When most people think of Mississippi, great beaches are not the first thing to come to mind. But the Gulf of Mexico is the largest gulf in the entire world, and it has beautiful, warm water and a diverse ecosystem.
Mississippi locals know that their 62 miles of coastline and 26 miles of accessible beachfront are some of the most beautiful and fun in the entire South.
The diverse array of beaches on the Mississippi coast has something for everyone. We’ll explore some of the best things about the beaches in Mississippi. Below, check out the top 11 of the most popular beaches in Mississippi and what makes each one unique.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Biloxi Beach – Biloxi
- 2. Ship Island Public Beach – Gulfport
- 3. Front Beach – Ocean Springs
- 4. Waveland Beach – Bay St. Louis
- 5. Horn Island – Jackson City
- 6. Gulfport Beach – Gulfport
- 7. Long Beach – Long Beach
- 8. Gulf Islands National Seashore – Ocean Springs
- 9. East Beach – Ocean Springs
- 10. Dogwood Beach – Pass Christian
- 11. Ross Barnett Reservoir Beaches – Ridgeland
- Others Mississippi’s Beautiful Beaches
- The 10 Reasons to Visit Mississippi’s Beaches
1. Biloxi Beach – Biloxi
Biloxi was founded as one of the first European settlements in the region. It is famous today for its many casinos and for the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum.
The beach here is a local favorite. It doesn’t get too crowded, the parking is free and the calm water is perfect for putting a raft or tube in the water to relax the day away.
The downtown area, with its casinos and restaurants, is walkable from many parts of the beach, and there’s a famous 19th century restored lighthouse that’s considered a local landmark.
Chairs and umbrellas are available to rent, as are wave runners and sand vehicles.
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2. Ship Island Public Beach – Gulfport
Ship Island’s reputation is as the home of some of the best beaches in the South, if not the entire U.S.
The barrier islands are located 11 miles off the coast and are among the final undeveloped islands in the Gulf. A one-hour ferry ride out to Ship Island is scenic and allows guests to enjoy the local marine life.
Here is where you’ll find Mississippi’s clearest waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Concessions are available for sale.
Fort Massachusetts is located here, too. It’s a fully preserved Civil War fort offering regular public tours.
3. Front Beach – Ocean Springs
Front Beach has plenty of rental cottages available, making it a desirable location for vacationers. It’s a wide beach with lots of space for privacy, and like so many others, never feels too crowded.
Photographers love this beach, as it is known as one of the more picturesque coastal locations.
Convenience is key here: There’s a little path that leads to the restroom facilities.
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4. Waveland Beach – Bay St. Louis
The city of Waveland is known as the “Hospitality City.” It’s a place that emphasizes quiet and peacefulness.
Unlike the other Mississippi beach towns, Waveland prohibits all commercial businesses directly along the coast, so beachgoers who like to take it easy may want to opt for this location.
For history and culture, there’s the Veterans Memorial Monument. Also along Waveland Beach is Buccaneer State Park, a 343-acre camping area with RV sites, golf, hiking, swimming and any outdoor activity you can think of.
5. Horn Island – Jackson City
Like Ship Island, Horn Island is an offshore destination where you can take in the clear blue waters of the gulf. The difference here is that there is no ferry service. The island is only accessible by private boat.
Visitors are required to check in with the on-duty ranger when they arrive. Camping and campfires are permissible, and the undeveloped land allows everyone to observe the natural animal life.
You’ll be roughing it, though. There are no facilities at all on Horn Island.
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6. Gulfport Beach – Gulfport
This is probably one of the more popular beaches along Mississippi’s coast. It lies directly between Biloxi Beach and Long Beach.
Free parking is available, and the sandy area is so vast that you’ll rarely find yourself in a crowd. For the kids, there’s a fenced-in playground and multiple volleyball courts available.
Downtown Gulfport is nearby and, like some of the other towns, has lots of post-beach entertainment.
7. Long Beach – Long Beach
Long Beach is mainly an extension of Biloxi Beach and Gulfport Beach, but it is considered the quieter version by locals.
At Long Beach, you can find multiple piers for fishing and an observation tower for viewing the scenery. The city even maintains showers for getting the sand off.
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8. Gulf Islands National Seashore – Ocean Springs
The National Seashore is maintained and operated by the National Park Service. It encompasses all of the gulf islands off the coast of Mississippi.
Once admitted to the park areas, you can enjoy biking, camping, bird watching, sailing, boating, snorkeling and many more activities around the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
9. East Beach – Ocean Springs
East Beach is off the beaten path, with no tourist attractions to speak of. During your peaceful visit here you’ll spot a few fishing piers and some small cafés. There are plenty of vacation rentals nearby for those who prefer to relax.
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10. Dogwood Beach – Pass Christian
The city of Pass Christian is nicknamed “The Pass” by locals. It’s an enjoyable little tourist area with multiple beaches just a short distance from downtown.
White sands, clear waters, umbrella and kayak rentals and plenty of amenities give Dogwood Beach its personality. Plenty of shopping and dining options abound nearby.
11. Ross Barnett Reservoir Beaches – Ridgeland
“The Rez,” as it’s called by the locals, is not a coastal beach but a lake just outside of Jackson. The reservoir serves as a source of clean water for the area, but it is also a popular place for recreation. There are multiple small beach areas.
Fishing is abundant here, and many seafood restaurants can be found nearby. Swimming, water skiing and towing are all permitted; just make sure you stay within the designated areas so the city can maintain the cleanliness of the water.
Others Mississippi’s Beautiful Beaches
Mississippi’s Gulf Coast has many other small and large beach areas to visit, all located within a relatively close area. Bay St. Louis Beach, Lake Mars Beach in Ocean Springs, Popp’s Ferry Landing in Biloxi, Harrison County Beach in Gulfport and Ocean Springs Beach all offer the same great amenities as the others on this list.
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The 10 Reasons to Visit Mississippi’s Beaches
1. Warm Water
One advantage of being located along the Gulf of Mexico is that the water is warmer, on average, than it is out east on the Atlantic coast: typically about five degrees warmer. The water here consistently gets above 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months.
The reason for the warmth is the Gulf Stream current, which brings the warm water from the equator up north.
Anyone who loves the refreshing feel of an ocean swim will want to come down here to feel the difference!
2. Beautiful Colors
While the waters directly off of Mississippi’s mainland aren’t naturally clear, there are beaches off of the islands in the gulf that feature bright blue and emerald-green waters reminiscent of the tropics.
The clear water and bright colors are a result of the Gulf of Mexico’s calmer currents, which kick up a lot less sediment and debris here than at the beaches along the open ocean.
These islands are only accessible by boat, but they can be well worth it for a Caribbean-style, tropical feel.
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3. White Sand
Many people don’t realize it, but Mississippi’s gulf beaches feature some of the whitest, cleanest sand in the South. Anyone can come here to witness the miles and miles of soft white sand.
The sand stays relatively cool in the hot sun, is easy to walk on and lends itself well to putting down a towel or chair to enjoy a cold beverage on a hot afternoon.
4. Romantic Atmosphere
What’s more romantic than a long sunset walk along the beach? Mississippi is home to wide-open, sandy beaches with plenty of space for lovers to take a romantic stroll.
Beyond the actual beach, the coastal area features many options for casino gaming, dining, shopping and beautiful scenery that will set the mood for any couple’s getaway.
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5. Family-Friendly Sites
Most of the beaches in Mississippi have shallow waters, perfect for letting little ones wade in and swim around. The seas are naturally calmer in the gulf, so there’s less need to worry about big waves.
The sand is smooth and clear of debris, and the conditions are perfect for bringing the whole family down for a relaxing beach day.
Many of the beaches are close to restaurants, cafés and restroom facilities, ensuring that the kids will be able to stay at the beach all day long.
6. Water Sports
While you won’t find many surfers on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, owing to the calm waters, there are plenty of other water sports to enjoy. The beaches here are ideal for activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and parasailing.
Anglers also have a plethora of enjoyable, peaceful fishing sites with ideal conditions for nabbing the big one.
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7. Natural Beauty
Aside from the obvious beauty of the sand, surf and sunsets, nature trails and protected sites also dot the area. Miles of wooded trails, parks, nature reserves and undeveloped islands make the Mississippi coast a great place for bird watchers, naturalists and campers.
Don’t forget the binoculars!
Sitting out in the sun all day can work up quite an appetite. Most of Mississippi’s beach towns work hard to satisfy their visitors with top-rated dining. There are countless options for small boutique cafés, family-friendly grills and romantic high-end bistros.
Of course, the area also has some of the freshest, most delicious seafood in the entire region.
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Even if you’re not a beach enthusiast, you’ll love hitting up some of the local Mississippi shopping areas, where you’ll find boutique shops stretching on for miles. Many are located in quaint, walkable downtowns, with some accessible directly from the beach.
Cities like Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian and Ocean Springs are especially popular for a great shopping spree.
While visiting, you’ll undoubtedly learn about the rich history of the Mississippi beaches as well as the entire coastal region.
The area was first home to the Biloxi Native American tribe and was colonized by the French in the late 1690s. The territory later changed hands between Great Britain and Spain before coming under the control of the United States in the late 1700s.
Many major historical sites have been preserved for public enjoyment. Tourists can visit forts like Fort Massachusetts or spot some of the historical mansions built along the coast.
Mississippi’s gulf coast features the perfect mix of beauty, fun, hospitality and charm. With so many options around the beach towns, visitors will find new beaches to explore along the coast across multiple trips.
Whether you’re looking for a refreshing swim, a deep tan, an exciting volleyball game, an adventure on a wave runner or just a quiet outing on the sand, the beaches in Mississippi will leave you impressed.