Good Grit's Guide to the South's Best Islands and Beaches: Coastal Mississippi

Good Grit's Guide to the South's Best Islands and Beaches: Coastal Mississippi

When our Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Brown, bought a home on St. George Island, we could not wait to explore. The quiet beach felt almost untouched—like a well-kept secret, welcoming us without the hustle and bustle we typically expect of beach towns. It led us to wonder… what other gems are hiding along the southern coast? Go ahead and pack your bags—you’ll want to enjoy island hopping and beach bumming all summer long!

Coastal Mississippi, The Secret Coast

When you think about the beach, Mississippi isn’t typically a state that comes to mind—but it should be. Mississippi’s coast has remained relatively undiscovered compared to its Southeastern counterparts, which makes the region all the more desirable for a relaxing vacation. It has the scenic shorelines and temperate climate you want, but without all the crowds. That’s why they call it The Secret Coast.

Mississippi is dotted with unique coastal communities all along its 62 miles of shoreline. Six barrier islands sit in the tranquil waters, just off the coast. Known as the Hospitality State, the warm and welcoming atmosphere is palpable everywhere you go. On The Secret Coast, you don’t feel like a tourist—you feel right at home. 

You may think you already know the Gulf Coast, but the deep south gem that is poised and ready to surprise and delight. It features the longest man-made beach in the nation—26 miles from Biloxi to Henderson Point, right along Highway 90. The temperate climate makes it perfect as a year-round destination, and its natural beauty means the scenery will never disappoint. There are countless things to do across the entire coastline, from boating and hiking to touring museums and attending festivals—and of course, the fresh seafood is a draw all on its own. 

The Mississippi Gulf Coast was once known as the seafood capital of the world. In fact, 69% of the nation’s domestic shrimp comes from the Gulf Coast region. Because of this, the history and heritage of the area revolves around its rich maritime and seafood industry. The Secret Coast is home to a diverse array of cultures and communities, brought together by the maritime industry. From French and Spanish settlers to Cajun influences from their Louisiana neighbors to a large Vietnamese and Croatian population, each culture shaped the Mississippi Coast that we know today. It’s a unique region unlike any other, and the only way to understand how special it is, is to experience it for yourself. 


The Roost ($$) - Ocean Springs: Spend the night in a beautifully restored historic building that’s walking distance from both serene sunsets on the beach and an eclectic downtown atmosphere.

Pearl Hotel ($$) - Bay St. Louis: Located on the corner of historic Main Street and breathtaking Beach Boulevard in the quaint downtown of Bay Saint Louis, history meets beauty at the front door of the Pearl lobby.

Centennial Plaza - Gulfport: ($) Nestled directly across from the white, sandy beaches of Gulfport, sits Centennial Plaza; a 48-acre resort complex that has been completely reimagined as the area’s premier family and business traveler destination.

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel - Biloxi: ($) This beachfront hotel in Biloxi is located just steps away from downtown Biloxi, world-class casinos, The Loop boardwalk, and is a 10-minute walk to the 19th century Biloxi Lighthouse.


Vestige ($$) - Ocean Springs: Offering seasonal, mouthwatering, and ever-evolving tasting menus, Vestige is locally owned by James Beard semi-finalist Chef Alex Perry and his wife, Kumi Omori.

White Pillars ($$) - Biloxi: James Beard semi-finalist Chef Austin Sumrall is passionate about hyperlocal produce and ingredient-driven cuisine, which takes “farm to table” a step further by starting a dish concept around one incredible, seasonal ingredient that may only be available for a short amount of time.

Sea Level - Pass Christian: ($) Enjoy fresh, made to order burgers, fish and shrimp tacos, hand cut fries, freshly squeezed lemonade, and craft beers, not to mention their more than 45 flavors of snoballs. at a waterside table at this little shack on the beach.

Bozo’s Grocery - Pascagoula: ($) This seafood market has been serving Gulf-fresh seafood and some of the most delicious po’boys on The Secret Coast for over 60 years!


Biloxi Shrimping Trip - Biloxi: ($$) Climb aboard the Sailfish and take a 70-minute peek into how the journey begins for a shrimp and how it ends up on your plate.

Betsy Ann Riverboat - Biloxi: ($$) Enjoy eco-tours, sunset cruises, and even a hibachi sunset dinner cruise with live music aboard the Betsy Ann.

Downtown Ocean Springs: ($) With over 200 independent shops, galleries, restaurants and nightlife, this community captures southern, small-town charm with its walkability, white sand beaches, and year-round activity.

Twisted Tiki Tours – Bay St. Louis: ($) Outfitted with cushioned seats, a premier sound system, dance floor and tiki bar, this 50-foot pontoon boat offers passengers a truly unique way to explore the coast and take in the stunning views from the water.


Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum - Biloxi: Established in 1986 to preserve and interpret the maritime history and heritage of Coastal Mississippi, this museum offers an array of exhibits, artifacts, and an extraordinary collection of photographs which tell the story from the time of the first Indian settlement through generations of immigrants whose journey contributed to the melting-pot culture of the Gulf Coast.

Public Art – Coastwide: From large-scale murals in the middle of picturesque downtowns to beachfront sculptures, installations and tree carvings, Coastal Mississippi is brimming with art around every corner.

Mississippi Aquarium - Gulfport: Opened in August 2020, Mississippi Aquarium tells the incredible story of Mississippi's aquatic resources from the Delta to the coastline and the remarkable connection that ties all of the state's natural resources together.

Pascagoula River Audubon Center - Moss Point: The Center serves as a gateway to the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states where visitors can experience and learn about native flora and fauna throughout the year, and kayak through the beautiful marshlands and bayous.

Insider Tips:

Take advantage of the mobile-exclusive Coastal Mississippi Attractions Pass! Featuring ten exciting attractions, the Pass will serve as your passport to the region’s local, coastal favorites at a discounted price. 

While all 6 of Mississippi’s barrier islands offer something unique that is worth exploring, Ship Island is the most accessible to travelers thanks to the Ship Island Excursions ferry service out of Gulfport. Ship Island’s beaches are not the packed beaches you find in other states along the Gulf. With just a short walk down the beach, it’s easy to feel as though you’re on your own little private island. Snorkel, swim, boogie board, search for shells, or just relax and take in all the local wildlife (rays, horseshoe crabs, turtles and dolphins) on the island. With no high-rise condos or traffic, this unspoiled island provides you with a unique beach experience like no other.

Download your Good Grit Coastal Mississippi Itinerary now!