Louisiana friends, if your family wants to try camping near the beach without having to take a long drive to Alabama or Florida, there is an option in Mississippi for you. Located in Hancock County on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Buccaneer State Park is a coastal campground that has something for everyone.
Completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Buccaneer State Park was rebuilt and overhauled to include a water park, campground, playground, nature trails, disc golf, and waterfront camping to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone. An hour from New Orleans and its surrounding areas, Buccaneer State Park is easily accessible via I-10 or Highway 90. Traveling to the park does require driving over railroad tracks; the tracks on the exit prior to the park are not good for a truck with a trailer or a motor home. We highly encourage taking Lakeshore Drive to S. Beach Blvd. to prevent any damage. The park is easy to find and has adequate signage to guide to the camping area; once you pass Buccaneer Bay Water Park and the playground, you will come up on the campground office, which is also gated.
If you are visiting Buccaneer and would like to explore the nearby coastal areas, there is a nice shopping and dining area right down Beach Blvd. in Bay St. Louis as well as a pier and a paved bike trail along the Gulf of Mexico. If the weather is nice, this is a great option for exploring the area and/or spending the day at the beach.
There is an attendant at the main gate and the campground is immediately to your right. The attendants are pleasant, but on all of our visits, we did not see any other park personnel. Almost all of the roads and campsites are concrete and level and all RV campsites include full hookups. In some of the loops, the arrangement of the sites can make backing in a little tricky. Campsites are in loops, which are cleverly named with pirate references. If you are looking for a shaded campsite, the Treasure Cove area is the most shaded, however it is closest to the railroad tracks, so you may have a lot of noise when trains come through. We have found that the Barataria Bay & Jean Lafitte areas get the least amount of noise from trains. The Blackbeard loop is the only one in the campground without paved sites or picnic tables and it is also near the train tracks. This loop is also somewhat shaded, however the sites are very close together and there is not much room to the campsites. If you have more than one vehicle, you will have to park at the entrance of the loop, near the pool. If you are looking for a beach view, there are a handful of campsites that are not paved but face the Gulf of Mexico and have basic hookups, but no sewer, and are considered “walk up” and do not take reservations. All sites with the exception of those in the Blackbeard loop also include a picnic table and charcoal grill. Campsites are reasonably priced, with variations due to seasonal rates. Average rates are around $25/night in the fall, maxing out with $28/night in the summer for a site with full hookups.
Amenities at Buccaneer include disc golf, beach access, a water park with a wave pool and slides, a wading pool that is part of the campground, a game room, bath houses, and nature trails. The campground wading pool is large, clean, and well equipped with umbrellas, pool chairs, and a lifeguard and is about 3′ deep for those wishing to use it. However, there is an additional fee of $6 per person, per day, to use the campground pool. The game room is right next to the pool area, as well as a camp store. There are lots of paved roads for bike riding and generally the traffic is not heavy throughout the campground, so children can ride safely. Nature trails are pleasant and well maintained. The playground is not in the campground, it is near the entrance in the day use area. It is well equipped and maintained with equipment for all ages, including swings and a merry-go-round. Our son is a big fan of the playground and it provides hours of entertainment for the kids. Depending on when you visit Buccaneer, be forewarned that because it is located near the marsh, you may encounter lots of mosquitoes and/or biting gnats. We have been fortunate the last few times we have gone that there were not many, but we have also been when the gnats bit so much we couldn’t spend much time outside. Be sure to bring lots of bug spray and or repellent lamps to deter them.
Entrance into Buccaneer Bay Water Park is NOT included in your campground stay. In order to use the water park, it is $13 per person under 48″ tall and $19 per person over 48″ per day. This rate also includes access to the campground pool should you wish to use it on the same day. There is also a “twilight” rate from 4-6 PM that makes entry $13 & $11. The water park closes at 6 PM. Wristbands are provided so that you can come and go from the water park to your campsite, which is good, as no outside food or drink is permitted. The water park includes a wave pool, small children’s pool, and 2 two water slides. Children must be 48″ to ride the slides. While we did really enjoy ourselves at Buccaneer Bay, we did not feel like the water park is a good value when camping at Buccaneer State Park… simply stated, the expense of the water park entry fees for a family of four along with the campground fees could total up to $208.00 for the weekend… which is incredibly costly, most especially since the water park does not have many activities – just the wave pool, 2 water slides, and a small baby pool. While this was adequate entertainment for us on our camping trip, we did not feel like the water park was a good value for what was provided. Specifically, had our child not been tall enough to ride the slides, the rate would have been $13 for him to play in a baby pool and in the wave pool, which would be very disappointing. When compared to other water parks, the cost per ride at Buccaneer is approximately $6.33/per ride, per person. Right down the road, at Gulf Islands Water Park, there are 11 rides available for guests; all slides are good for kids 42″ tall and up, and the rate is $3.181/per pride, per person. (Rate during prime season is $34.99 and includes 8 more rides/attractions). We did enjoy our visit to Buccaneer Bay Water Park and we felt that the pools and slides were well maintained, cleaned, and well staffed with lifeguards, however, we couldn’t help but feel like the water park was missing something or just a little bit “meh” with regards to what it had to offer for the price charged.
There are bath houses at every loop, except the Blackbeard loop. All of the bath houses we encountered were adequate but not preferred. While they are newer, they are not well ventilated and get very hot/steamy and/or really cold depending on the weather. There was no hand soap or paper towels available either, which we found sort of pointless. Also, on our last visit, it looked as though the shower had not been cleaned in a while, there were hairballs all over and mold growing on the tile. There is also nowhere to hang a towel. But, if in a pinch and you need them, they are okay enough to use.
If you are looking to camp somewhere this summer near the Mississippi Gulf Coast or New Orleans, but with the option for water or beach fun along with the traditional part of camping, head on over to Buccaneer State Park- there is literally something for everyone!
AMENITIES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
BATH HOUSES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
KID FRIENDLY: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
CAMPSITES: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
PARK STAFF: ⭐ ⭐
OVERALL RATING: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐