Day Trip to Ship Island Mississippi

Mary Piper
August 21, 2020

When you stay at our hotel in Long Beach, MS, you are only moments away from all the area attractions to explore Gulfport, Mississippi, next door. We’re 10 minutes away from Gulfport’s sights and sounds and conveniently located less than 10 miles from the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. With so many things to do in Gulfport and the Long Beach areas, it’s hard to know where to begin, and that’s why we’re here! While our hotel is across the street from Gulf Coast beaches, taking a day trip to Ship Island, Mississippi, is one of the top ways to relax and soak up some sun!

History of Ship Island Mississippi

Aerial shot from Ship Island, Mississippi

Ship Island is a small island about 11 miles south of Gulfport, MS. It’s only accessible by boat or ferry. Ship Island is considered the “Plymouth Rock of the Gulf Coast.” French explorers first discovered it in the late 1600s. They were impressed with the deep waters around the island, allowing bigger ships to anchor near it—which was impossible closer to the Mississippi coast. After its discovery, the island became a port connecting Mississippi and french-colonized Louisiana. Ship Island also played an active role in the Civil War. It was a Confederate prisoner of war camp and the base for the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard Volunteers, one of the first black combat units to fight in the Civil War. The island’s fort was established around that time as well.

Today, Ship Island is a nationally protected seashore and offers the first clear waters, white-sand beaches, and shelling opportunities east of New Orleans.

Things to Do on Ship Island

Ship Island is all about sun, sand, and surf. Both visitors and locals travel to the location from mid-March to November to shell and swim along the island’s south shore, where you’ll find clear waters and soft-sand beaches that are perfect for sunbathing. To reach the beach, you’ll walk along the boardwalk and get a glimpse of coastal wildlife.

Inside Fort Massachusetts.

Exploring Fort Massachusetts is another must-see stop on Ship Island. The fort was built in 1868 to protect Mississippi shores from incoming invaders. This historic fort offers free walking tours and hosts various exhibits throughout the year.

When you visit Ship Island, part of the fun is getting there! The island is about a one-hour ferry ride from Gulfport. Along the way, you may spot some dolphins who are known for dancing beside the ferries as they pass.

Visiting Ship Island

The only way to get to Ship Island, Mississippi, is by boat or ferry. Public ferries run by Ship Island Excursions leave from Jones Park in Gulfport daily from March 14th to November 1st. There are also themed cruises throughout the year that are worth taking!

Ferry to Ship Island

The Island offers umbrella and beach chair rentals, but you can bring a few of your supplies. Once on the island, there are picnic tables, restrooms, and showers. There’s also a snack bar to enjoy while you sunbathe.

Reserve your tickets for the ferry in advance online for special pricing. Ship Island Excursions also offers ticket deals and discounts, like the weekday family package. This package includes two chairs and umbrella rental on the island and $5 off when you purchase at least four tickets.

Long Beach, Mississippi Lodging

Centrally located, our hotel in Long Beach, Mississippi is between Gulfport and Pass Christian, and less than 20 minutes from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

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