Yes, the water was fairly clear. Yes, the sand was white. Yes, we had to hike almost 2 miles with all our gear to get to an isolated spot (sans nudists) to set up camp. Because of the long hike over to a decent camping area, that meant a hike of 3(?) miles to the bathrooms at the station near the park entrance - a long, uncomfortable hike when you have to go. It was rather stormy and windy when we set up, but after the weather and wind subsided, we were eaten alive by sand fleas! So much so that sleep was pretty much impossible. And the park rangers were not particularly friendly (yes, we did follow all the posted rules, and no, we did not park our bums on any dunes).
When we set out to check out the local area outside of the park, we were not impressed by the nonstop condos on the waterfront that ruined the beach drive view for miles and miles. Local area restaurants were also ridiculously overpriced for the value offered. So much for our mini-vacation.
If we want to travel to Gulf Island beaches in the future, we will be sticking to Ship and Horn Islands - much more isolated and peaceful, more wildlife (discounting sand fleas and biting flies), and the rangers are FAR friendlier. So what if the sand isn't as pristine as in Florida? Plus, when you drive Highway 90 in Mississippi, you can actually see the beaches and Gulf, with few visual obstructions for most of the drive.
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