SHIP ISLAND, MS (WLOX) - Pristine beaches, natural beauty, and a significant history. All can be found on Ship Island, which is just a 50-minute ferry ride from the Gulfport Harbor. It is a popular summertime getaway for both tourists and local residents.
Visitors who take the ferry boat to Ship Island will find the relaxing ride is part of the fun. Once you reach the destination, the island is yours to explore: Fort Massachusetts on the north shore, popular beaches on the south side and a boardwalk linking the two sides of the island, with natural beauty throughout.
"The islands actually span from the west Cat Island to the east at Petit Bois and they're all part of Gulf Islands National Seashore," said Gulf Islands Ranger Chris Bramblett.
"Most people come here for the beach. You get those nice crystal clear Gulf of Mexico waters if you visit the south side. A lot of wildlife here and a lot of birders will come out here to do bird watching. There's osprey nests," said Bramblett.
"We have tons of shorebirds on the island. And this is also a migratory stop for a lot of migrating song birds coming back from South America and Central America."
If history is more to your liking, then Fort Massachusetts is the perfect place to explore. It dates back to civil war days and was a critical structure for guarding the entrance to the Mississippi Sound.
"It did protect the Mississippi Sound and the commerce lanes that ran between Mobile and New Orleans. And this was one of the last forts that was built in what was known as the third system of fortifications," Bramblett explained.
Along with its natural beauty and history, arguably the number one reason for visiting Ship Island is this awesome beach with its crystal cool waters. Perfect for a summertime getaway.
"It's fun to find hermit crabs," one young girl said as she played with friends on the beach.
"I enjoy learning about the history of when the war was here. And also having fun with my friends and spending time with my Mom and my brother. And just swimming," said another youngster.
Beaches, natural beauty, and history. Ship Island has it all.
Ship Island Excursions offers daily ferry service to the island during the summer season. They're located at the Gulfport Harbor.