The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a kayaking diamond in the rough. It is largely ignored by everyone but fisherman and shrimpers. There four great islands 1-10 miles offshore that are easy to paddle to. Starting from the west are Cat Island, East and West Ship Islands, and Deer Island. Deer Island is the closest, it is easy to get to and offers view of the Coast and all of the new casinos. The two Ship Islands are roughly 10 miles out and are State Parks. West Ship has a Civil War fort and a lighthouse for the tourists. Cat Island is privately owned, but the owners allow visitation as long as it is kept clean. The best place to kayak is the Bay of St. Louis. This bay is very picturesque and tranquil. Due to it being shallow in places, you don't get a lot of boat traffic or jetski's crowding you out. I have been out there all day and never seen another boat. You can kayak right up to the beach at downtown Bay St. Louis and eat a great lunch and kayak back to where you launched from. All of the small towns along the Gulf Coast have yacht clubs and will allow you to park and launch your kayak with no problems. You might spend some of your time dealing with curious onlookers, though. Have fun, be safe and bring the sunscreen and some bugspray.
Due to the large influx of casinos along the beach, hotel space is plentiful. There are many smaller motels along the beach as well if you are on a budget. Mississippi offers some of the best seafood anywhere. Skip the boring chain restaurants and go eat all you can eat catfish, shrimp or chicken at Aunt Jenny's Seafood in Ocean Springs or Pirate's Cove on the beach at Long Beach for the best hot roast beef PoBoy in the world.
Everyplace I have launched from has been free of charge. You might have to ask permission at one of the private yacht clubs, but that is just good manners. There are no permits required to kayak anywhere along the Coast
Located on the coast of Mississippi, Hwy 90 offers the best access to the beaches and the bays. This hwy runs down the length of this 26-mile beach and has numerous parking bays.
The Coast Guard is very strict along the Coast. They patrol year round are very vigilant about enforcing regulations. Don't consider kayaking in these waters without the proper safety equipment, they will fine you. Of course, they only do this to ensure your safety.
Most general maps of Mississippi show the off shore islands, but a good nautical map will give you bearings, water depths, and accurate distances.
- Trip Duration: Day Trip, 2-3 Day Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: Open Water/Ocean