It’s heating up in Mississippi, and that means finding the perfect spot to cool off. This state may be known for its Southern charm and hospitality, but Mississippi also offers great outdoor recreation on land and water. With the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico on the state’s southern border, there’s plenty of water and beaches for boating, fishing, and swimming. So, grab your bathing suit, dust off your beach bag, book your Mississippi vacation rental, and read on for 10 beaches you absolutely have to check out.

1. Front Beach

front beach
Source: Flickr/Whit Andrews

Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, with unrivaled panoramas of the Mississippi Sound, Front Beach has some of the calmest, shallowest sea waters for any beach on Highway 90 coastal route. It’s one of the most popular spots in Mississippi for swimming and sunbathing, but people also come here for its great fishing piers, volleyball nets, and bonfire stations. Get a vacation rental for the entire family, or choose from one of the excellent romantic getaway accommodations.

2. Ross Barnett Reservoir

natchez trace
Source: Flickr/Michael Massa

Ross Barnett Reservoir has 105 miles of shoreline and several man-made beaches that are perfect for cooling off on a hot day. If you want to keep count, there are also 5 campgrounds, 16 parks, 22 boat launches, 3 handicapped-accessible trails, 2 multi-purpose trails and a mountain bike trail. We should also mention the 5 marinas, 4 baseball and soccer complexes, and 2 golf courses. Good luck finding something to do! The options might be overwhelming.

3. Pass Christian Beach

white mississippi sands
Source: Flickr/Justin Meissen

Pass Christian is referred to by locals as “The Pass,” and it’s also known as the “Birthplace of Yachting in the South.” This beach is popular with locals and visitors thanks to its great fishing, family-friendly atmosphere and plenty of opportunities to surf or relax on the beach. Bring a book and claim your spot on the sand! Even Theodore Roosevelt used to come here to write, sail and spend time with friends.

4. Gulfport Beach

gulfport beach
Source: Flickr/Todd Martin

Gulfport is best known as the historic shipping gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, but this beach is also popular during the summer months for sunbathing and swimming. You can find everything here from jet-ski rentals to parasailing, and the beach also hosts regular volleyball competitions throughout the year. Don’t forget to take a stroll along the boardwalk while you’re here. You’ll be able to venture out into the Gulf swells and across the bumpy dunes to the back of the sand.

5. Lake Mars

lake mars

This beach may be a bit off the beaten path, but it’s definitely worth the trek. The original Lake Mars Pier was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, but the brand new replacement is a carbon copy of the old one with added lights and a new boat launch. It’s the perfect place to catch some fish, or maybe even a crab, and have some fun in the sun.

6. East Beach

east beach

East Beach is more of a residential beach, so you’ll find plenty of nearby bed and breakfasts and vacation rental options, making it the perfect vacation destination. A few hundred feet north of the beach, there’s a low-lying northwest-southeast striking, narrow ridge, which parallels the entire shoreline of East Beach and reaches an elevation of about fifteen feet above sea level. This area is pretty spectacular!

7. Biloxi Beach

biloxi beach
Source: Flickr/Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant

The long stretch of pearly white sand that is Biloxi Beach is nestled in the middle of the Mississippi gulf coast in one of the largest cities in the state, also called Biloxi. It’s one of the most quintessential images of the state’s coastline, boasting calm waters and practically surrounded by world-class casinos. The variety of amenities also makes it one of the family friendly favorites in the Deep South. Be sure to stick around to see one of the best seaside sunset views around when orange and pink hues cast a romantic glaze over the beach and its waters. In fact, you’ll probably want to extend your beach trip into an overnight stay.

8. Old Bridge Beach

old bridge beach

Old Bridge Beach is a stunning white sand beach that overlooks Bay Springs Lake and is truly a hidden gem. It’s located in the unincorporated community, New Site, and features crystal clear water and some of the whitest, most pristine sand in the state. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot, summer day and also includes a playground area, fishing pier, picnic tables with grills, and a volleyball court. This beautiful beach is maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers and can currently be accessed for a small fee of $4 which covers one vehicle of up to 8 people.

9. Sardis Lake

sardis lake
Source: Flickr/Justin Ford

Sardis Lake attracts millions of visitors each year and has become known for its beautiful sandy beaches and wonderful fishing opportunities. Come camp in one of the modern campgrounds, picnic, swim, rent a pavilion for a family reunion or find a spot somewhere on the lake’s 98,000 acres to the boat, hunt, fish, go birding, or walk a trail. If you can’t wait to get on the water, Sardis Lake offers two premier lakes for boating enjoyment. You can ski, tube, pontoon, sail, fish or just cruise on the ever popular 425-acre Lower Lake or the renowned 32,000-acre Upper Lake.

10. Waveland Beach

waveland beach

There’s something special at Waveland Beach. Aside from the usual water and sand, you’ll find Buccaneer State Park. This park was restored after Hurricane Katrina and features primitive and developed camping, nature trails, disc golf, a water park, and, of course, beach access. This beach is especially great for families as the water stays shallow, and the kids can watch fish zoom or even jump by. It’s also a great place to bring your dog to play in the sand. Fido is welcome as long as he remains on-leash.