Gulf Islands National Seashore
Gulf Islands National Seashore offers recreation opportunities and preserves natural and historic resources along the Gulf of Mexico barrier islands of Florida and Mississippi. Islands along the Alabama coast were originally considered for inclusion, but as of 2006 none is part of the national seashore.
The Florida portion of the seashore features offshore islands with sparkling white sand beaches, historic fortifications, and nature trails. Mainland features near Pensacola, Florida, include the Naval Live Oaks Reservation, beaches, and military forts. All Florida areas are accessible by automobile.
The Mississippi portion of the seashore features sparkling beaches, historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, islands accessible only by boat, bayous, nature trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The 4,080 acres Gulf Islands Wilderness offers special protection within the seashore to parts of Petit Bois and Horn Islands.
Considerable damage to public infrastructure occurred as a result of the 2004 and 2005 Atlantic hurricane seasons which has not been repaired. Visitation to the seashore dropped from 4,939,771 people in 2003 to only 1,689,400 in 2005.
Principal islands in the seashore (from east to west):
- Santa Rosa Island
- Perdido Key
- Petit Bois Island
- Horn Island
- East Ship Island
- West Ship Island
- Cat Island