Gulf Islands National Seashore


Here along one of the last undeveloped stretches of the coastal South, this maze of wetlands, beaches and five off-shore barrier islands is not tremendously accessible, but if you plan ahead, you will experience the migrating birds, scrubby dunes and empty white-sand beaches. By car, you can access Davis Bayou, an attractive wet quilt of marsh islands and flat-water horizons.

Otherwise, the big draw comes in the shape of four wilderness islands, Horn, Sand, Petit Bois and East Ship Island. All are open to camping, but you'll need to charter a boat to get there; see the park website for a list of commercial operators. During the osprey nesting season some parts of the island will be off-limits to nurture the nesting flocks.There are two developed campgrounds in the park: Davis Bayou Campground in Mississippi and Fort Pickens Campground in Florida (; campsites $22-40). West Ship Island is the most accessible island in the archipelago. There's a twice daily ferry to and from the island all summer, and Wednesday to Sunday services in the spring and fall. In addition to snorkeling, bodyboarding, swimming and beachcombing, you can visit Fort Massachusetts, a brick fort built in 1868, right on the beach.

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