9 Great Outdoor Adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

9 Great Outdoor Adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

9 Great Outdoor Adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Bay Coast became known for its booming casinos and waterfront hotels. However, beyond the glitz of the main beach highway, there are plenty of amazing outdoor adventures waiting for visitors.

From exciting eco-tours along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, swamps and bays, to the thrill of parasailing high above the Gulf of Mexico, adventure awaits. Here are nine of my favorite outdoor adventures you should experience along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Biloxi Lighthouse

Biloxi Lighthouse

Image credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

1. Adventures with a paraglider

Biloxi

While most outdoor adventures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast focus on sailing the water, how about gliding over it? Fly with Parasail Adventures in Biloxi for an exhilarating 90-minute aerial ride over the blue waters of the bay.

Up to three people can parasail at the same time, who are harnessed to a parachute and then lifted high into the air behind the tugboat. It’s an exciting experience to say the least!

Visit the Parasail Adventures website for their current schedule and to purchase tickets.

Professional advice: Of course, parasailing is weather dependent and Parasail Adventures offers more than rescheduling or reimbursement in the event of inclement weather. For safety reasons, the maximum sailing weight for one person is 285 pounds.

2. Biloxi schooners

Biloxi

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Maritime and Seafood Museum is a fascinating journey through over 300 years of maritime history with exhibits on commercial fishing, boating history, and the environment. However, a trip to the museum wouldn’t be complete without a cruise aboard a replica of the two-masted gaff-rigged schooner Biloxi from the turn of the 20th century.

This is one of the most unique ways to experience the bay while sailing the waves under full billowing sails.

There are two “white-winged queens” at the museum – Glenn L. Swetman and Mike Sekul. The schooners are available for weddings and special events, but offer periodic 2.5 hour cruising sails throughout the month (dates and times are posted on their website).

Professional advice: Enjoy delicious seafood and margaritas while taking in the breathtaking views of the bay at Shaggy’s on Biloxi Beach. Try their Bahama Grill – grilled chicken or triggerfish with soy sauce and pineapple pico with coconut rice. It’s a local delicacy.

blueway on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Paddling one of the many blue routes of the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Image Credit: Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area

3. Canoeing Blueways Mississippi Gulf Coast

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is criss-crossed by an intricate maze of waterways consisting of swamps, bays, and rivers. Of course, there is also the Gulf of Mexico itself. These waterways provide a thrilling paddling experience.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area has developed a series of 13 blue roads stretching across the coast that will take kayakers to some of the state’s beautiful coastal backwaters as well as open water paddles.

A map and guide to the entire adventure can be found on the Blueways website.

4. Mississippi Aquarium

Gulfport

Plan to spend the better part of the day exploring the Mississippi Aquarium, where you’ll see over 200 species of wildlife and 300 species of fish. Daily programs on various nature topics are held throughout the day. You’ll also have the chance to pet dolphins and get close to sea creatures in their habitat with SeaTrek, where you’ll put on special gear and go underwater to walk among marine life. No swimming ability required.

Eco-tour to the Mississippi Aquarium

Spend a fascinating 90 minutes with scientists and researchers aboard the Mississippi Aquarium cruise boat for a special eco-tour to experience the wildlife and amazing ecology of the Gulf of Mexico.

The tour departs from the Small Craft Harbor Marina at Jones Park in Gulfport. The departure schedule is weather dependent.

Biloxi Beach on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Biloxi Beach on the Mississippi Gulf Coast

Image credit: George Dodd III / Shutterstock.com

5. Biloxi shrimp expedition

Biloxi

Life as a shrimp is hard, but the rewards are great, and spending a day in the beautiful and protected waters between Deer Island and the Biloxi shoreline is invigorating. Now you can experience this lifestyle for yourself.

The Biloxi Shrimping Company organizes the Daily Living Marine Adventure Cruise, a 70-minute canal trip where they set their nets, shows how these delightful crustaceans get from net to table, and reveals other amazing marine life found in these waters. You can even be escorted out to sea by playful dolphins.

Professional advice: The Living Marine Adventure Cruise operates twice daily from August to September, three times daily from March to August and is closed in winter. Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis (reservations cannot be made), so check their current times online and get to the dock early.

6. Pascagoula Historic Bike Trail

Pascagoula

Take a quiet, leisurely ride alongside the waves of the bay while taking in the rich history of the city of Pascagoula on the Pascagoula Historic Bike Trail.

On this 11.4-mile route through the city, you’ll see the oldest standing building in the state – the LaPointe-Krebs House, which was built in 1750, the home of former President Zachary Taylor, the childhood home of singer Jimmy Buffet, and the 1850 Longfellow House . In total, the route takes you to 15 different sights and this beautiful ride along the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

Download the bike trail map from the Gulf Coast Heritage website.

Fort Massachusetts in the bay on Ship Island

Historic Fort Massachusetts is 12 miles across the Bay on Ship Island and is only accessible by ferry.

Image credit: National Park Service

7. Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island

Persian Gulf Harbour

Speaking of history, you’re in for a real adventure when you board the Ship Island Ferry from Gulfport and embark on a 12-mile journey across the bay to one of Mississippi’s barrier islands to discover Fort Massachusetts.

The construction of the fort began in 1859 and was intended to protect the continent from the invasion of foreign countries. With its massive, thick walls, the fort (being one of the smaller fortifications of its kind flanking the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas) offered the U.S. Army a 360-degree view of the surrounding canal and waters of the Persian Gulf, and was armed to the hilt with cannons.

Today, Fort Massachusetts is part of the Gulf Islands National Coast. The rangers lead visitors on regular free guided tours of the fort. Visit the Gulf Islands website for a schedule of programs.

The Island of Ships

It is an hour’s ferry ride to the island. The Ship Island Ferry normally departs Gulfport twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. So plan on spending a full day exploring the 7-mile island after visiting the fort. You can swim and sunbathe on the white beaches of the Arabian Gulf and hike all over the island. There is a snack bar on South Beach, but be prepared to bring a fridge (42 liters or less) with drinks, a packed lounger/beach tent and lunch. Don’t forget about sunscreen. They’re not kidding when they say Ship Island sunburns are legendary! It is a treeless island.

Buccaneer State Park

Buccanneer State Park, one of 40 sites along the Mississippi Coastal Bird Trail

Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

8. Great opportunities for bird watching

Sponsored by the Mississippi Audubon Society, the Mississippi Coastal Birding Trail consists of forty sites along the state’s six southernmost counties that have been identified as historically prime birding areas.

The organization’s website has an interactive map of places to help you find them, as well as a handy guide to the most sought after species so you can identify them and tick them off the list. There are many – the beautiful tricolor heron, purple shades of galinule and bald eagles are just a few of them.

start of the Escatawpa Trail

The beginning of the Escatawpa Trail is in the westbound Mississippi I-10 welcome area.

Photo credit: Joe Cuhaj

9. Hike along the Mississippi Bay coast

You wouldn’t think there would be many hiking options along the Mississippi Bay coast, but that’s not the case. While not too difficult in terms of distance or difficulty, these short and easy walking paths allow you to experience the wealth of natural wonders and wildlife that the Gulf Coast has to offer.

One of the most unique is the Escatawpa Trail, a 1.4-mile dirt path and boardwalk that leads to beautiful views of the river of the same name. What makes it unique is that the start of the trail is at the Mississippi Welcome Center on I-10 westbound, just over the Alabama state line. Talk about stretching your legs on a long ride.

Other notable hikes include Pirate’s Alley Loop at Buccaneer State Park, a 1-mile loop through Spanish oaks and moss-covered swamps; The 3-mile Possum Walk Trail at the INFINITY Science Center (Stennis Space Center) in Pearlington, where you’ll learn about the historic significance of the former African American community and lumber mills; and the trails of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, where three short one-tenth-mile to one-mile trails take you through breathtaking ranges of longleaf pine, wildflowers, carnivorous plants, alligators, and an amazing array of birds.

Professional advice: If you’re visiting Buccaneer State Park on a steamy summer day, take a cool dip in the pool, go down one of the park’s slides, or catch a wave in the wave pool.

For more information on traveling to Mississippi, check out these articles:

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