. It’s a straight shot for us down I-55 to New Orleans, then through the back roads of small Louisiana towns until we hit the coast of Grand Isle – a little over four hours total.

On the island, there are many options for beach house rentals, plus a few for sale to those interested in a permanent vacation destination close to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a fishing town, a drinking town, and just a nice place to sit and relax.

According to the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism:

"Off the coast of Louisiana. A beach ridge created by the action of the waves of the Gulf, Grand Isle serves as a breakwater between the Gulf and the network of inland channels that connect to the bayou tributaries of the Mississippi River. It is also the launching point for excellent deep-sea salt-water fishing adventures.Every July, a Tarpon Rodeo attracts thousands of fishing competitors to these prolific waters offshore. Speckled trout can be caught by surf fishers year round, especially in the spring and summer. Redfish venture into the range of the surf fishermen in the fall and winter.The warm Gulf waters are enjoyed by swimmers most of the year, and Grand Isle State Park offers an excellent location for splashing in the surf. Birding enthusiasts will also delight in the beauty of the lagoons and the Gulf shore. This unique environment attracts numerous species of birds and other wildlife, so bring your binoculars or a camera to enjoy the opportunity to view nature unspoiled."

Beach camping is available at the state park, and we chose to go the rustic route. There are ten rustic campsites on the sand that include only fire pit and a picnic table. The cost is just $14 a night, plus $2 for admission to the park. The LA 1 Bridge, your final turn before you reach the island, is a toll road that costs $3.

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All said, that’s as inexpensive as you can get for a quick weekend getaway or you could live the Beach Bum life for more than a week for the price of a night’s stay at an economy hotel elsewhere.

For those travelling with RVs, there are 49 premium site available that include water and electric hook-ups. The cost is $28 per night from April to September and $20 per night from October through March.

A few suggestions/items of note:

  • No firewood is available on site, so you’d better bring some from home or buy a bundle at the general store on the island. We didn’t come prepared and gathered some driftwood and small pieces for a small fire to roast marshmallows on the first night, but it was slim pickings and we didn’t build a fire the second day.
  • Beach campers must make a reservation at the state park, but are not assigned any one plot in particular. The entire rustic camping area is Site No. 3, which can be a little confusing once you arrive and there are no numbers on any of the picnic tables or fire pits. Just choose one that’s available and pitch your tent.
  • Pack light. The parking lot is pretty far from the rustic campsites – probably 200 yards or so, depending on which of the ten sites you end up with. You travel past the restrooms, down a wooden walkway and onto the sand. If you arrive late and are stuck with the farthest camp site from the parking lot, you’ll walk roughly another 100 yards. If you’re lugging a tent, sleeping bags, food, a camping stove and other accessories, it can take a lot of time and effort.
  • The weekend we spent on the island was particularly windy, and therefore it was very difficult to cook. Of course, there’s always a breeze on the coast, so you might want to avoid cooking on site anyway. If we were to do it again, we’d bring only non-perishable food or plan to eat at a local seafood shack for most meals.
  • One of the most impressive features was the restroom area. Most camping bathhouses leave something to be desired to say the least, but the bathrooms at Grand Isle State Park were big, modern and relatively clean – much like what you would find in an office building, but a little sandy and with showers. I wouldn’t want to ride out a storm there (as was suggested by the staff if severe weather hit), but the restrooms were a nice surprise.

Overall, our beach camping trip was very enjoyable. It was relaxing to lounge by the beach during the day, then fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves at night. Grand Isle State Park is a quick and easy destination, it’s downright cheap to stay there, and it’s a nice place to recharge your batteries or embrace your inner Beach Bum.

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