Memories of Grand Isle, Louisiana

Grand Isle Map

Grand Isle, Louisiana is a town on a barrier island (of the same name) in the Gulf of Mexico. Located at the mouth of Barataria Bay where the bay meets the Gulf, Grand Isle is part of Jefferson Parish, as is Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans where David and I raised three of our kids. Needless to say, we have strong ties to the Louisiana Gulf Coast, although we no longer live there.

Following the events of the BP oil spill and in light of President Obama’s visits to Grand Isle, (along with pictures of tar balls and oil coated pelicans), I’ve decided to share a few of my recollections of this tiny resort community.

Grand Isle is approximately 95 miles away from the metro area and only one road leads there. It makes for a long ride as it passes through small bayou towns of which, in my opinion, aren’t particularly aesthetic.

Recently, I mentioned to my husband that I wasn’t thrilled about our trips, over the years, to Grand Isle. The beaches aren’t pristine and white like in Florida, and my visions of basking in the sun on powdery white sand could never be realized at the beach in Grand Isle. He looked surprised and disappointed at my confession. He began reminiscing about the good times we have had there, and I have to admit he’s right. If we keep an open mind, just about anything can be an adventure worth savoring.

Here are a few of the good times my family has had on Grand Isle.

  • As newlyweds, we went to Grand Isle and slept in the car. It was summertime, hot, and I didn’t sleep a wink. I don’t remember if we couldn’t find a room, or were just being thrifty. David has a photographic memory and I’m sure he’ll set me straight on this. I don’t remember much of anything else about that trip, but here I am and no worse for the wear after sleeping in the car.


  •  Another time we took a ride down to Grand Isle because we had read a travel review that described a lovely grove of trees in the middle of town. I do believe the article was simple hyperbole with its romantic description of the sounds of the surf and such. Let’s just call it dramatic license. As we all know “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” and the writer had evidently experienced a Grand Isle that I was unable to appreciate at the time.

However, because of that article, we discovered a neighborhood off of the beaten path with a row of old oak trees. In retrospect, I’m glad we found it and I bet I’m one of the few visitors to Grand Isle aware of those trees. That’s because people don’t go to Grand Isle to look for trees, they go to Grand Isle to fish.

  •  You don’t need a boat to catch an ice chest full of fish at Grand Isle. All it takes is a pole, a little desire and a walk out on to the Grand Isle bridge. You don’t even need a lot of patience to reel in some really big ones. Unless you are Marlene and David, of course. It was unbelievable. People were pulling in giant sheepheads one after another standing right next to us. We were so unsuccessful that particular day, that we accepted hand outs from other anglers who had reeled in too many fish.  As you can see from this story, Louisiana truly is a “Sportsman’s Paradise”.


Sitting here writing this conjures up the smell of heat, salt air, and fish. That’s the smell of the beach on Grand Isle. It’s fun to swim there, as cooling off from summer heat in the south is a relief anyplace you can find it. Although, I do believe the beach is better for beach combing than sunbathing.

Treasure hunters easily find dead shoes and rotting fish. My favorite find have been colorful clam shells and teeny weenie baby crabs that scurry across the sand. We’ve even seen rabbits at the beach. They weren’t sun bathing, but scampering through nearby grasses.


  • By far, our best beach combing adventure was when we saw a shark about 10 feet away from the water‘s edge. There it was just swimming along in “Jaws” fashion. It was pretty exciting! However, I don’t believe that was the trip where M and E were tots, and afraid of getting tangled in the seaweed. I would have been too freaked out by the shark to let my babies go swimming. The seaweed experience must have been the time we camped out at Grand Isle.


  • Have I mentioned mosquitoes yet? They were an utter nuisance on that camping trip. However, we had fun just the same, even though the moon was so bright it was like having a lantern on in the tent all night. But, who sleeps on camping trips anyways?


Mallory and Eileen on the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana 2001

Mallory and Eileen on the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana 2001


Eileen, Mallory, and Marlene at the not-so-pretty beach at Grand Isle, Louisiana


As I now live well over 2,000 miles away from Grand Isle, it is unlikely that I will ever return. But, I will remember it fondly as part of the beautifully woven tapestry I call my life.

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