Moving at the speed of flip-flops, we walked the third-of-a-mile from the ferry dock to the beach at West Ship Island in about 10 minutes. Before that, we cruised across a dozen calm miles of the Mississippi Sound in about an hour. The drive my wife and I made from our New Orleans home to the ferry’s departure point in Gulfport, Mississippi, earlier that morning took an hour and change.

But when we finally splashed down in the water off this tiny barrier island, with a vista of blue sea and sky ahead and a startlingly clear view of our toes and the swirl of small fish just below, it seemed that we had trekked much farther. In the ledger of exertion to enjoyment that goes into any getaway, we had just tallied a real bargain.