Located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 11 miles off Mississippi's Coast, is a little piece of paradise. West Ship Island is an undeveloped barrier island with white sandy beaches and beautiful blue green water. The island is accessible by ferry or private boat only.
Ship Island Excursions runs the ferry service leaving from Gulfport. It is a pleasant 50 minute ride that usually involves watching dolphins and feeding seagulls along the way.
Once you arrive at the island, you are greeted by a long pier and wooden walkways that leads you to the fort.
Fort Massachusetts was built after the War of 1812 and remained in use until 1903. Guided tours are available or you can explore it on your own.
From the fort, continue on the walkway, which will take you on a pretty good hike to the other side of the island where the main beach area is located. Along the way, you will pass restrooms, a pavilion, and a small store. These along with the umbrellas are pretty much the only places to get out of the sun on the island. There are no trees or natural shade anywhere.
I have been to the island many times and have never found much of anything in the way of shells. The few shells that I have seen had live crabs in them, so I left them.
I love this island because it almost feels like you are on it alone. There is a limited amount of passengers that the ferry will carry out every day and most of them stay in the main beach area. So, that “alone on an island feel” is just a short stroll down the beach away from the main area.
1040 23rd Ave, Gulfport, MS 39501
Adult Round Trip $29.00
Children (Age 3 -10) $19.00
Senior (Age 62+) $27.00
Military (Active I.D.) $27.00
Schedule varies according to the season. Check here.