Many agree that this has to be the best beach near NOLA. It is also one of the closest beaches near New Orleans.
Visiting Ship Island is an excellent way to spend your day. To get to the island you will need to take a ferry from the dock in Gulfport, MS, which costs about $30 per person for a roundtrip. This will take approximately an hour.
The trip itself is exciting - we saw a bunch of dolphins jump close to us! 😊 Walking to the beach will take 10+ minutes or so, as the nicest beaches are on the southern side of the island, while the dock is on the northern side of it.
There's not much to do except relaxing, swimming, and touring the fort. You can rent umbrellas and sunbeds (around $25 for two) or bring your own if you don't mind carrying things around with you. There's a reasonably-priced snack bar, showers, and well-maintained bathroom facilities.
The beach has powder-white sand and the water is clearer than in Biloxi Beach (which we also recommend visiting) and very shallow so swimming is safe for kids. Crabs, jellyfish, stingrays are swimming really close!
While you are there make sure to visit Fort Massachusetts - it's free, and if you are into history, you're going to love it (have a look at the article on Wikipedia about it).
This beach is a must-go.
The furthest end of the beach is where you can find the "nudist section". Getting there can be tiring – it's a long hike from where the boat drops you off. Few folks journey to that part of the island, but the ones who do have been going there for years, and they know what's the deal over there.
What we loved
- The beach and the facilities
- Not too crowded
- Watching dolphins jump out of the water!
Driving Time (till the boat dock in Gulfport, MS)
You can drive to the boat dock, leave your car there, and take a 1-hour ferry trip to the island. The parking lot near the boat dock is tiny. There is a larger one near Jones Park which is within a short walking distance from the dock.
- 1 hour 10 minutes from Mobile, AL
- 1 hour 20 minutes from Hattiesburg, MS
- 1 hour 20 minutes from New Orleans, LA
Hotels and rentals
Additionally, there's a number of beaches near Ship Island Beach which you can visit: