10 hidden gems worth a trip


Deer Island
Near Biloxi, Mississippi

Some of the very best beaches are hidden in plain sight. The northwest tip of Deer Island, once part of the Mississippi mainland, is only about 200 yards off the coast of Biloxi, but it might as well be another world. Completely undeveloped and uninhabited, there’s nothing on this narrow, 400-acre island but lush foliage, indigenous wildlife (rabbits, otters), a sturdy pier, and a long stretch of beautiful beach. Camping enthusiasts sometimes pull overnighters here, but it’s mostly a day-trip destination (paddlers love that they can arrive in ten minutes by canoe, kayak, or paddleboard). Though many have sought to develop the island, the state recently purchased it, and there’s been talk of turning it into a park. But for now, Deer Island is as primitive a hideaway as you’re likely to find this close to civilization. Indulge your Robinson Crusoe fantasy, and be back in Biloxi by happy hour.

Legend has it
A couple of creepy ghost stories have long been associated with the island—one featuring a headless skeleton, the other an eerie blue light known as the Firewater Ghost. Overnighters, beware!

Don’t forget to bring
A shovel. It’s believed that American Indians used Deer Island as a hunting ground as early as 8000 BCE. Today, visitors enjoy searching for—and finding—ancient arrowheads in the sand.

Where to eat
Back on the mainland, enjoy dinner at Taranto’s Crawfish, a no-frills Biloxi joint specializing in Cajun- and Creole-style seafood. 228-392-0990


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