What is Avery Island?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Avery Island is a salt dome in the Southern state of Louisiana, famous as the site for production of Tabasco hot sauce. Located west of the city of New Orleans, Avery Island is part of a group of salt dome formations collectively referred to as the Five Islands, and it is a popular tourist site in addition to the site of a working factory and salt mine. Visitors to Avery Island pay a small toll to enter the Island, and may pay additional fees for some of the activities offered on the Island.

Avery Island is a salt dome located in Louisiana.
Avery Island is a salt dome located in Louisiana.

Technically, Avery Island is not an island at all, as it is not surrounded entirely by water. Instead, the island is composed of a massive salt deposit left behind by the slow evaporation of an inland sea. Avery Island rises above the surrounding landscape, making it easy to spot, and it is surrounded by bayous, marshes, and flatlands. During periods of flooding in the Louisiana Delta, Avery Island has been threatened by rising waters.

Avery Island is famous for being the sit of production of Tabasco sauce.
Avery Island is famous for being the sit of production of Tabasco sauce.

The island is owned by the McIlhenny family, which has been making Tabasco since 1868 on the site, using peppers grown on the island. Today, peppers continue to be produced on the island for the famous hot sauce, and those peppers are also used as seedstock for peppers grown off site. In addition to being used for hot sauce production, Avery Island hosts a salt mine, operated by the Cargill company as of 2008, and oil and natural gas are reclaimed from the mine as well, making Avery Island a rather profitable venture.

Avery Island also has a sprawling botanic garden, with specimens from all over the world. Many visitors enjoy wandering through the garden to see the rich assortment of plants, and they can also see the bird sanctuary on the island, which most famously houses herons. The Tabasco factory is open for tours, for people who want to see the process of sauce manufacture from start to finish, and visitors can shop for a variety of Tabasco-branded products at the factory.

Some members of the McIlhenny family, along with some factory employees, also call Avery Island home. Residents of the island have a short commute to work, but they also get to enjoy the natural beauty of the island year-round; the McIlhenny family has worked very hard on conservation projects on the island, to ensure that future generations can enjoy it.

In addition to Avery Island, the Five Islands include Weeks Island, Jefferson Island, Cote Blanche, and Belle Isle.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


When I visited Avery Island, I was a bit disappointed in the tour of the Tabasco factory. I guess I was expecting a guided tour of the factory and not just a video.

My favorite part of this place was Jungle Gardens. My kids thought it was kind of boring, but since I love plants and birds I really enjoyed it.

Fortunately we were there in the spring when many of the beautiful flowers were in full bloom. You don't have to get out of your car if you want to drive through and see all kinds of flowers, birds and alligators. My kids did enjoy looking for the alligators though.

This place has the feel of an old plantation and I found it to be very peaceful and relaxing.


When we were visiting friends in Louisiana, they took us to Avery Island. I had never heard of it before, but really enjoyed this place.

I was at first struck with how beautiful the island is. You can tell they spend time making sure the island is kept up and very attractive.

Even if you don't like Tabasco sauce, you don't want to miss out on a tour through the factory. Make sure you go when the factory is open so you can see the workers when they are there.

Other than that, the tour pretty much consists of a short history video. The gift shop is a great place to pick up unique gifts though. You would be surprised with what they can come up with to put a Tabasco logo on.


@zsazsa56 - Does it smell like hot sauce on the island? You would think with all those peppers being grown and all that hot sauce being made that the air would practically drip with red peppery heat.


I have made several visits to Avery Island. I lived in Louisiana for about a decade and whenever someone would come to visit me we would make a stop at Avery island.

I went the first time just because I am a huge fan of Tabasco sauce. I know that might sound like heresy because Tabasco is so popular these days, but I think it is the original and still the best hot sauce.

I have made subsequent visits just because it is a beautiful place to see. You would not expect an island known for salt and hot sauce to be filled with natural beauty but it really is. The botanical garden there is wonderful and the shoreline is really pretty to see too. Anyone looking for a nice natural part of Louisianan to visit should definitely check out Avery Island.

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