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Grand Isle, Louisiana
Grand Isle State Park can be found at the very end of Louisiana Highway 1. It is the only inhabited barrier island the state has to offer. It maintains a comfortable temperature nearly all year round. The temperature range is between 92-68 degree Fahrenheit during the day and between 75-48 degree Fahrenheit at night depending on the season.
I have always found the call of the sea to be an irresistible temptation to my soul and crave the solitude this raw natural haven offers. You will find this area is more palatable to nature buffs, fishermen and bird watchers than sunbathers. The park allows tent camping on the beach if you are inclined to enjoy the simple pleasures of listening to the ocean waves lulling you to sleep and smell of the salt air. It will also allow you to enjoy the pleasure of waking to the sea gulls call and the pelicans hovering in the updrafts of air currents, looking for their next meal. Seashells are often found washed ashore but you are as likely to find seaweed and fish skeletons there as well.
The island is maintained in its natural state and is not for the touristy types that expect high end condos and manicured beaches. It is life at its purest natural state here on the island. If you require a more traditional accommodation you can find a motel or a camp outside of the park.
The water around the island is host to over 280 varieties of fish; it is no wonder the majority of businesses cater to the fisherman. There are over thirty charter companies as well as several bait shops and marinas. There are two major fishing piers, one in the state park and the other next to the Caminada Bridge. If you don’t care to fish you can purchase shrimp, crab and fish from the marinas or the local fisherman. There are also restaurants on the main road where you can enjoy the various fish, shrimp, oysters and crabs that are available here already cooked for you.
An annual Migratory Bird Festival is the highlight of any spring visit because thousands of migratory birds flock to the island as well as the bird watchers. The festival welcomes the arrival of these beautiful birds. The Nature Conservancy maintains nature hikes that meander through the oak-hackberry forest they like to feast upon. The pelicans and roseate spoonbill can be seen here or at Queen Bess Island, also a wonderful place for the bird watching community to visit.
As early as the 1700’s the Grand Isle has been occupied by the Chitimacha Tribe. It was known as a “Fisherman’s Paradise” by Europeans in the 1780’s when they settled on the island while under Spanish rule. Later four land grants where made available and farms that raised cattle, cotton and sugar cane where put on them. The privateer, Jean Lafitte, frequented the waters around this part of the coast in the 1800’s before Fort Livingston was erected on a neighboring island. After the Civil War the plantation farms declined and vacation resorts started to cater to the wealthy families of the 1900’s. This little island has been devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita as well as others and has fought off the oil spill of 2010. The people here are resilient and hardy overcoming all the obstacles that have ever challenged them.
The people are friendly and free with information about fishing skills and will offer advice to the novice if asked. If you enjoy the simple pleasures of camping, bird watching, collecting shells, walking on the beach or fishing this is a wonderful place to visit.
Content copyright © 2014 by Jacqueline Rosenbalm. All rights reserved.
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