Life’s a beach in The Big Easy. You can see it in the city’s laid-back, easy-going approach to everything. And thankfully, there are lots of beaches near New Orleans so that its folks can live up to this spirit.
Also known as Holly Beach, Cajun Riviera’s rustic and wide open shore that’s usually devoid of tourists makes it a good place if you want solace and peace. Situated just outside of Cameron, Louisiana, this stretch of sand along the Gulf of Mexico is where people go shell hunting, fishing, crabbing, camping, and wave watching. There are no commercial establishments anywhere near the area so make sure to grab food, beer, and whatever else you need before heading out to this beach.
Go south on Louisiana Highway 1 and right near the end of the mainland, the road diverts and cuts through marshlands and mangroves to connect the mainland to the majestic Grand Isle State Park. The only inhabited barrier island in Louisiana, The Grand Isle is home to Louisiana’s diverse wildlife and its beach is where the action’s at with watersports. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can go surfing and kiteboarding. But if you’re looking for something mellow, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are also a thing here.
Located just off US Hwy 90, Biloxi Beach features 26 miles of pristine white sand. This long stretch of shoreline is dotted with lots of retail shops, dining joints, hotels, and bars to choose from. If you think lady luck is on your side, you might want to give beachfront casinos like Treasure Bay or Beau Rivage Resort and Casino a visit. Plus, major tourist draws like the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of the Arts and Jefferson Davis Presidential Library are just a stone’s throw away from the beach.
If history is your thing, Fontainebleau State Park has lots of stories of the yesteryears to tell. There’s an old railroad track that makes for a wonderful route for biking, in-line skating, and hiking. And the crumbling ruins of a sugar mill serve as an interesting contrast to the flourishing wildlife in the area. The sandy coastline of North Shore Beach is a great place to go glamping and sunbathing. The beach is also equipped with picnic facilities, a fishing pier, volleyball nets, and splash pads for kids.
Located off of State Highway 25, Bogue Chitto State Park is just an hour’s drive away from New Orleans. This state park features a dynamic river system, equestrian trails, disc golf, as well as picnic areas, and campsites along the beach. There’s a water playground for the kids and a wide-open space to go play fetch with Fido. So if you’re looking for a family- and pet-friendly beach near New Orleans, Bogue Chitto State Park is the place to be.
If you want to venture out of the mainland, Ship Island is one of the most accessible barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to a regular ferry service that leaves out of the port in Biloxi and Gulfport. The 50-minute ferry ride is quite an experience in itself as bottleneck dolphins may just decide to grace the tour with their presence. Once on the island, be sure to explore Fort Massachusetts and the long boardwalk that extends from the northern part of the island, where you’ll alight from the ferry, down to its southern part.
If a day out with the entire family is what you have in mind, White Sands Lake Day Beach is the place to be. This clean, spring-fed lake is the perfect area for a day of swimming. Plus, there are lots of inflatables, boats, kayaks, and canoes on the lake so there are plenty of things to do for the whole family.
With its expansive view of Lake Charles, the North Beach is a family-friendly picnic spot if you just want to chill with your kids. There’s also a promenade where you can take an early morning or late afternoon stroll and catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise or sunset. Also, if you want to stay overnight, there are lots of beachfront hotels in the area.
If you don’t mind taking a 4-hour drive, you could head out to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach. After the long drive, you’ll be rewarded with the sight of clear, turquoise water and the 27-mile stretch of white sand that this beach is famous for. Because this destination is quite a hit with tourists, there are lots of establishments offering various activities ranging from family-friendly picnic under the sun, romantic dinners in one of the many award-winning restaurants in the area, to a thrilling jet ski tour around the gulf and St. Andrews Bay.
Dauphin Island’s public beach is well worth every second of the two-hour drive from New Orleans. Connected to the mainland by the three-mile Gordon Persons Bridge, the drive itself is already memorable. Once you get to the island, you can go fishing or bird-watching, cruise along with the dolphins, spend the afternoon kayaking, explore Fort Gaines, or check out The Estuarium, which features plants, animals, and other natural resources found in the estuary.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B8mucMhBmyD/Alt image: picnic area at Cypremort Point State Park
Located right in the middle of a Louisiana marsh, Cypremort Point State Park is home to diverse wildlife. The state park also features a half-mile stretch of man-made beach where you can hang out with your family or fishing buddies. You can try your luck at catching redfish and flounders in the park’s 100-foot fishing pier. Or you can rent a boat and venture out a few miles to fish in the Gulf of Mexico. You can also throw caution to the wind and experience thrilling watersports like kitesurfing and windsurfing here.
One of the most visited beaches on the Gulf Coast, Pensacola Beach is a three-hour drive from New Orleans. Situated on the barrier island of Santa Rosa, the beach is quite known for its inviting emerald-green water and fine white sand shoreline. You can go on a boat in pursuit of friendly dolphins, fish in the 1,471 feet long pier, hang out in one of the many beachfront bars and pubs, or get acquainted with resident flora and fauna with Footprints in the Sand EcoTrail.
If you’re itching to play a game of volleyball, Coconut Beach is where you need to be. Dubbed as the “Home of Sand Volleyball” in New Orleans, this man-made beach has 22 volleyball courts. And in 2018, they added a dodgeball and soccer area to the complex, making Coconut Beach the largest sand sports facility in the country. This complex also hosts sports tournaments and events drawing thousands of enthusiasts to this area.
At a time when African Americans were not allowed in Pontchartrain Beach, Lincoln Beach served as their haven, their go-to venue. Today, this historic beach is getting a makeover so that it could welcome visitors from all walks of life. And although the place hasn’t been fully rehabilitated back to its former glory, this site’s history and its pivotal role in getting the people to come together to restore the beach makes it worth a visit.
If you want a semi-secluded beach, Henderson Point Beach could be your playground for the day. This beach offers a sweeping view of the gulf and is an excellent place to behold the splash of colors in the sky during sunrise or sunset. There’s also an RV park nearby if you wish to go camping for a couple of days.