Disclosure: Town & Tourist may receive a commission for purchases made through links in this article, at no additional cost to you.
The state of Mississippi undoubtedly sparkles when it comes to any of its natural reservoirs, swimming holes, and waterfalls. It isn’t news that the Magnolia State has a tiny coastline along the Gulf of Mexico.
Tourists who visit there are often disappointed with the color of the water at the Mississippi Gulf beaches. The water appears brown and murky, which is just sediment (Ship Island, which is listed below, is the exception).
Anyone who loves being on the water tends to opt for the state’s lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams. These areas seem to have it all when it comes to vacationing and camping. The visibility of these natural waters is exceptionally high.
Clear, bright, and refreshing are just a few ways to describe the waters. The U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers takes care of and maintains many of these state parks and natural areas.
Whether it’s a day trip, a few nights in a tent, or a camper, there isn’t a shortage of recreational activities at the water. When boating is what folks are into, or if fishing for bass is their sport, any one of Mississippi’s many bodies of water is a perfect getaway. Others who enjoy hiking to a waterfall, or relaxing on a dock, can also find paradise.
Take a break, unplug from the daily grind, and get ready to venture out. Mississippi will not let down its visitors. Take a read to discover a sense of tranquility along these beautiful bodies of water.
1. Ship Island
Eleven miles off the coast of Mississippi, travelers can find Ship Island, a Gulf barrier island, Ship Island. The Gulf of Mexico waters surrounds Ship Island, luring visitors from Mississippi and neighboring states.
It’s an hour boat ride from the public ferry that runs from Gulfport’s Jones Park to Ship Island daily. Round trip tickets range from $35 to $41 per person, and children 2-years-old and under ride free.
Often the ferry ride is an exciting experience when you spot bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside the boat. The ferry also offers dolphin watching excursions around the Island.
Ship Island is known for having the clearest waters in the whole state. It resides on the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Visitors come to this island for its pristine sandy beaches where they can rest and relax. All you need is a swimsuit, towel, SPF, and snorkeling equipment. You can rent chairs and umbrellas on the Island.
The water around Ship Island is warm and calm. Swimmers and snorkelers can easily spot lionfish, stingrays, crustaceans, and jellyfish. The area is teeming with wildlife, including pelicans hunting the water for food, insects such as butterflies and banana spiders, and sea turtles.
2. Old Bridge Beach
Northeast of Mississippi is Old Bridge Beach, which is located on Bay Springs Lake. Where the the water is clear, and the sand is white, it’s a beautiful spot to hunker down on a summer day.
The Beach gets busy with families but doesn’t feel too crowded. The Lake can get up to the mid-80s in water temperature, which makes swimming there refreshing. Bring a raft along to float on the Lake. Other recreational activities include fishing from the pier and playing volleyball.
The U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers keeps an eye on this Beach by maintaining it regularly. Each car pays a minimal fee to enter.
3. Merit Water Park
Mississippi’s Rial Creek has access to Merit Water Park, one of the state’s natural gems in Mendenhall. You’ll find it by traveling 4 miles south of D’Lo on Highway 43. Merit Water Park has a swimming hole and a waterfall, not your typical “waterpark” with lazy rivers and water slides.
With the clearest spring water in the state, Merit Water Park is a 25-acre park. Don’t be fooled when you look down and see brown – you are actually seeing straight to the bottom of the creek. The water is chilly, which makes it a nice place to cool off from the sweltering heat of a Mississippi summer.
The Park has a creek-side beach where you can sit on the sand or on one of the many rocks to enjoy the peaceful environment. Some visitors relax by setting up their beach chairs in the water. There are picnic tables and an area to grill, so it’s a perfect spot to round out the day with a lunch break.
4. Sardis Lake
Any Mississippi resident will tell you that Sardis Lake has the clearest water. Located in the Northwest part of the state, Sardis Lake is an enormous reservoir covering 98,520 acres.
Once created to control flooding, today, Sardis Lake is one of the most popular recreational locations in the state. Not only is this vicinity beautiful to camp for a night or two, but Sardis Lake is also a water-friendly area for anglers, boats, water skiers, and swimmers.
The water is cool and crisp, especially refreshing on a hot day. Set up towels and umbrellas at any of the several swimming beaches. Bring a raft from home and put your feet up while floating on the water.
Anglers will have the best luck fishing for crappie, bass, catfish, and sunfish. Rent a boat, buy some bait and you are all set. Sardis Lake Marina has multiple slips and boats to rent. The Lake is great for hanging out on a boat, wakeboarding, and cruising on water skies.
Managed by the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sardis Lake is an ecological mecca. Nature lovers may find an array of nesting birds, deer, quail, wild turkey, rabbits, and raccoons.
5. Dunn’s Falls Water Park
Dunn’s Falls Water Park is located along Chunky River, a tributary of Chickasawhay River in Central Mississippi. Crystal clear water and a waterfall to play and swim in is a day of paradise for visitors.
Dunn’s Falls Water Park is a 65-feet man-made waterfall, making it the tallest in Mississippi. Initially built as a power source for a hat factory in the 1850s, the mill visitors see today is different. It is an original from 1857 that has been reconstructed.
Splashing and playing right under the Falls is the must thing to do. It’s a reasonably shallow swimming hole that is suitable for all levels of swimmers. Head off of the Falls area to Chunky River for fishing and canoeing. Paddle boating is fun, too.
Guests can rent these boats at the Park. A hike is a unique way to experience the Falls. From the Park’s base, it will take about an hour to climb up. It’s an out-and-back trail that is easy to access and hike. The reward is that you can cool down in the water when you return to the bottom.
6. Grenada Landing Main Beach
Grenada Lake has crystal clear water and is located in Hugh White State Park of North Mississippi. Sandy swimming beaches, boating, and fishing are popular recreational activities on the Lake. Skuna and Yalobusha Rivers feed Grenada Lake, a reservoir with 35,000 acres of water.
Five beaches with designated buoy lines keep swimmers safe from speed boats and jet skiers. Grenada Landing Main Beach, Cape Retreat, Willow Run, Old Fort, and Oak Grove are five beaches. In the peak summer months, the lake water averages at 82F.
Out of the water, there are ample shady areas to set up beach blankets and picnic essentials. There aren’t lifeguards on these beaches. Find campsites in Hugh White State Park since camping on the Beach is not allowed.
Grenada Lake is accessible to various boats, including speed boats or pontoons. There are 16 boat launch ramps for use. While many visitors tow their own boats, boat rentals are convenient to rent nearby.
There is excellent fishing on Grenada Lake, which also features fishing tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments draw competitors from across the country. Anglers come to fish for bream, catfish, sunfish, and bass.
7. Pickwick Lake
Pickwick Lake in J.P. Coleman State Park has a famous waterfall and swimming hole. This clear freshwater lake is 47,500 acres that extend over multiple states from Alabama to Mississippi to Tennessee.
Pickwick Lake is an incredible place for off-the-clock playtime. Swimming, boating, fishing, and water skiing are a few of the water activities to do.
Don’t miss swimming at Cooper Falls, a 50-foot waterfall. Swimmers can enjoy a cool splash in the cove. The only way to get to the waterfall is by boat. The boats launch from the Pickwick State Park Marin.
The Lake is busy with game fish species, including bass, crappie, catfish, walleye, bream, and sauger. Anglers fish from all sorts of boating vessels, such as canoes, pontoons, kayaks, and leisure boats. Fishing spots to check out include the docks, shallow rocky banks, and brush and creek channels.
8. Clark Creek Falls
Located near the Louisiana-Mississippi state line, Clark Creek Natural Park is a beautiful location to get your nature fill. According to the Clark Creek Natural Park, guests will encounter numerous waterfalls and clear water swimming holes.
Clark Creek Falls flows down into a shallow swimming hole. An ideal stop along one of the nature trails, the swimming pool is just the right size for any kid to wade in. For more swimming access, go to the Clark Creek Campground’s banks of Fall Creek.
At 30 feet high, Clark Creek Falls is picturesque. The scenic area is enveloped by beech and magnolia trees. Be careful of poisonous snakes that may be slithering. Also, black bears retreat in the surrounding forest of Clark Creek Nature Park. This natural habitat preserves this endangered animal species.
Park rangers suggest bringing water and wearing hiking shoes. There is one restroom at the trailhead parking lot. Visiting the Park costs $2 per person. Kids 5 years old and younger can enter for free.
9. Piney Grove Beach
Think about Piney Grove Beach when planning the next in-state vacay. This Beach is a little paradise enclave with clear, refreshing waters. Piney Grove Beach is on the waters of Bay Springs Lake in N.E., Mississippi.
The Lake is a reservoir spanning 7,000 acres alongside the Tennessee-Tombigbee (Alabama) Waterway. While there are many beaches along the Lake, Piney Grove Beach is one of the favorites on the western shores.
Swimming, boating, and fishing are a few recreational pastimes on the Lake. The water is pristine and inviting, especially during the sizzling hot months. Throughout the summer, the average water temperature is 82F.
Similar to other Mississippi lakes, fishing is allowed on Bay Springs Lake. Anglers come specifically to fish largemouth, crappie, and spotted bass. There are two launch ramps for boats at Piney Grove. Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are fun activities off the Beach.
Stay a minute in this natural wonderland and set up camp at the Piney Grove Campground. Sites come with water and electricity. Coffee on the Lake sounds pretty tempting.