About the Region
How did Coastal Mississipip come to be? Here’s a little taste of our past and some suggestions for experiencing our history today.
Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, was commissioned by King Louis XIV to plant a colony somewhere near the mouth of the Mississippi. In October 1698, he set sail from France with about 200 colonists aboard. Six months later, he arrived at Biloxi Bay and landed on its East Side. It was then on April 8, 1699, d’Iberville selected the site of present-day Ocean Springs to build Fort Maurepas for the first settlement by the French for Colonial Louisiana.
Coastal Mississippi, first home to the Biloxi Indians and later to d’Iberville’s French, changed hands countless times over the centuries. With each new flag, a new culture was infused. Not unlike a good gumbo.
Coastal Mississippi is a tri-county (Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson) region of approximately 373,000 residents (2015 census estimate). There are 12 cities and many outlying communities that make up the coast as a whole.
BAY ST LOUIS - population 12,667
Considered “a place apart”, this quaint harbor town has been named one of the ‘Coolest Small Towns in America’ by Budget Travel (2013) and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine (2010). Old Town Bay St Louis abounds with art, shopping and dining. From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
BILOXI - population 45,975
Biloxi is a playground on a peninsula where exciting and affordable adventure awaits everyone. Find the excitement of gaming and headliner entertainment at eight casino resorts. Enjoy fun on the water jet-skiing, kayaking, fishing or dipping your toes in the sand. Sail on an authentic Biloxi schooner, take an eco-trip aboard the Biloxi Shrimping Tour, or a sunset/dinner cruise on a paddlewheeler, the Betsy Ann. Watch the Biloxi Shuckers, a minor league baseball team, play at MGM Park. Learn the history and heritage at historic sites and museums such as Beauvoir, Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art and the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum.
D’IBERVILLE - population 11,503
D’Iberville sits on the Bay of Biloxi and is home to the Scarlet Pearl Casino, Hint Hunters Puzzle Rooms, shopping and dining at the Promenade.
DIAMONDHEAD - population 8,217
Diamondhead is a residential community of single family homes and condominiums. The Diamondhead Country Club offers two 18-hole golf courses, tennis, and dining.
GAUTIER - population 18,471
Gautier is home to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge and Eco-Tours of South Mississippi. Explore the pine savannahs or backwaters of the Pascagoula River. A love for nature runs through the veins of this city, epitomized by the “Nature’s Playground” sculpture located in its Town Center.
GULFPORT - population 72,076
Gulfport offers beautiful beaches, dining options, casino gaming, live entertainment, and outlet shopping. Fishbone Alley, located in an Historic Downtown, has become an "urban art zone" showcasing local artists of all ages and has been featured in national publications and movies. Gulf Islands Water Park includes a zip line course and is located adjacent to the Gulfport Sportsplex. Enjoy fun in the sun during a day of charter fishing, sailing, or a ferry ride to Ship Island, with quartz sand beaches, boardwalks and historic Fort Massachusetts. Gulfport is home to the State’s first children’s museum, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. The Port of Gulfport, the third largest container port on the Gulf of Mexico (in Gulfport), among the top 2O US container ports and the second largest importer of green fruit in the nation.
LONG BEACH - population 15,677
Long Beach, also known as the Friendly City, is cozy, quiet and coastal. Find dining, gift shops, boutiques, tasty bakeries and treat stops and antiques. Bike the streets, run along the seawall and fish the piers.
MOSS POINT - population 13,570
Located at the junction of two rivers (Pascagoula and Escatawpa) Moss Point is known as the River City. Explore the Pascagoula River by taking an airboat tour (gators included) or tour the Pascagoula River Audubon Center where you can go on an eco-tour, birdwatch, or hike.
OCEAN SPRINGS – population 17,652
Known as the City of Discovery, this historic coastal town is a quaint Main Street community nestled on the scenic shore of the Mississippi Sound. Experience Ocean Springs’ rich history, artistic flair, and small-town appeal with over 200 independent shops, galleries, and restaurants. Ocean Springs is known for its walkability. Colorful and sophisticated, this community is home to the Ocean Springs Art Association representing more than 300 local artists; the largest fine arts festival in the state (Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival); the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and Shearwater Pottery.
PASCAGOULA - population 21,981
Rated as one of Outdoor Life’s top 200 best towns in America, this city boasts incredible antebellum architecture and a rich 300-year history. Visit the La Pointe-Krebs Museum to learn the history of Pascagoula and enjoy a panoramic view of Krebs Lake. The La Pointe-Krebs House (currently under renovation) is the oldest structure in Mississippi and the oldest confirmed building in the entire Mississippi Valley, circa 1767.
PASS CHRISTIAN - population 5,701
View historic homes and magnificent oaks during your time in “The Pass.” The area’s unique way of life is defined as relaxed and resolute, casual and carefree. Stay at a boutique hotel, pick up a one-of-a-kind antique or gift from a range of local retailers, grab a fresh brewed coffee at Cat Island Coffeehouse, or enjoy local cuisine.
WAVELAND - population 6,428
Waveland is a small coastal town that takes pride in its people and traditions. Known as “The Hospitality City”, it’s the only Gulf Coast community which prohibits commercial buildings on the beachfront. Instead, you’ll find the Veteran’s Memorial Monument and the adjacent Garfield Pier, for fishing, walking and enjoying a picnic. Buccaneer State Park, located in Waveland, encompasses 343 acres of beachfront property formerly owned by Andrew Jackson. The Park features a 4.5-acre waterpark, an 18-hole disc golf course and a 1.8-mile nature trail.