Ship Island is the collective name for two barrier islands off the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore: East Ship Island and West Ship Island. Hurricane Camille split the once single island into 2 separate islands in 1969. West Ship Island is the site of Fort Massachusetts (built 1859–66), as a third system fortification.
West Ship Island is accessible through private or chartered boat. It is also accessible by a privately owned ferry boat company, Ship Island Excursions, running from Gulfport, Mississippi 12 miles out to the island for a fee. Ship Island Excursions has been running boats to the island since before the National Park Service acquired the island. Today, they are an official Park Service Concession.
When I go to Ship Island, I tend to spend most of my time walking and exploring instead of sitting around the main area of the beach where everyone is relaxing under umbrellas.
I took most of these photos while exploring the west end of the island.
This boat was passing by as I sat alone looking out over the ocean. They gave me several blast of the horn as they went by and I waved my hand response. I assumed this was the proper boat to person on land greeting.
I wasn't exactly correct when I said I was alone at the end of the island, I had the company of A LOT of sea birds.
There are shelling regulations on the island. You are allowed to pick up shells if there is nothing living inside but most of the pretty shells, like the one pictured above, will be in the water and be inhabited by some small creature. It didn't take long for this little fellow to scurry back into the water.
You are also warned on the ferry ride over to not feed the birds but I saw many visitors ignoring this rule.
For $25 you can rent an umbrella and two chairs. I'm sure you can bring you own but it's worth the money for me not to have to lug it along. It is a very long walk from the ferry dock to the other side of the island where everything is located.
Fort Massachusetts is located near the docks were the ferry arrives and departs. Rangers or interpreters give tours various times during the day and it's a great way to get out of the sun for awhile.
I love the layers of black and white sand along the beach.