Day Trip: Ship Island

A day on Ship Island

I’ve been dying to go to the beach.

Summer makes me restless. I love my job, I do. But when it’s hot outside and kids are out of school, I become desperate to get away and play in the water. Sand and sun are all I can think about!

Since a real vacation, or even hopping over to Florida for a couple of days, just isn’t in the cards right now, a day trip it would have to be. Luckily, from Baton Rouge, you can get a serious change of scenery with just a few hours’ drive to the Gulf Coast.

West Ship Island

I researched my options and decided on Ship Island. It’s about a 2-hour drive to Gulfport from Baton Rouge, and from there you catch a boat that takes you to the island, 11 miles off the coast.

We decided to really make a day of it, so we set our alarm for 6 a.m. and made it in time to catch the 9 a.m. boat. There was a pretty big crowd, but we had bought our tickets in advance online, so we grabbed our boarding passes and got on the boat with our cooler, beach chairs, and supplies.

Ship Island Excursions Boat

On the way, we passed another boat that had already dropped a bunch of people off on the island! We also saw a few dolphins on the trip over.

We're on a boat!

After about 45 minutes, we caught our first glimpse of Ship Island. It’s about 7 miles long but just a half mile across.

First glimpse

We pulled into port and stepped off the boat onto a boardwalk that we followed all the way across the island, to the side that faces the Gulf. Endless ocean! At the end of the boardwalk, there’s a little area with concessions and bathrooms.

Crowds

Most people stuck close to the boardwalk, but we wanted a quieter beach, so we hauled our gear a ways down the beach until we found a nice area that was practically deserted! You can rent chairs and umbrellas from the people who run the boat, but if you want a peaceful beach day, I highly recommend bringing your own chairs and getting away from the crowds.

Private beach (sort of)

We lounged in our chairs, and, boy was I glad we splurged on the little umbrellas – the sun was out in force! There was a nice breeze off the Gulf, though. It wasn’t unpleasantly hot if you had a little shade. Still, if you go, do not skimp on the sunscreen! And bring a hat. We also packed a cooler with sandwiches, fruit, and water, so we had plenty of snacks.

Perfection

We watched the waves and the people who passed us on their beach walks. We swam when it got too hot.

These are our water shoes, try not to be jealous

We took a nice long walk down the beach. We left most of our things on the beach while we walked. I took our money and keys in a small backpack, but we left the chairs and cooler. They were right where we left them when we got back.

Waves

We explored a little of the middle of the island, where there are some pretty plants and you can see Fort Massachusetts in the distance, but it did get hotter the farther you were from the water, so we headed back to the shore pretty quickly.

Fort in the distance

After our walk and a bit more swimming, we walked over to the fort and took a look around. It’s an interesting place, with a D-shaped construction and sea grass growing on the mounds at the top. It’s got fun round staircases, a huge cannon, and some cool displays about its history as a military asset. There weren’t guided tours on the day we went, but I believe they are offered.

Fort Massachusetts

We headed back to the beach and lazed around until it was time to board the 5:00 boat off the island.

Bye, Island!

With sand in our shoes (and in other places, too) and smiles on our faces, we waved goodbye to our island paradise.

It was such a good day!

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