Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore
5
About
This 150-mile stretch of seashore, which runs from Cat Island in Mississippi to Santa Rosa Island in Florida, offers sparkling blue water and many beautiful beaches along the way.
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  • Olli Copperwolf
    Crestview, Florida103 contributions
    Excellent!
    To start with, the portion of the long stretch I usually visited, was in Gulf Breeze. I used to go through the trails all the time and on both sides of Highway 98. Most of the time, I would never ever run in to anyone else and it was always incredibly quiet. There are some set walkways in some parts, a few camping areas that can be reserved by groups also, such as Scout camping trips. If you just need to de-stress a while, going to some of the various areas of the Gulf Islands National Seashore will help incredibly for short term relief. For any amenities, including restrooms, there are a few spots spread out along the way, but if not camping or such, either go before you come to one of the Seashore's areas, or just step off the path briefly at any point and do your business if absolutely necessary. If you think you may end up going, it's a good idea to take along some toilet paper and remember to did a hole of sorts if your insides suddenly have a great desire to explode! Also, I never ran across any animals really ever when going through where I did and I walked the trails alot. There were birds of course and the occasional squirrel, as well as anole lizards, but really nothing else really. You do need to be careful of various species of snakes though since they are out in the wooded areas, but I still never had this issue all the times I've been walking on the paths either. So, ... yeah...
    Visited April 2019
    Written February 10, 2020
  • james h
    Picayune, Mississippi200 contributions
    Always a great ride
    We visit this area frequently and always experience the stretch of some of the most beautiful and pristine Florida beaches. I ride my bike from Pensacola Beach out to Navarre (east) and to Fort Pickens (west) and still never tire of the experience. Yesterday, I asked a ranger whey the Fort Pickens area was extremely busy and learned the Blue Angels were practicing their routine - Pensacola NAS, home to the Blue Angels, is just across from Fort Pickens and offers a great view. Just an added feature to my bike ride was a front row seat for the performance. One thing that helps make this place special are the rangers that manage the area. Great group of folks who love their jobs and do what they can to help us visitors have a special experience. (for the Fort Pickens road, a National Park pass is required and can be purchased at the entry gate) The eastbound drive towards Navarre is free.
    Visited April 2023
    Written April 19, 2023
  • GaGlobeTrekker
    Villa Rica, Georgia117 contributions
    A wonderland of sea and sand
    I spent a few nights at the campgrounds with hundreds of other campers nearby. The west-facing beach was a short walk from the camping areas with lots of room for sunset watching. The National Seashore is maintained and managed by the National Parks Service which is one of the best resources of the United States government.
    Visited February 2020
    Written March 9, 2020
  • maldenmusic
    Malden, Missouri1,936 contributions
    Best of Florida
    Gulf Islands includes several locations in FL and MS. This visit took us to some of the Florida sections. The beaches are pristine and most have lifeguards and bathrooms. There's an entrance fee but it lets you explore any of the locations for 7 days. Bring everything you need to the beach with you as there are no vendors allowed. If you're lucky, you might get to see a few protected sea turtles or dolphins and stingrays
    Visited June 2020
    Traveled with friends
    Written June 27, 2020
  • F4981JCmichaels
    Vancouver, Washington1,960 contributions
    Gorgeous beach
    Unique beach. Long, long strip of blinding white sand. Bring your sunglasses. The sand is a fine powder. Many Florida beaches we saw in Florida on our road trip were filled with people, but because this is a national seashore, there is a fee, so there are fewer people present. Plus it is away from populated areas along highway 399 east of Pensacola Beach. The place has restrooms too and picnic areas, more than one location. If you are over 62, you can get a free lifetime pass for national parks, monuments, etc. Pays off if you go to a lot of national parks.
    Visited June 2021
    Written August 27, 2021
  • 2RetiredHatchlings
    Kansas49 contributions
    Beautiful White Sand Beaches
    Some areas are public no fee. Other areas have fees for Day Use with Covered Picnic Tables and Restrooms facilities. The beaches and dunes are naturally beautiful. Seniors can use their National Park Pass if they have one. Everyone who visits here cleans up after theirselves very well. Always a joy to spend Beach Time on Santa Rosa Island here when we are in the Navarre/ Pensacola area.
    Visited February 2020
    Traveled as a couple
    Written February 20, 2020
  • ClevelandBeachBoy
    556 contributions
    This park includes many areas that are not that close to each other, with some being better than others, ticks at Naval
    I visited several different areas of the park. All areas technically require payment, but I doubt most people pay in most areas since only Fort Pickens had a gate that required payment. I found it strange how little staff was available in the park. There was a visitor center at Naval Live Oaks that was open with no staff. There was no staff in the Fort Pickens visitor center. The only staff I saw at all areas were the Fort Pickens Area gate person, the gift shop cashier, and a ranger that came at night to tell everyone to leave. Fort Pickens Area This is a large fort you can basically do whatever you want in. You're supposed to stay off of the cannons, but many people go on them because there is no staff to enforce. This was educational and fun. I recommend watching the video in the visitor center. This area has a pay gate. Okaloosa Island Area Easily the worst area. Part of the parking lot was flooded, and I spent about 1 minute here. Not much to see, and small beach. Santa Rosa Area Beautiful drive. Better than the A1A. Nice long beach with many places to go and see. Naval Live Oaks Area This area has a few hiking trails. Some are unkempt, overgrown, and unmarked. I hiked the Beaver Pond Trail and never saw a beaver dam. We also did some of the Andrew Jackson Trail, the Boy Scout Trail, the North Bay Trail, the Borrow Pit Trail and the Fishing Trail. There are nice views of the ocean off some of the trails. The different landscapes some of the trails have are neat to see. After doing the Andrew Jackson and the Boy Scout Trail and going through the Fishing Trail, my wife had several deer ticks on her pants. This was in late December, when there were hardly any bugs around. Wear pants or lots of bug spray. We did not find deer ticks on myself or on my wife's skin anywhere, but they were for sure deer ticks. Perdido Key Area This is great for a walk on the beach with the white sand.
    Visited December 2019
    Written January 6, 2020
  • Lifetraveler1
    Atlanta, Georgia1,349 contributions
    One of the best isolated beaches around.
    The great thing I like about this beach, is it is isolated from the more popular beaches. You don't get large crowds here, because it's part of a national park. It's a little bit further from population centers. And there's a fee. Because of the lack of density of people, the beach itself is normally very pristine. The sand is blinding white when there's a sun out, and the water is pretty clear. Only one thing, the times I have been there there were no guards, I mean lifeguards, and the water currents was strong.
    Visited April 2022
    Traveled as a couple
    Written May 20, 2022
  • dudpa
    358 contributions
    wonderful secluded beaches
    lovely area that is a protected area for wildlife, but people are still able to enjoy the ocean - swimming, surfing, sun tanning, etc. I knew it was going to cost $25 just to get in the place, if I was going to be staying for a week it would have been a great deal. Just getting away from the crowds on the public beaches and having to walk a long ways, pay for parking, etc would one of the reasons I wanted to go to the National Seashore. I was able to park very close and carry my lawn chair/tote bag and sit very close to the water with plenty of distance/privacy between other beach goers. I appreciated having a public restroom and shaded area with picnic tables was also available. The museum for the fort was not open. The rangers at the entrance were very nice and gave me some killer magnets for my car!!!
    Visited July 2020
    Written July 31, 2020
  • Steven D
    Spring Hill, Tennessee1,769 contributions
    Great Beach Access Park For Families
    While staying in Perdido Key (Pensacola) Florida we researched good places to access the beach for ourselves and extended family members including younger grandchildren. We discovered Johnson’s Beach / Gulf Islands National Seashore managed by the National Park Service. Modest $25 entry fee per vehicle that can be reused for seven days — perfect for our four day weekend. The managed section of the park includes a large covered picnic area, restrooms, outdoor showers, lifeguard station with rescue vehicles and surf condition flag alerts. The beach itself is very nice and well groomed and clean. Adequate parking for hundreds of vehicles.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 16, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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5.0
1,282 reviews
Excellent
1,117
Very good
136
Average
25
Poor
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Terrible
3

maldenmusic
Malden, MO1,936 contributions
Jun 2020 • Friends
Gulf Islands includes several locations in FL and MS. This visit took us to some of the Florida sections. The beaches are pristine and most have lifeguards and bathrooms. There's an entrance fee but it lets you explore any of the locations for 7 days. Bring everything you need to the beach with you as there are no vendors allowed. If you're lucky, you might get to see a few protected sea turtles or dolphins and stingrays
Written June 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

F4981JCmichaels
Vancouver, WA1,960 contributions
Jun 2021
Unique beach. Long, long strip of blinding white sand. Bring your sunglasses. The sand is a fine powder.
Many Florida beaches we saw in Florida on our road trip were filled with people, but because this is a national seashore, there is a fee, so there are fewer people present. Plus it is away from populated areas along highway 399 east of Pensacola Beach.
The place has restrooms too and picnic areas, more than one location.
If you are over 62, you can get a free lifetime pass for national parks, monuments, etc. Pays off if you go to a lot of national parks.
Written August 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

2RetiredHatchlings
Kansas49 contributions
Feb 2020 • Couples
Some areas are public no fee. Other areas have fees for Day Use with Covered Picnic Tables and Restrooms facilities. The beaches and dunes are naturally beautiful. Seniors can use their National Park Pass if they have one. Everyone who visits here cleans up after theirselves very well. Always a joy to spend Beach Time on Santa Rosa Island here when we are in the Navarre/ Pensacola area.
Written February 20, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ClevelandBeachBoy
Greater Cleveland556 contributions
Dec 2019
I visited several different areas of the park. All areas technically require payment, but I doubt most people pay in most areas since only Fort Pickens had a gate that required payment.

I found it strange how little staff was available in the park. There was a visitor center at Naval Live Oaks that was open with no staff. There was no staff in the Fort Pickens visitor center. The only staff I saw at all areas were the Fort Pickens Area gate person, the gift shop cashier, and a ranger that came at night to tell everyone to leave.

Fort Pickens Area

This is a large fort you can basically do whatever you want in. You're supposed to stay off of the cannons, but many people go on them because there is no staff to enforce. This was educational and fun. I recommend watching the video in the visitor center. This area has a pay gate.

Okaloosa Island Area

Easily the worst area. Part of the parking lot was flooded, and I spent about 1 minute here. Not much to see, and small beach.

Santa Rosa Area

Beautiful drive. Better than the A1A. Nice long beach with many places to go and see.

Naval Live Oaks Area

This area has a few hiking trails. Some are unkempt, overgrown, and unmarked. I hiked the Beaver Pond Trail and never saw a beaver dam. We also did some of the Andrew Jackson Trail, the Boy Scout Trail, the North Bay Trail, the Borrow Pit Trail and the Fishing Trail. There are nice views of the ocean off some of the trails. The different landscapes some of the trails have are neat to see. After doing the Andrew Jackson and the Boy Scout Trail and going through the Fishing Trail, my wife had several deer ticks on her pants. This was in late December, when there were hardly any bugs around. Wear pants or lots of bug spray. We did not find deer ticks on myself or on my wife's skin anywhere, but they were for sure deer ticks.

Perdido Key Area

This is great for a walk on the beach with the white sand.
Written January 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lifetraveler1
Atlanta, GA1,349 contributions
Apr 2022 • Couples
The great thing I like about this beach, is it is isolated from the more popular beaches. You don't get large crowds here, because it's part of a national park. It's a little bit further from population centers. And there's a fee. Because of the lack of density of people, the beach itself is normally very pristine. The sand is blinding white when there's a sun out, and the water is pretty clear. Only one thing, the times I have been there there were no guards, I mean lifeguards, and the water currents was strong.
Written May 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

dudpa
Grand Junction, Colorado358 contributions
Jul 2020
lovely area that is a protected area for wildlife, but people are still able to enjoy the ocean - swimming, surfing, sun tanning, etc. I knew it was going to cost $25 just to get in the place, if I was going to be staying for a week it would have been a great deal. Just getting away from the crowds on the public beaches and having to walk a long ways, pay for parking, etc would one of the reasons I wanted to go to the National Seashore. I was able to park very close and carry my lawn chair/tote bag and sit very close to the water with plenty of distance/privacy between other beach goers. I appreciated having a public restroom and shaded area with picnic tables was also available. The museum for the fort was not open. The rangers at the entrance were very nice and gave me some killer magnets for my car!!!
Written July 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steven D
Spring Hill, TN1,769 contributions
Jul 2023 • Family
While staying in Perdido Key (Pensacola) Florida we researched good places to access the beach for ourselves and extended family members including younger grandchildren.

We discovered Johnson’s Beach / Gulf Islands National Seashore managed by the National Park Service. Modest $25 entry fee per vehicle that can be reused for seven days — perfect for our four day weekend.

The managed section of the park includes a large covered picnic area, restrooms, outdoor showers, lifeguard station with rescue vehicles and surf condition flag alerts. The beach itself is very nice and well groomed and clean. Adequate parking for hundreds of vehicles.
Written July 16, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steve K.
Bartlesville, OK49 contributions
Dec 2019
We stopped at a small part of the Seashore to look for seashells. There was an abundance of good, intact seashells. This time of the year (Christmas) it was cool with a cool wind off the Gulf. The area was kept very clean and provided a great place to just walk along the beach.
Written March 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Deb C
Milton, DE247 contributions
Feb 2023 • Couples
The seashore itself was absolutely stunning with the pure white sand. At times it was so white that it looked like snow. And it went on for miles and miles We stopped at the visitor center at Gulf Breeze called Gulf Island National Seashore Headquarters. It looked nice with a replica sea turtle out front. However … it was closed and there were no restrooms that we could find. Upon walking around back there was a water fountain up against the building with the metal cover ripped off. The center actually looked abandoned. Now, I may be wrong but aren’t these National Parks ours ? How disgraceful the neglect we saw. There was a very small boardwalk that also could use a little attention
Written February 20, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

maldenmusic
Malden, MO1,936 contributions
May 2021 • Friends
This entire area is gorgeous. This trip was mainly to the Fort Pickens and Opal Beach area. The areas sustained damage from Hurricane Sally so there are repairs going on. Lots of bathrooms are closed and using porti potties. Still this is our favorite place to relax everytime we are in this area.
Written May 27, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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