Gulf Islands National Seashore
Straddling the Florida Panhandle (from Santa Rosa Island) and lower Mississippi (to Cat Island), Gulf Islands National Seashore invites nude beach bathers, and eco-tourists to take advantage of its long stretches of deserted beach. Boating and fishing enthusiasts will want to head out to open waters in the Florida sun.
Whether you're in the water or on shore, Gulf Islands National Seashore has plenty of outdoor activities. While many come to bike, camp, comb beaches and see the wildlife, this area is prime territory for:
- Swimming: With miles of easily accessible shorelines and warm Gulf currents, this national seashore offers some of the best swimming in Florida.
- Boating: Bring your own boat (20 feet or longer only please) or hire a National Parks Service approved boat when you arrive.
- Fishing: The waters are full of a wide range of fish and sea life. Whether you reel them in from a pier or head out to open waters for game fish, the choice is up to you.
Even though Fort Pickens was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, portions remain open. This early 19th century coastal fort played a significant role in the Civil war and features a museum, wilderness area and archeological site. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Geronimo's ghost at sundown; locals say he still haunts the fort.
- Polar Bear Dip (January 1st): Pensacola Beach visitors take a chilly annual dip and then warm up with a traditional New Year's feast.
- The Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival: More than 200 of the nation's best artisans gather to showcase their wares. See painters to potters, sculptors to mixed-media artists, and everything imaginable in between. The free Children's Arts Festival features hands-on artistic opportunities for budding young artists.
Pensacola's Seville Historic District is home to many New Orleans-style pubs and bars. Wander around and see what takes your fancy.
Primitive or full-service sites with water / electric hookups are available at Davis Bayou Campground. Horn, Petit Bois and East Ship Islands are accessible only by boat. Naval Live Oaks Youth Group Tent Area offers sites as well. Try the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce for beach hotels or condo rentals.
Need to Know
- Pensacola Beach, Florida Panhandle.
- Average summer temperatures range from 70 to 86F
- Average winter temperatures range from 56 to 70 F.
- Fishing pier
- Bike paths
- Scenic trails
With beaches and boating, Gulf Islands National Seashore is ideal for sunbathers and sailors alike. If you're ready to take the plunge, these Gulf Islands National Seashore activities will get things launched.
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